Marketing Planning: four mistakes small business owners make

Louise Clarke
Louise Clarke

Digital Content Manager

Posted on: 28th Jan. 2022

A marketing plan is one of the most important business tools a business can have to support its growth. And yet, most small businesses don’t have a marketing plan, and when they do, they can be de-railed by these four most common mistakes.

1. Not having a plan

The first mistake is not having a marketing plan at all

As Steve Maraboli says “If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?”

Understanding and analysing your market, your customer’s needs and wants and where they “hang out”, knowing who your competitors are, and what they are doing is invaluable information. This will be the link between the strategic direction of the business and the delivery of results.

Many businesses are revisiting their marketing plans, ‘pivoting’ their products or services, and in turn strategic plans should be updated to re-align with a new direction. Customer behaviours have also changed significantly since 2020, new markets have opened up, some have changed significantly, and some have disappeared.

Being super clear on what you want to achieve helps keep a business focussed. We normally recommend 4 or 5 marketing goals.

Make sure your goals are clear then plan how you are going to get there. Which brings us to…


2. Thinking about the solution before understanding the problem

It’s natural instinct is to get stuff done, it makes us think that we are taking action to achieve our goals. So it’s normal to dive straight in; creating posts for social, designing a brochure or planning an event. That’s often the fun bit too. Feeding information to our customers is all part of a plan but it can be costly to think about tactics without considering the bigger picture and the problem (or opportunity) that needs solving first.

Whilst considering the shift in customer behaviours, tactics that have worked in the past may not be right for right now. Take your time to get to know your customer as they are today, what challenges and opportunities they face and how you can help them. Knowing your channels will help be seen in the right places at the right time with the right message.

Never underestimate the power of market research. It’s an investment in the future of your business and will provide you with a clear idea of who you are selling to and what they need. Don’t be fooled into thinking that research carried out several years ago is still relevant. It’s worth a refresh particularly in the current climate.


"Don’t be fooled into thinking that research carried out several years ago is still relevant. It’s worth a refresh particularly in the current climate."


3. Over complicating things

It’s good to get back to basics, and be SMART about it. By following some simple steps it will help you understand and keep on track with your marketing objectives and goals.

  • Specific. Be clear about what you’re going to do. Set a small number of actions.
  • Measurable: Ensure you have a way to evaluate your results; what’s working and what isn’t
  • Achievable: Your plan should be realistic and achievable. Don’t set yourself targets you can’t possible meet
  • Relevant: Ask yourself… Does your plan make sense in the current climate and will it really improve things?
  • Timely: Always set yourself deadlines and stick to them

4. Less is more

Finally less is more, it really is. When planning, focus on a handful of marketing actions that you can put your resources (people, time, effort, money) into. Spread yourself too thin and you risk inertia. We have seen it happen a lot, clients come to us looking for solutions following a burn out from an overdose of great ideas and goals which weren’t executed, and so nothing happens. It’s the implementation and consistent action that will ensure a successful marketing plan.



Avoiding these common mistakes in your marketing planning will give you the opportunity to succeed. If you’re short on time or resources, why not book a free virtual marketing drop in session with one of our marketing specialists. You can also call us on 01253 446933 or email Happy planning!

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Louise Clarke is a Happy Content Manager, designer and illustrator. She is an author of kid’s books, and joined Happy in 2016.



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