Marketing is hugely important to the success of any small business.

Think about it: You could have the best product or service in the world — but if no one ever hears about it, how do you make sales?

You don’t.

Here are a few of the most common small business marketing mistakes you should understand (and then avoid at all costs).

Not Having a Marketing Plan

Some small business owners approach marketing with an attitude of, “We’ll use it when we need it.” This usually results in poorly thought-out, fast-deploy tactics that just aren’t all that effective.

Having a mapped out plan allows you to act strategically toward specific, on-going goals. It also helps you maintain your sanity — and forces you to think about the future of your business.

Using a planning tool like CoSchedule or Google Calendar, you can map out a marketing plan that helps you accomplish goals on schedule. Taking this small step toward a concrete marketing plan will give you the time you need you to mull over specific tactics, conduct research ahead of time, and deploy only the best ideas that you’re certain will work with your audience.

Not Understanding Your Ideal Customer

While it would be wonderful if every type of person wanted to buy your product — it’s just not a reality. You have an ideal customer who is most likely to buy from you based on qualifiers that align them with what you have to offer.

Take the time to create buyer personas that define your target market so you can create messages and marketing campaigns that speak directly to those people (the ones who are most likely to buy.)

Rather than wasting time trying to speak to everyone, you’ll hit the mark for those who are already highly likely to make a purchase from you.

Not Studying Metrics

Some small business owners make the mistake of launching a bunch of different marketing campaigns — but then fail to look at the metrics to see what’s working and what’s not.

Numbers don’t lie, so you have to take the time to check them out and see what they say.

Set goals for your different marketing channels (like PPC, social media, email) and constantly study the results to see where you should invest your money moving forward. Drop the losers, and spend more on the winners.

Sticking to One Medium

Just like you should diversify your retirement planning, you should diversify your marketing. It’s never a good idea to put all of your faith in one medium.

Sure, some business owners love advertising on the radio. Some are believers in newspaper ads. But if a business only sticks to these platforms and never even tests new marketing activities — how will it know what it's missing?

Testing different marketing mediums helps you better understand your customers.

Who knows? You might find that Facebook ads drive up sales by 20%, or that your audience values their email inboxes more than PPC ads.

The bottom line: You have to try different marketing mediums to figure out which ones resonate with your unique demographic.

Not Researching Competitor Marketing Tactics

Your competitors know your target audience, so it makes sense to see what marketing tactics they’re using, too.

Just by studying what your competitors are doing, you might discover a strategy that you’re not currently utilizing. You know that they’re likely conducting research of their own, so why not look into what they’re up to?

Now, does this mean you should steal your competitors’ tactics? No. But it does mean taking note of new marketing activities you could attempt with your own interesting spin.

Small Business Marketing Mistakes: Avoid These Errors

Your marketing strategy should constantly evolve — but it should always leave out these major mistakes. Take a moment today to look at your own marketing objectives for 2016 and be sure you’re not making any of the small business marketing mistakes outlined here.

If you are, don't sweat it! Make adjustments, try some new things, and get more strategic about your marketing moving forward.