Kill These Marketing Mistakes Instead Of Your Business
Marketing is the lifeblood of your business, but it’s a difficult subject to master, not to mention time-consuming and expensive. In order to survive a tough economy, however, it is vital to cut your marketing mistakes down to a minimum.
To help you get started, here are 10 mistakes most small businesses make and how you can start eliminating them from your marketing campaigns.
Top 10 Marketing Mistakes
1. Failing To Test – Good marketers test some things. Great marketers test everything. Prices. Headlines. Offers. Different Media. Greetings. think about each and every step of your sales process and test a new version against your old ones to see if they can be improved. Then test them again. In fact, why ever stop?
Our Marketing: We’ve tested our tagline and offers continuously for nearly three years, upgraded and modified every single service we’ve ever offered and are already on our third website due to various testing. Each area has contributed to our growth.
2. Failing to run direct response ads – Nearly every business wastes money on their space ads because they are more focused on what they do instead of what their customers get out of it. Your logo may be pretty and your tagline witty, but they don’t do much for the customer. Instead, use the space to announce a great offer and then make a call for action. Try it and see the difference.
Our Marketing: So far, we’ve been 100% advertising free, BUT we do send a lot of sales letters, each of which has been tested. Response rates have seen increases from 40% to 700%. Testing continues.
3. Failing to develop and implement a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – What makes you different than all the other plumbers, electricians, shoe stores or restaurants? Figuring out what this is and letting people know about it transforms businesses overnight.
Our Marketing: Prevail was created to fill a niche in the marketing field that guarantees results in return for a client’s business. Even so, our USP has changed from offering subscription services, to emphasizing partnership, to stating that we basically walk you down the path to marketing success, to now “Grow Your Business 10% Or More In The Next 12 Months…Guaranteed“. It’s hard to keep business cards up-to-date, but it’s more than paid off in growth.
4. Failing to build backend products – Let’s do some math. Acquiring new customers is expensive. Retaining those customers and selling them more quality products and services is profitable. Simple as that. Even if you think you only have one product or service to offer, you are wrong (and for the first time ever, you should be happy about it). Creativity is all that is required to build a backend for your business, even if it’s selling someone else’s wares.
Our Marketing: We successfully generate revenue from selling unsold leads, selling information products by mail and by building great websites that get results at a low price to open the door for our more expensive (and income-generating) ad writing and marketing services. We state this right up front in our sales letters and it works pretty good. We’ve also tested several other backend products, the most successful of which will be rolled out over the next few months. Some locally here in San Luis Obispo and some others as an extension of our online reach. Keep an eye out, we’re sure you will enjoy them.
5. Failing to determine and address customer needs – Your customer’s satisfaction dictates the success of your business. Why not give them exactly what they want? There are numerous free tools online to help you figure out what it is your customers want from you. Search for free polls, surveys and feedback forms for the ones most suitable for your needs.
Our Marketing: We’ve conducted dozens of surveys to find out what small business owners want from a marketing company, and as a result, our USP, offers, products and services have all consistently evolved over the last three years. We also conduct exit surveys with our clients and search for other polls and surveys available online. Remember, if you don’t have the time or money to run your own, you can still gain a good share of insight from similar polls and surveys.
6. Failing to sell and educate out of business problems – Have a great product, but not the sales to match? Educate the marketplace and let them know exactly why your products or services are so good. Then educate them some more. And along each and every step of your sales process. A powerful USP does a lot of this work for you, the reason it’s the first step in our “Step-By-Step Marketing” system.
Our Marketing: In addition to constantly crafting our USP, we’ve also tested four different front pages, all of which has been wordy, yet informative and educational. We also try our best to explain our services and guarantees in as much detail as possible, as well as provide transparency for the reasons why we do things. All these things erode buyer remorse and do most of the selling for us so we can eliminate expensive advertising from our marketing plan.
7. Failing to make doing business with your company easy and appealing – People are busy. The more they have to go out of their way to do business with you, the less likely you are going to close the sale. Go through your sales process as a customer and see for yourself what they experience. If there’s something you don’t like, fix it. This time, keep the customer in mind and they’ll enjoy doing business with you more.
Our Marketing: We’ve made it possible for our customers to contact us by phone, mail, email and even instant messenger. We accept basically any form of payment (seriously, look into PayPal if you don’t have your own merchant account), we have eliminated most customer inquiries by providing education, we answer the customer inquiries that do come in promptly, provide unlimited customer service and spend a lot of time networking and providing valuable free information to as many business owners as possible. We’re also working on establishing mini-foundations to give back to the San Luis Obispo County community and developing networking opportunities for our clients and the local community at large.
8. Failing to explain to your customers why you are an expert – Even if you are offering a similar product or service to someone else, you can still stand out by explaining how or why you’ve personally come about being in your business or why it’s so important to you to serve your customers. Perhaps you have gained elusive insight that expands the quality of your products or adds value to your service. You may even do the same exact thing as everyone else, but if the marketplace doesn’t know, they are going to trust the first one to tell them about it the most.
Our Marketing: In addition to learning invaluable lessons from failing at two businesses, I’ve also bought books and attended workshops and seminars on marketing totaling more than $168,000 and spent more than 13,140 (give or take a few) hours over the last 12 years studying and honing my skills in journalism, public relations and a wide range of marketing functions that are now rolled into our core step-by-step marketing service. While I’ve failed to ever boast of this information previously, I’ve now successfully avoided Mistake #8 of our own list right before your eyes.
9. Failing to stick with campaigns that still work – You don’t need to change for change’s sake. In marketing, truly, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Instead, refer to Mistake #1 and continue to test. If your test doesn’t beat your old campaign, don’t change it. Something must be working if it’s provided positive results over an extended period of time.
Our Marketing: Again, no advertising to speak of, but we’ve got some pretty solid data on our sales letter campaigns. Some of them stunk, some of them limped back and others are responsible for nearly 25% of our lead generation (the other 75% comes from referrals and organic search engine traffic). The losers were dumped and while we continue to test, the winners are sent out weekly and monthly like clockwork.
10. Failing to focus solely on your intended customer – Granted, this is the hardest mistake to avoid of them all, especially in economic slumps when you might be having days you are just happy the phone rings. Ironically, better defining your perfect customer and forgetting about everyone else will lead to higher profits. By figuring out exactly who best would gain from your products or services, you can better tailor your sales messages to them, thereby increasing your closing rates and decreasing your average cost per acquisition.
Our Marketing: Honestly, we’ve changed our business model several times in an attempt to best suit the marketplace, and until recently had an obtuse idea of our perfect client. The last 6 months or so we’ve been more focused on defining our perfect client and as a results our services have evolved more towards their needs than we originally set out to do. So who is our perfect client? It is the small business owner, with less than 10 employees, who has a current monthly marketing budget of at least $1000, who has overlooked some or many of the hidden assets in their business, is either unaware of or too busy to implement the testing necessary for marketing success, is either located in San Luis Obispo County or does business solely online, who desires growth and has the resources to handle it AND who provides a valuable and respectful product or service that we sincerely believe in.
Well, that’s it. The economy is slowing down, but that doesn’t mean that your business needs to. Economic downturns are the perfect time to invest more in your advertising, even if it’s not money. Spend more time testing and building relationships with your customers. Find out what they want and offer it them. Figure out who you are exactly and who exactly it is you can help best. Learn from these mistakes, or they very well could be the last ones you make in your business.