Here are 16 marketing mistakes business owners make – and how to avoid them.
We’ve all heard the expression “you have to spend it to make it”. So often new business owners have virtually no start-up capital. They allow enough (sometimes) to print some business cards, maybe get a website started and little else. They say “I’ll spend more on marketing when I’ve got some money” but put quite bluntly if you don’t spend money on marketing, you won’t get in business and you won’t have “more money”. You absolutely need start-up money not just for your accounting structure, or your business cards. You need to be prepared to spend some money on marketing.
No clarity around brand.
Branding is important, although for a start-up, you don’t have to spend a fortune on either the strategy or logo or branding style. I can find you logo options from $50 instead of $1,000 which will leave more dollars for other things. But, you should put branding in place and get some clarity around it.
No expert advice.
Tied in with the above, and usually due to a non-existing budget, new business owners really are not sure what to do. This isn’t just a blatant promotion of my own business, as a business coach and growth expert, but whoever you use you really do need the guidance of an expert. Start-ups are susceptible to what is being put in front of them at the time. So if someone good at selling convinces them to advertise in that particular medium, it might in fact use up all their seed capital. The campaign may not be relevant, well planned or effective.
As a business coach, I guide clients. If someone is proposing they spend $10K on a website, I will be advising my client pretty quickly of other options as 95% of websites do NOT need to cost this much. I have access to suppliers who can build websites from $1K to $3K and I’m talking Aussie websites which are of a high quality. I know often who to use (or not), what questions to ask when screening suppliers and of course what plan to put in place. I know where you can avoid long-term contracts locking you into something which doesn’t work. If you have limited funds, don’t put it all in one place.
No plan in place.
This is when disaster occurs. Either you blow all your money on the wrong activity, or you are all over the place and don’t put a great strategy in place. Just like goal setting, you need to have a plan, and it should be a written plan. We have all heard that old golden nugget “Businesses don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan”. One classic example is that you do all of one type of marketing, either print or online, whereas you need a balance of both. A mixed and balanced marketing plan will work better and more effectively and be more sustainable.
There is a strategy to close a sale and that includes eliminating objections, ideally well before they are raised. There are some great ways to stop people from even raising objections, but if they do, then knowing how (and being comfortable) handling So many new business owners are unsure of what objections buyers might raise, and even more so, how to handle those objections. Quite simply, they just don’t know what to say.
Make it easy for someone to buy from you.
It is amazing how often people make it hard to buy from you. Everything from not answering their phone or emails, right through to making you do their job for them. I’ve had need recently to ring a few tradies (and sorry guys but there is a common thread here) … I was frequently asked to “text me your details” or even worse “remind me on Wednesday morning when I’m in that area to do your quote”. Really? Am I your prospective customer, or your secretary (or mother?) I won’t even get into those people who quote and either (a) don’t send in their quote or (b) don’t follow up on their quote!
Being too easy.
Whilst you need to make it easy to buy from you, you don’t want to be too easy and come across as desperate. If someone rings you for an appointment and says “are you available today?” the answer should be no. You’re great at what you do, therefore you are in high demand, so the first appointment you have available is later this week or next week. Remember the medical specialists and how you wait weeks/months to get to see them and you dare not cancel as you’ll wait forever to be rescheduled. There is the perception they are good, in high demand and so when you are charged a fairly large consultation fee, you expect and accept it. If your heart surgeon said, “sure come on down, I’ve got no appointments today”, I’d be really worried. Check out my other blog specifically on perception.
Their marketing message is unclear.
This usually comes about by businesses that are unclear of their USP (Unique Selling Proposition), who their ideal client is and what they are specifically targeting. Sometimes, quite simply, they don’t know. I don’t believe in spending your whole budget on researching/reporting on this and getting a beautiful 20-page report, however, you can’t skip this step either. You need to know who your ideal client or customer is and be clear about your message. You need to have done some market research and that includes researching your competitors.
Not using social media.
I still get a few business owners who think social media is a whole lot of rubbish. The reality is that billions of people hang out on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social platforms. How we do business is changing dramatically and you have to keep abreast of those changes, otherwise you are going to be left behind – very quickly. Now, I appreciate it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and if that is the case, engage someone to do it for you. You don’t have to be on everything, but be on what is more effective for you. For me, if I had to choose only one platform, I’d stick with LinkedIn. On that note, social media, especially LinkedIn is not set and forget. Just like your website, Facebook and really, all your marketing, you have to keep posting, responding and engaging. It works for those who work it.
Not using video.
2 billion videos are viewed on YouTube every single day! More than 60% of our web traffic is now being generated from video. Each and every month more than 180 million people watch videos. These are huge numbers and maybe you don’t (and can’t) reach every single one of these people, but wouldn’t you like to just reach some of them? If the video is a welcome video on your home page, I would engage a professional, but again, this doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you are providing tips, education or information, then depending on your industry (and the level of professionalism expected) you may well get away with the “selfie” videos done on your phone; just ensure lighting and sound are reasonable.
Not spending at least 50% of your marketing on online strategies.
Realistically, this probably should be more like 60%. I’ve talked about variety and not putting all your eggs into a single basket. Older and longer established businesses have to move with the times and recognise that online is where it’s happening and they cannot rely on the old ways of doing things. However, I would not recommend putting 100% of your budget to online … you do need that balance.
Not having a free offer or compelling offer.
Ten years ago you could get away with not having a free offer, sample or complimentary initial consultation. Those times have passed. People are smarter with their money and don’t part with it without knowing they are likely to get value for money. One way of knowing this is to have a sample, trial or introductory “loss leader”. A loss leader is essentially a service you provide at a loss, but which you know is very likely to have a high degree of success and feeds into a larger and more profitable package. Many trainers will offer a half-day workshop for a tiny $29 or $49 with the view that once you see how great they are, you will be upsold into one of their high-level packages. As a business coach, I offer serious prospects a 45-minute free consultation. This isn’t 45 minutes of me selling, but rather me showing them how great I am. My conversion rate is really good, so I consider these ‘freebies’ part of my marketing budget. Videos and eBooks are another example of free offers, which you provide only when someone gives you their contact info so that you are able to market to them ongoing.
This is not reserved for the newbie business owner, lots of people hate doing this. They feel really uncomfortable promoting their business and themselves and telling others how great they are and why their services or products are amazing. Did you notice I said in the above tip “how great I am”? For years I have referred to myself as an industry expert. That isn’t because I am ‘full of myself’ but because I know I am good at what I do and I’m comfortable saying it. YOU should be too. If you have decades of experience, do a great job, then don’t be scared of saying so.
Not collecting testimonials and using them.
So if you are a little uncomfortable saying how wonderful you are, then it’s much easier to let others say it. Make it practice to ask for, collect and USE testimonials from your clients. Someone else saying you are wonderful is in fact far effective than you saying it, and it’s easier for you if you are not comfortable ‘peacocking’. One client of mine said “Wow … Donna has done more in a few weeks than several other coaches have done in several months”. Testimonials like this are really powerful and should be proudly displayed everywhere, especially your website and marketing material. A little plug for David, if you need a great professional lawn mowing service in Brisbane (south side) just ask me and I’ll connect you. : )
Not utilising free PR.
Your local newspaper is a great resource that many people ignore. If you have some news, have achieved an awesome milestone, released a new exciting product or won a business award, then contact your local paper. If it’s something substantial even contact your local TV station. They are always looking for news, information and human interest stories … it’s just a matter of finding an interesting angle to pitch the article to segment to them.
Stopping & starting.
Personally, I don’t love roller coaster rides when it comes to business, it is definitely to be avoided. I like a nice steady pace, knowing work will be there next week and next month (and next year) and not working till 2am some days, and then other days having no work. Frankly, this hasn’t happened to me for over 15 years! Why? Because marketing to me happens 365 days a year. Slow and steady I just do it every day, every week, so there are no ups and downs in my workload (other than a couple of weeks around Christmas, which is then when I review my website, systems etc.). Unless you like the thrill of not knowing where your next job will come from or burning the midnight oil, then be consistent in your marketing and your workload (with some other strategies) will become more consistent too.
If marketing is not your strength and you are needing more business in the door, then get assistance from a specialist. I’d be happy to connect you with great website designers, or social media people or to have a chat with you to let you know what I can do to help you. Call me on 0411 622 666 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.