I was like most business owners when I started. I was good at doing the core product and thought that would be enough. My training and experience had made me a good CPA. But I had never been trained in marketing and sales. I thought if I just did a good job, the customers would show up. I call this the “Build it and they will come” model. Unfortunately, I soon found out that the big problem with this model is not knowing what to do if the customers don’t show up.
Not knowing how to market is the biggest reason businesses fail. The following are the biggest marketing mistakes that I have made and have seen my clients make over the years:
Not spending enough time on marketing. If you are not spending at least half of your time on marketing, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Failing to target your marketing. You can’t afford to market to everyone. Pick a niche and create an offer that will appeal to them. You are much better off being a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond fighting off the sharks.
Not identifying your ideal customers. You should be able to communicate who your perfect customers are. Knowing what those customers look like helps you to design advertising that attracts them.
Not knowing what problems your prospects need solving. Concentrate on the benefits of your product or service rather than its features. You must know, in detail, what keeps your prospects awake at night. What pain do they have? What are they worried about? How can you solve their problems and alleviate their pain?
Not being consistent with your marketing. The company that runs poorly-designed advertising every month will outsell well-designed ads that are only run once. Whatever advertising you choose should be committed to for at least six months.
Only using one marketing channel. Your company should have a full quiver of advertising and marketing arrows. Once you find one way to attract customers, look for another to attract even more customers.
Not tracking and measuring marketing results. If you don’t measure your results, how do you know what is working, what should be improved, and what should be eliminated?
Not testing your new marketing before making a big buy. If you are planning on mailing out 10,000 postcards,you should test mail 500 first and make sure the results justify the costs.
Not including targeted direct mail. Direct mail still works and can be a very good way to get new customers. Today many business owners think this is too old-fashioned. Many companies focus all of their time on web and email advertising. I have found that only about 20 percent of my customers have signed up for my email list. I would be ignoring the other 80 percent if I didn’t snail mail them newsletters and offers.
Not creating an in-house list of your customers. This list is your most important asset. Build this up and you will always have the ability to sell new products and services quickly.
Forgetting to include a call to action and a deadline in all of your advertising. Don’t forget to tell your customers what step they should take next. Don’t assume they will know and follow through. Tell them what you want them to do and give them a deadline. This works.
Not knowing the lifetime value of your customers. Knowing how much your average new customer is worth helps you know how much you should spend to acquire them. Cell phone companies understand this and have built their business model around this key concept. They deeply discount the cost of a new phone knowing that they will easily make this up with huge profits on the future monthly service fees.
Stopping what’s working when times get tough. If it’s working, never stop. When times are tough, cut somewhere else. If it’s working, don’t stop, even if you are bored with it.
Not using free publicity opportunities. Send out press releases for everything. Get to know the newspaper editors and bloggers who cover your industry. Work to become a trusted source.