When you’re a creative small business owner, you’ll make mistakes. The key is what you learn from the mistakes and how they contribute to your growth. Tricycle Creatives works with a lot of creative small business owners and over the years there were times that felt like the Groundhog Day movie.
Working with people who are inexperienced with digital marketing is fairly common for us so we would see the same mistakes being made. In this post, I’ve put together the five biggest, most common digital marketing mistakes. They are five mistakes that can result in massive headaches and expense.
#1: Not having access/control over website and socials
For many small business owners, updating their website and social media is something that they don’t do themselves. It’s something that they have someone else in their business do or they hire someone externally. Then, it becomes an out-of-sight, out-of-mind task. This, however, becomes a huge problem when they need updates or when the person responsible is fired or leaves the business.
This happens all the time. In the past year, I’ve worked with three clients who were owners of their business but had no idea (or no access) to their own website. In one of those situations, the owner of the website (who wasn’t an employee) even tried to shake down my client for money in exchange for access to their own website.
This is also something I see a lot on social media. The business owner generously distributes passwords to the social media accounts and then forgets who has them. Consequently, people post content to the business’ social account by accident or, even worse, if they leave on bad terms they can reset the password and lock the business owner out from their own social media accounts.
What Can You Do?
- If you are working with someone to do your website updates, demand that they give you an account at the highest level of permissions. If you’re on WordPress, you want an Admin account (see the breakdown of roles here). If you’re working in a Wix or Squarespace site, you want an Owner account and can grant your website person Admin access (Wix roles breakdown, Squarespace roles breakdown)
- Use a password manager. By using a password manager you’ll be able to keep them organized, have them encrypted (goodbye sticky note on the computer monitor), and safely share them with your employees. You’ll also be able to turn access on/off based on the user and they will never get your actual passwords. Here’s a great list of the top password managers for business.
#2: Not using free tools
When it comes to digital marketing, there are a TON of SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions available and it can easily get confusing and overwhelming. But many of the digital/social giants provide you with free tools that you can use and, in some cases, they can be as good as their counterparts that you have to pay for. Here’s a short list of some of my favorite free or freemium (you get partial access for free, have to pay for full access) tools:
#3: Buying the wrong tools
Do you remember the original Pinocchio movie? In it, there’s a character named Honest John who tricks Pinocchio into a number of scenarios that, simply put, are not good for him.
But the thing about it is that it’s not totally Pinocchio’s fault. He wants to do what’s best but he doesn’t know what’s best (enter Jiminy Cricket).
A similar thing occurs for creative small business owners when it comes to buying digital marketing tools, software, etc for their business. Many of them don’t know exactly what they need so they bounce around from tool to tool, flushing money down the toilet as they go.
What Can You Do?
- To avoid buying the wrong tools, you need to first have a strategy and goals in mind. Once you’ve defined those, you can then look to the tactics you’re going to use to be successful – that’s where the tools come in.
- Check out our YouTube channel: it’s full of reviews of my favorite SaaS platforms that help creative business owners grow their audience, their knowledge, and their business.
- Talk to Software Advice: they are a free service that helps match businesses with the software they need. It’s a totally free service and I even had their Group Vice President, Blake Clark, on TriPod (the Tricycle Creative podcast).
#4: Trying to be on EVERY social platform
Before we dive into this mistake, I want to ask you a question: are you, personally, actively on every single social media platform? And when I say actively, let’s say 3-5 hours per week.
The answer here is probably no. You probably have one or two that you gravitate towards and spend a bulk of your time on and then when they get stale, you move on to a different platform when you’re bored.
Many creative small businesses will be told that they NEED to be on (fill in the blank) for their social media marketing. Then, you get FOMO because you think that if I don’t go over there, all my competitors will, or already have, and they are probably just laughing it up and swimming in their money bin.
No one’s impressed by a TikTok account that’s never posted anything. It’s not doing you any good AND it’s probably causing you anxiety because there’s always that whisper in your ear that you should be posting something there.
What Can You Do?
Start small to grow big.
One of the first things I often do with clients is to put some of their social media accounts in timeout. Let them go away for a bit and just focus on one platform to grow their audience and expertise. So how do you know which platform? Well, the answer is different for each creative business owner but it should be based on a couple of factors:
Where is your target audience? Everyone’s so quick to pronounce the death of Facebook but guess what – a ton of people use it. And, when I say a ton, they clocked in 2.7 billion active users as of the second quarter of 2020 making it the biggest social network worldwide. If your audience is on Facebook, that’s ok. It seems like so many businesses see this as some sort of indicator that they aren’t cool. If your audience skews younger than Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat may be in order. One thing to remember when I say “audience” – this is prospective customers. The right audience is prospects who are going to pull out their wallets and actually buy something from you. A vanity audience full of people who will never buy from inflates your ego, not your revenue.
What platform do YOU enjoy (or find yourself on) the most? Why is this something to think about? Because if you enjoy the platform and the content creation, then the end result will most likely be better.
What type of content can you create? This generally falls into four categories: words, video, audio, and graphics.
What type of content do you enjoy creating? If I’m going to speak my truth, I don’t love writing blogs. I find it much easier and more fulfilling to do a podcast or produce a video. That’s just me. It might be the complete opposite for you. It’s ok to admit that maybe you’re a bit camera shy or hate the way your voice sounds. You have to start somewhere and ideally, you want the start to be as painless as possible. By doing this you’ll be more likely to create quality content that matters to your online audience and generates engagement.
How much time do you dedicate to content + conversation? This question is usually what rules out Twitter for most businesses. Twitter is the most unique of all the social media platforms as it has tremendous upside but it requires the most effort as you need to consistently engage in conversations. And while engaging in conversations is a best practice for all social media, it’s really a requirement on Twitter.
Want to be a better marketer?
Here are four ways we can help you…
- Subscribe to TriPod (the Tricycle Creative podcast): it’s chock full of digital marketing news, tips, and strategies.
- Join our email newsletter : no spam, just helpful digital marketing updates!
- Check out the Tricycle Creative YouTube channel: walkthroughs, how-to’s, and more!
- Join our Facebook Group The Playground: it’s a place for creative business owners to collaborate, learn, and be inspired.