Common Marketing Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)
If you're like many business owners, you're either doing the wrong marketing activities well, or doing the right marketing activities wrong. Now, how could that ever happen? It's quite simple really, let me explain:
Firstly, in my business experience, I've noticed that most entrepreneurs and business owners have one thing in common. They spend most of their time working "in" their business, and very little time working "on" it. That is, they spend too much of their precious time performing operational tasks and far too little (if any) time planning how they want their business to perform.
As a result, they cannot see the forest for the trees. They just keep on doing what may have worked well once. Quite often, because they deal with so many day-to-day hassles, they just keep doing what does not create another hassle. They rarely stop to question whether what they're doing is working well now, let alone whether they could do any better.
Secondly, the brutal reality is that most business owners have never had any marketing training!!
If you want to do your marketing "right", you have to start with a plan. That way you'll avoid the 1st mistake - no marketing plan. Let me be clear, I'm not talking about some 200 page monster. That's usually too much and a waste of time. I'm talking about something that you can do in one day. Go get a pen and paper, or boot up your PC and we will start.
Step 1: Just Who is Your Market and Competition?
People buy goods or services for one of two reasons; 1) to solve a problem, or 2) to make them feel good.
A common mistake that many small business owners make is to pioneer some product or service without first understanding the market and what it wants. People will not buy things they don't want.
A profitable market has people who will buy your solution, at a price that will make you money. Simple, isn't it? And that market has to be big enough to be worth your while. Your customer chooses you because you provide a better solution to getting the product or service they want.
To understand your market, answer questions like these:
- What segments of my market are under served?
- Are these segments big enough to make money?
- How much share of this market do I need to break even?
- How much competition do I have?
- Can I leverage my strengths against my competitors' weaknesses?
- Does this market want or value my unique competitive offering?
Step 2: Do You Understand Your Customer?
You have to know who your "perfect customer" is, what they want, and what moves them to buy. Most business owners do have a gut feel for this, I'm asking you to put it down on paper; it will force you to better describe them.
A common mistake made by many owners is that they try to be all things to all people. Don't fall into this trap. Think about your perfect customer.
Now, to quantify the above, ask yourself these questions:
- How does my perfect customer usually buy my kind of products? In a store, can they be 'telemarketed', or at a consumer trade show?
- Who is the primary buyer? The husband or the wife? Both? A business owner?
- Where do they get their information? Newspapers? The Web? Trade magazines?
- What is his primary motivation to buy? To make more money? Be Healthy? Save money?
Step 3: Find Your Niche!
It's better to have 50 percent of a targeted niche that you understand well, than to have five percent of a much larger market that you're not intimately wise about. Your goal is to dominate that niche, to make it yours. After that happens, you can look for your second niche. You have dealt with businesses that were very niche specific, and you could tell.
They were super experts on their product or service, their staff was focused, and their marketing message was very specific. But make sure your niche is easy to contact and communicate with.
Focus your thinking to grow your sales.
Step 4: You Need to Develop Your Marketing Message
Your marketing message tells your prospect what you do. It also needs to move them to become your customer. The mistake most business owners make is that their message is all about them, not the prospect. "What's in it for me?" the prospect will ask. Craft your message to focus on his benefits in buying from you.
- Tell the prospect what his problem is.
- Give him some proof that it should be solved now.
- Tell him the benefits your solution provides.
- Why he should only pick you.
- Testimonials and examples from people like him who you have already helped.
- Your unconditional guarantee.
- You also need to have a clear, concise "elevator speech" that gives the person you are meeting an instant idea of what you do. Don't be selling, be educating. 10 seconds, maximum.
Step-5: What Should Be Your Marketing Mediums?
These are how you deliver your marketing message. You want to choose the mediums that deliver your message to the most niche prospects at the lowest cost. There are many, from the common ones like radio, newspapers, brochures and flyers, to less utilized ones such as media releases, articles you write for publication, post cards, public speaking, charity events, and infomercials.
Once you understand your niche market, determine the appropriate match.
Step 6: Set Some Goals!
Chances are, you don't have a boss. You are it! So you need to develop specific goals, let your team in on them, make them part of the plan and its success, and hold yourselves accountable for reaching them.
Your goals should be financial and non financial. Keep everyone on your team abreast of the score. You would never play a game without keeping score would you? How would you determine your strategy if you did not know whether you were winning or losing? Think of it like your favorite sport or game, with all of you the players. You have to keep score.
Step 7: You Need a Marketing Budget
If you have been in business over 1 year, and know your prior marketing expenses, find your costs as a percentage of sales, or getting each new customer, or both. For example, if you sold 1000 customers an average of $1000 each, $1 million in total, and your marketing expenses were $50,000, then each new customer cost you $50. Now you can see that marketing properly done is always an investment, never an expense. You can work on lowering the client acquisition cost down to say, $40, with a better message in a more apt medium.
You have to look at it this way. You run out on the street with a bunch of $50 bills, and every time you give one away, your sales go up by $1000.
Mind you, you have to engineer the systems in your business to handle all that new business you are ensuring will come in. But that's a story for another day.
That's it, now you know how to do it. Set aside some time to develop your marketing plan. Get all those ideas out of your head, and onto paper. Chances are, something else in your business may demand your immediate attention, and you'll not get through this marketing plan exercise.
Pretend you have a boss that you are answerable to, and just imagine that your deadline is next Tuesday. There are valid reasons why people have bosses in companies and why progressive business owners get coaches. It's all about accountability.