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Navigating the Marketing Maze: Common Small Business Branding Missteps

Updated: Jan 31

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Let’s jump into a few pitfalls that often befall small businesses in the realm of branding.

It’s all too easy to blend into the crowd and lose sight of the fact that small can indeed be mighty. One of the cardinal sins?

Casting a wide net and trying to appeal to everyone, ultimately reaching no one.

1. Everybody Needs What I Offer… or Do They?

  • While it's tempting to believe that everyone needs your product or service, it's crucial to position yourself uniquely.

  • A generic message appeals to no one.

  • Take a closer look at your current clientele.

  • Identify common factors, be it lifestyle, values, or preferences.

  • Focus your energy on those who resonate with your brand, rather than attempting to attract everyone within a 30-mile radius.

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2. Create Loyal Brand Ambassadors

Forge a tribe of loyal brand ambassadors, even if it starts as a small group. Their enthusiasm will pay off in spades as they become dedicated advocates, spreading your message organically.

3. The Fear of Exclusion: Won't I Lose Business?

If narrowing your target audience results in losing some business, it's likely business is not worth pursuing. Recognize that customers outside your "sweet spot" may prove more trouble than they're worth.

The goal is to stop wasting resources on a broad audience and, instead, focus on those ideally suited to your brand.

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4. The Magic of Specificity: Two Outcomes

  • You become more memorable.

  • You're perceived as an expert, unlike those attempting to appeal to everyone.

Case in point: I recently met a fitness instructor at a networking event. Her standout factor? Catering specifically to older women and their health needs.

This niche focus made her memorable, even to someone outside her target audience, like me.

5. How to Hone In: Marketing Personas

What is a marketing persona? It's a data-derived character representing your target audience, complete with demographics, goals, values, challenges, and more. Don't make it a creative writing exercise; base it on cold hard data.

Creating Personas: A Cold Hard Data Exercise

  • Utilize site analytics.

  • Conduct surveys and interviews.

  • Capture feedback relentlessly.

Develop 3-5 personas, each with a name and face. Run every decision against them. Ask: How would this affect Jane/Bob/Susie?

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Final Thoughts: Speak to Your Audience, Not the Masses

In conclusion, resist the temptation to market to the masses. Instead, focus on specific personas, even if it means some trial and error. Define who you're talking to first, and the rest will follow suit.


Navigating the Marketing Maze: Small Business Branding Missteps. Casting a wide net trying to appeal to everyone, and reaching no one.

Written by: Kate Putnam, CEO

20+ Yr Digital Marketing ProDriving Success for Local SEO & National BrandsSEO & Social Media | Innovative Solutions ExpertResults-Oriented Leader

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