5 common marketing mistakes you might be making

Vincent Ninh
May 16, 2023
min read

There’s a lot of good content out there about how to market your business. But, what you shouldn’t do is just as important, and it’s not a topic that comes up as much.

That's why we’ve gathered in this article some of the most common marketing mistakes we see from home services businesses, and added some tips on how to avoid them. Heed these five warnings and you'll ensure your marketing strategies are running smoothly — and that your money and time are spent wisely. 

Mistake #1: Running no marketing at all

Completing jobs is how you actually pay your mortgage, your food, your kids’ expenses, your vacations — everything.

Therefore, doing anything other than the job may seem like a waste of time and money. But the truth is that a well-oiled marketing strategy can significantly boost your bottom line, and doesn’t necessarily require a big time commitment or budget. 

Email marketing, for instance, is a channel that has an ROI (return on investment) of $36 for every dollar you spend and doesn’t require a ton of resources if you know what you’re doing. 

There are many other marketing tactics for the time-crunched and penny-wise too; three that we’d strongly recommend are: social media, review-building, and referral marketing:

How to build a successful social media strategy in 5 minutes a day

How to polish your Google Business Profile for more leads (includes review-building tips)

How to increase customer referrals and get free leads

Whatever your potential level of dedication to marketing is, remember: doing some marketing is better than doing none.

Mistake #2: Not establishing goals

Spontaneity is great sometimes. But when it comes to marketing, you need more than vibes to create a viable plan. Before launching any campaign or initiative, it is essential to determine how you’ll measure success. 

For example, if you are running paid search ads, a goal could be to get at least 250 new leads per month. Or if you’re trying to ramp up your social media presence, you could aim to gain 1,000 new followers on Instagram in the next three months.

Ideally, you’ll want your goals to be as specific as possible, but if you’re not yet comfortable with setting exact target numbers, going for a more generic goal — like gaining new customers — is a good start. 

That’s not to say there’s no room for improvisation in marketing. Do you have a fun campaign idea that could support one of your goals? As long as there’s some reasoning behind it, give it a go and see the results. Trying new things is an important part of marketing. 

Mistake #3: Not knowing your audience

Running a campaign without an audience in mind is just like shooting a free throw with your eyes closed, which only works if you're Michael Jordan (and we are guessing MJ isn't scouring the web for home services-specific marketing advice).

To get the best results from your marketing initiatives, you need to understand and target your best customers. The good news is that you should already have a pretty good sense of who those customers are.

Where do they live? What problems do you help them solve? What other patterns or trends do you see?

Document all this information, and use it to inform your marketing efforts. Note that you might want to create multiple audience profiles that you choose from (e.g., new vs existing customers) for different types of campaigns.

A good way to get even more information on your audience is to analyze your past marketing campaigns. For instance, if your ads promoting your excellent reviews have consistently gotten you more leads than those promoting a coupon, you can infer that your reputation matters more to your audience than a discount.

The more information you have on your audience, the more you can refine your ads — and the better results you’ll get. 

Mistake #4: Just throwing money at it

When a paid ad isn’t giving you the results you hoped for, it can be natural to want to increase your budget. The more money you spend, the more leads you get, right? Technically, yes.

But before you open up your wallet and commit to spending some more of your hard-earned cash, try to get the root of the problem first. 

Often, you can reduce the cost of your paid ads just by tweaking them. Suppose you’re running Google search ads, one of the most effective ways for home service businesses to generate leads.

Are you targeting the right keywords? Is your ad copy convincing? Does your landing page provide all the information needed?

These are all questions you (or whoever's helping you with your ads) need to address to get more conversions without having to up your spend. Now, if you've already extensively tested and optimized your ads, it can make sense to up your spend to increase leads.

(Check out our full guide to Google search ads for more advice on how to create optimized and cost-effective campaigns.) 

Mistake #5: Exaggerated, inaccurate and inconsistent messages

Have you ever driven past a sign advertising the “best cinnamon rolls in the west,” tried them, and then experienced immense disappointment when they were barely above grocery-store quality?

OK, maybe you haven’t had that exact experience, but at some point, you’ve probably fallen victim to some misleading advertising. Don’t put your customers through that. Yes, the goal of marketing is to get customers through the door, and you want your campaigns to catch the eye, but there’s a fine line between being enticing and deceiving. 

One of the most effective (and ethical) ways to show off what makes your business special is to use claims you can back up in your ads. Examples include: your online customer rating, range of services, or turnaround times. From there, you can throw in more creativity and excitement — without feeling like you’re lying to customers.

Another best practice is to ensure you are promoting consistent messages across different channels; it will make your brand appear that much more unified (more tips on how to develop your brand here). For instance, if you are running a promotion, try to advertise it in several places — social media, email, direct mail, etc.

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