I think it\u2019s safe to say that readers on Small Business Trends are typically a fairly savvy, ambitious bunch.\u00a0 We know that it takes hard work and smart strategy to make things happen.\u00a0 On occasion, we\u2019ll begrudgingly admit that there\u2019s even an element of luck to it all \u2013 \u201cthe right place at the right time,\u201d we\u2019ll say. That being the case, you already know that to do anything well, you have to have follow-through.\u00a0 And that rule most certainly applies to content marketing. \u00a0However, many ambitious small business owners end up dropping the \u201ccontent marketing ball\u201d at various places throughout the sales funnel. I\u2019d like to cover the four major ways in which many of us are slipping up: Aiming for the wrong target. Forgetting about gamification. Failing to create brand advocates. Disregarding the value of repeat customers. A Lesson in Target Practice Unfortunately, many businesses are screwing up from the get-go by aiming for the wrong target.\u00a0 Remember, content marketing is about having a conversation.\u00a0 If you aren\u2019t positioning yourself in the places where potential customers are talking, then there\u2019s no way your efforts will be effective. For some businesses, Twitter is king.\u00a0 Others might rely heavily on Pinterest.\u00a0 Figure out where your clients are. Gamification Really Does Work So why have you forgotten about it?\u00a0 The principles of gamification are simple, and incredibly easy to employ in your content marketing strategy.\u00a0 You\u2019re already sharing your own content in blog posts and guides, through Tweets and Facebook posts.\u00a0 Why not incentivize the re-sharing of your content? Give discounts, promotional codes, and freebies to those who share your stuff.\u00a0 Not only are they helping you self-promote, but they\u2019re also more likely to be your repeat customers. Remember: gamification is typically useful only to those businesses that are already established.\u00a0 This isn\u2019t a strategy for companies that are new to the races. Where Are Your Brand Advocates? If you\u2019re making sales, especially if you\u2019re making repeat sales, then you clearly have something good going for you.\u00a0\u00a0 So, why aren\u2019t you encouraging customers to become advocates for your brand?\u00a0 Start using your social media profiles to encourage your customers to share your brand with friends.\u00a0 While gamification can help, you can\u2019t rely on this technique solely. Encourage customers to create their own content about your brand.\u00a0 Sound scary?\u00a0 It shouldn\u2019t be. According to the above\u00a0graphic from BzzAgent, brand advocates are twice as likely to create online content about your brand than the average web user.\u00a0 Also, they are usually genuine and free communicators.\u00a0 Get these people on board. Coca-Cola has some pretty amazing brand advocates.\u00a0 Coca-Cola CMO, Joe Tripodi, wrote in April 2011: \u201cWe estimate on YouTube there are about 146 million views of content related to Coca-Cola. However, only 26 million views were of content that we created.\u00a0 The other 120 million views were of content created by others.\u201d Talk about advocacy! Where Are Your Repeat Customers? If you think your business doesn\u2019t lend itself well to repeat customers, think again.\u00a0 You\u2019ve already used content marketing to go through all the hard work of earning first-time customers.\u00a0 It only takes a little more work to make them repeat customers. Depending on the nature of your business, some customers may drop off the map after the sale, but that doesn\u2019t give you the excuse to drop the ball.\u00a0 Use an effective email marketing strategy that targets your different types of customers.\u00a0 Keep tabs on how long it\u2019s been since a customer has purchased from you, and know what their needs are one week later, one month later, one year later, etc. Without being obnoxious, make sure that you\u2019re emailing them offers and information on how you can meet those needs.\u00a0 Also try implementing a loyalty program.\u00a0 This is a great way to encourage customers who might not otherwise be inclined to do repeat business. Stop Dropping the Ball! These are just four of the big areas where I see clients slipping up.\u00a0 Of course, pitfalls are everywhere. What areas do you consider to be the risky disaster zones where we can lose all of our hard work in the blink of an eye?