I took one of my interns out to a meeting yesterday and afterwards we got talking about the most common marketing mistakes businesses make. I’d have to say that over the years, the most common mistake I’ve noticed is that people fail to appreciate just how hard effective marketing actually is – and that it’s just getting harder every year. Sure, we now have a ton of technology that enables us to do things we couldn’t do in the past – but your competitors also have access to that same technology. And yet, time after time, I come across business people who seem to think that all they need to do is build a website and a brochure and customers will beat a path to their door. It’s what we call the Field Of Dreams Delusion – build it and they will come.

That might work once out of a thousand cases. The rest of the time you have to work bloody hard and bloody smart to get your message in front of the right people at the right time for your business to succeed. That’s why most surveys say that after running out of cash, the most common reason SME’s fail is a lack of attention paid to their marketing. And it’s not something you can afford to kick down the road. It starts on Day One of the business. Too many business people don’t invest in marketing until their sales take a hit, at which point it is often too late, because building a brand takes time.