The average business owner does something like this:

  1. Starts a business.

  2. Waits for customers.

  3. Realizes they need to market their business to get customers.

  4. Markets their business.

  5. Still has no results.

  6. Confused and frustrated, they contemplate throwing in the towel.

But we don’t want you to give up, which is why we put together this list of ways you’re probably wasting your time and how to get better at marketing:

Ineffective PR Strategies

PR is considered a “must do” by most businesses, but because of ineffective strategies, business owners can spend a lot of time without any results.

How do you know if you’re using ineffective PR strategies?

You’re Not Thinking About The Pitch

Danny Groner, a freelance journalist, says that the single biggest mistake people make is not thinking about the pitch and whether it makes sense for:

You want to get press for your business, but the instinct to send your press release to anyone who might be interested is a bad one. When you include people who aren’t the right fit for your story, you lose credibility with them and show that you’re inexperienced.

Danny’s tip? “Be sure that the people you target are suitable for the pitch. If they're not, hold onto them for another opportunity down the line.”

You're All About Yourself

Jeff Kear, owner at Planning Pod (and Grasshopper customer!), found his company actually got more results by talking about themselves less. Early in their PR efforts, they sent out a lot of press releases, but didn’t get much traction at all. He says, “Our mistake was twofold: first, what we were providing wasn't really news, and second, what we were providing didn't serve the needs of the reporters and their audience.”

They tried a new strategy: They asked reporters and writers what they deemed newsworthy material. What they heard back was that the writers were primarily interested in three different types of stories:

  1. Information on industry trends

  2. Revealing data or statistics

  3. Truly innovative new products and ideas that are gaining momentum

Jeff’s company changed its PR strategy, conducting its own research and providing their media contacts with their insights. That change took them from one mention every other month in the press to 5-7 mentions per month. Not too shabby!

Spammy Link-Building

In the early days of search engine optimization, it was fairly common advice to focus on link-building (essentially, getting as many sites to link to your site as possible). And getting a link back to your site is a good thing, but many people took the easy way out and simply paid webmasters to put links on their sites. However, the Penguin update of Google’s algorithm got a lot smarter about penalizing websites that participated in tactics like buying backlinks.

Brian Thackston, director of content at WebMechanix, had such an incident with a client. Unknown to the client or WebMechanix, the client's previous marketing firm had purchased backlinks to their site (a big no-no).

This approach initially worked, helping the client rank well in search engines for some very competitive keywords. But when Google updated its algorithm, the client’s monthly traffic plummeted, and their most important lead-generating page lost a whopping 551.35% of its traffic. Yikes.

Sponsored Social Without Targeting

You can get real results running ads on Facebook or Twitter, but only if you do it carefully.

Too many companies throw $50 or $100 at sponsoring a post and then wonder why they aren’t seeing any engagement.

“[pullquote]The most common mistake for an SMB to make when utilizing sponsored social media posts is to not utilize proper targeting[/pullquote],' says Josh Otten, Co-founder and CEO of Screenpush International. By taking a client’s Twitter post and using specific targeting, Screenpush was able to double the click-through rate of a campaign.

The other half of this is having specific goals for your sponsored posts, whether that’s an increase in likes/followers, more email subscribers, or more inquiries about your products or services, or more purchases. If you don’t have goals, then you’re essentially throwing money away when you sponsor social.

Don’t Forget To Measure Your Results

Especially when you’re using online tools, it’s crucial to measure your marketing campaigns and the results that come from them. These posts from the archives can help:

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