Business Mistakes I’ve Made & Seen: #1 Marketing

September 15, 2023



I’ll come clean about my first mistake: trusting a local PR / marketing company to handle my business activities.

When you’re a small start up business, it can be easy to be told that you need a company to handle your PR and Marketing; it’s almost a black arts service that is often portrayed as something can only be successful when the right people do it.

After paying a company £1,000/month for 3 months with zero results, I made time to sit down and assess matters:

1. I was writing the copy for press releases going out each week, with a few minor edits.
2. The best coverage was from being part of a Business Link Angel investment presentation (resulted in press coverage in both the Liverpool Echo and Manchester Evening News)
3. The reason I got on TV with ITV’s most famous doctor at the time, was from a direct approach I had made to Granada News.

Needless to say that I parted company with the 2 ladies, who as it turned out, closed their business less than 2 years later.

Now 20 years later, I’ve seen a community project get funding from an area “agency” for marketing, but it was stipulated that they HAD to use a certain person. They paid her £8,000 for writing the copy which had to be corrected by one of their team (sounds familiar right!). This got them 2 “advertorial” slots in an online business webpage at a cost of £2,000 each slot (making her fee £4,000). No prizes for guessing that there was no increase in followers on any of their social media accounts.

Over the years, here are some other marketing offers I have come across the following:

1. Pay a company to be listed in their online directory of businesses. Prices for these range from £50 to £180/ month.

2. Pay to come along to an exhibitor event. It may look good on paper, probably being held at a reputable location in the area, but this is no guarantee of footfall. Even if you are paying to attend a more national event, be sure to ask about daily attendance numbers; sometimes waiting until the week before a national show and giving them a call to see if there is any last minute free space will allow you to negotiate a much better financial deal; you need to make sure that you are still able to get into the exhibitor’s brochure though as a lot of people will scan these and mark off they stands they want to attend.

3. Pay to be the host of a local radio slot, most of which are online only. IMO, they should be paying you to fill a slot for them.

4. Pay to have a book published; what used to be called “vanity press”. I see quite a few speakers now talk about their book, but what they really mean is their online only. This is no way meant to discredit their work, but I am from the generation where respect was paid to authors because a publisher had thought their manuscript was worth taking on to print and sell.

The common thread here is that you “Pay” with no guaranteed results. Fine if this is made very clear up front so you can make an informed choice. Attending a local event as an exhibitor may result in small or no interest or sales and your exhibitor’s charge, petrol and time may have been better spent elsewhere.

As a former member of our Armed Forces, you have a story and as a country, we all have respect for our military. Reach out here and let us, as a community, suggest what we think might work to get you that “hook”. It often takes someone impartial to say “wow” that makes you realise that you have done something worthy of sharing.

If you’re involved with a community project, then you may even get regular mentions. For example one of our friends is a PT, but goes into a special needs school to give free lessons.

We can maybe help you to write a basic story that you can tweak and then send out to local press – everyone loves a local story. And if you’re prepared to wait for them to have a “slow day” news wise or that monthly feature on say “gardening”, you won’t have to pay anything. They won’t promote your business or products directly, but this is where your story comes in, it’s about you and what you’ve done. They will more than likely to be OK finishing off by mentioning what you’re doing now.



This morning, I saw a post on an online neighbourhood site encouraging people to complete a response to an adjourning council’s annoucement that it was

Read More »