Marketing Channels, Marketing Planning & Reporting

10 Common Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Marketing


A large part of marketing your small business is trial and error. And as the process goes, mistakes are often unavoidable. The important thing is to spot and get rid of them as soon as possible to not sabotage your marketing any further.

Over the years, it has become clear that some marketing mistakes happen more often than others, particularly among small business owners. So have a look at these 10 common marketing mistakes that can sabotage your marketing and learn how to avoid them!

Learn from your mistakes

When it comes to making mistakes, I have a couple of quotes that help me out when I’ve clearly put my foot in it:

“Never say, ‘Oops.’ Always say, ‘Ah, interesting.’” (Unknown)

“Making mistakes simply means you are learning faster.” (W. H. Agor)

The first quote reminds me that we need to laugh about ourselves more. And the second makes another important point: You can make mistakes, but be sure not to make them twice.

Don’t sabotage your marketing

Let’s make sure you learn from these common mistakes that can sabotage your marketing.

1. Auto-post

Photo by ArtemSam from Getty Images via Canva Pro

Everybody has their preferred social media channel: Some people like Facebook and others spend more time on Twitter. But no matter if you’re a LinkedIn aficionado or an Instagram worshipper – never link your profiles and enable auto-posting!

That means that you automatically post all of your customised content from one platform to another. This means your followers see, for example, a tweet that links to a Facebook or Instagram post. Worse, it’ll be in the wrong format, possibly truncated or simply not showing any photos you’ve originally attached.

It also sends a bad message to your followers. Automatically posted content says “I’m not really here and I most certainly don’t care”, which stops social media users to engage with you and your small business.

I have a full post on why when it comes to social media content, one size doesn’t fit all. Check it out!

2. Forgetting the essentials

I’ve seen a lot of ads, leaflets, brochures but also newsletters and websites that make a really good case for the advertised products and services. But as good as they are, they can still sabotage your marketing in one simple step.

Sometimes it’s as bad as forgetting to add how your customers can get in touch with you. Sometimes there is no call-to-action telling the reader what you want them to do next.

While the missing contact details are a no-brainer, many small business owners underestimate the power of a call-to-action that entices potential clients to grab the phone and order right away.

Find out more about how to write marketing copy that converts leads into paying customers.

3. Wrong personalisation

Have you ever gotten a newsletter starting with “Dear /FIRSTNAME/? Empty or wrong personalisation in newsletters or mass emails is simply careless.

If you sent something out like this, there’s a good chance people don’t read any further and bin the email immediately.

If the sender didn’t care enough to double-check their mailing list or add a fallback value for their personalisation, why should I spend my precious time reading what they have to say?

4. Grammar and spelling mistakes

Photo by AndreyPopov from Getty Images via Canva Pro

If you want to thoroughly sabotage your marketing, forgetting to proofread is a sure way to go. You can see the results everywhere – on cars, vans, shop signs and many more, including this post’s header image.

Of course, one-off typos fall under “shit happens”. But if you have typos everywhere or your writing is full of grammatical errors, people will definitely notice.

And it doesn’t matter if your spelling or grammar has nothing to do with the products or services you provide. It makes you look thoughtless at best and some people might wonder if you take your business as seriously as your writing.

5. Unruly company names

There’s a lot that can go wrong with company names. They can be unpronounceable, too long or simply look bad as a web domain. Take sandstonecastles, for example. While it is perhaps an unusual name, most people know how to spell it.

If I had chosen to use my full name for the business, I’m sure people would have struggled with “Denise Strohsahl Marketing Consultant” or

So always make sure your company name is memorable and doesn’t sabotage your marketing. It should appeal to your target group and convey what you offer.

And please avoid domain names that get you into even more trouble, like the guys from IT Scrap ( or Speed of Art (

6. Stop marketing altogether

It may sound counter-intuitive but being busy with clients or being strapped for cash are not an excuse to stop your marketing activities. On the contrary: They are the best reasons to start!

Seriously: You make money by getting more clients and you get more clients by promoting your services. Never forget that marketing is always about the future.

You might be busy right now, but if you don’t keep looking for your next client you might end up having nothing to do at all in the future.

Read more about how to market your small business when you’re busy.

7. Cast your net wide

Photo by Lozhoyle from Getty Images via Canva Pro

No, not everyone who’s alive and has money is a potential customer. Marketing to everyone is like marketing to no one at all – and a sure way to sabotage yours.

First of all, promoting your products to everyone out there is expensive. Secondly, how do you communicate the benefits of your services if the audience’s needs and wants are so diverse?

Define your ideal customers and shape your marketing communication around what you can do for them. Targeting a niche and specialising your small business might decrease your audience but it will certainly increase the chance of all your efforts resulting in new clients.

8. Ignoring your existing customers

Even if you sell products that people will only ever buy once in a lifetime: Never forget about your customers after the sale.

If they are very happy with your service, they can still recommend you to their friends and family and give you raving reviews online. And they will certainly share their disappointment if they feel like you aren’t willing to spend another second on them after their payment came in.

Nurture your existing customers; after all, they’re already rooting for you.

9. Me, me, me

Talking about yourself all the time and using “I”, “me” or “we” a lot in your marketing content has not necessarily to do with being self-centred. It just shows that your elevator pitches, company descriptions and social media bios lack customer focus.

So don’t sabotage your marketing and stop talking about yourself. Don’t just describe what you do and assume people know what, for example, a dentist or a photographer can help them with.

In marketing, it is all about the benefits and your customer: How do you help your customers? What do they gain from working with you? What makes you different from all the other dentists out there?

10. No follow up

Photo by fizkes from Getty Images Pro via Canva Pro

You meet people at a networking event or conference that might be interested in your services. Or not. You never really know. So what do you do? Go home, put their business cards on the ever-growing pile on your desk and at most connect with them on LinkedIn?

There’s a better way: Have a workflow in place to make sure to follow up with everyone you meet that might be of value to your business. Don’t just drop the ball or wait until you happen to meet them again.

Be proactive and find out how you can help them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to pester everyone around you with your sales techniques. But be sociable and friendly, drop them an email, engage with them on social media or help them out with a question they have. What goes around, comes around.


If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
13 Marketing Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Small Business
Customer Focus: Marketing Your Small Business Doesn’t Have to Be Annoying
7 Steps to Improve Your Customer Experience
How to Create a Powerful Customer Flow that Gets People Clicking Through

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.