The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

Marketing Mistakes

Marketing is part art, part science. There are few hard and fast rules.

That said, if you’re making any of the following blunders, your business is probably falling short of what it could be.

Are you messing up in any of these nine ways?

1. Seeing Competitors as Enemies

When you play a game of Monopoly, you don’t see the other players as your enemies. So why should business be any different?

Your competitors aren’t out to get you. They’re not trying to destroy you. They’re just playing the business game, in a similar space to you.

Having competitors is actually a good thing, for two big reasons:

  • Healthy competitors show there’s a strong market for your products or services.
  • You can learn from your competitors. Iron sharpens iron.

In fact, your competitors might even be willing to help you out. This is exactly what happened to entrepreneur Steve Cody. He explains:

When I launched Peppercomm, I knew my nascent firm wasn’t a threat to the giants in my industry, so I made a point to ask the big firms’ CEOs to join me for a drink. My goal was twofold: to let them know I’d started a business, and to ask them on bended knee to send any prospect my way that was either too small for them or that they perceived to be a conflict. Several large competitors did just that and ended up sending me hundreds of thousands of dollars in new business.

2. Not Knowing What You’re Selling

Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. You’ve told me you run your own business.

“That’s cool,” I say. “What does your business sell?”

How do you reply?

Can you explain your product in a couple of sentences? If you can’t do this in everyday language, then you need to get that fixed.

The power’s in keeping it simple.

Want another way of looking at this? Then answer the question:

How does your product or service improve the lives of your customers?

3. Buying Your Own Hype

Entrepreneurs have to be positive and forward-looking. It’s how we get investors and new customers on board.

Likewise, your marketing messages show the best of your products and services. You polish up for the cameras, and that’s okay. No one wants to air their dirty laundry.

The problem comes when you start to believe your own hype. It’s vital to have a realistic assessment of your business, and tackle problems as they arise.

4. Burying Your Contact Information

To sell to people, you’ve got to communicate with them. Hopefully, your website does a great job of this. But what if people want to know more?

Be easy to get in touch with. Don’t hide your contact details in an obscure section of your website. Make them easy to find, preferably on your homepage.

Worried that you’ll be inundated with queries from people who’ve already purchased? Remember that good customer service is a form of marketing. And if you’re genuinely scared about receiving a deluge of complaints, then your product or service needs work.

5. Failing to Measure ROI

We’re big on tracking your metrics here at Social Caffeine, and that’s not just because we’re math geeks. Fail to measure the results of your marketing, and you could be throwing away good money.

Yes, you’ve got to spend money to make money. But that’s not the whole story. Spending money doesn’t automagically make money. You’ve got to spend money wisely. And metrics give you that wisdom.

When you’ve found what works through the numbers, follow through on your discovery.

Freakonomics author Steve Levitt tells the story of how he once encouraged an international retailer to test the results of its newspaper ads. After testing, they found that the multi-million dollar ad campaigns made no difference. But they wouldn’t pull the ads, because that’s how they’d always done things.

You’re smarter than that, right?

6. Spamming Your Pitch

Business is all about knowing the right people. And we live in an age when it’s easier than ever to make connections with the right people.

That’s great, as long as you show respect for the people you’re making connections with. Treat people as people, not as a means to an end.

People can tell if you’re sending them a copy-paste email. You’re wasting your time and their time.

When you want to connect with someone, take time getting to know them. Cultivate the relationship. Then when you’re ready to work together, you’ll have a firm foundation in place.

7. Trying to Do it All

Yes, in an ideal world you’d have a limitless marketing budget. But you live in this world, the one you’re sitting in right now. And in this world, money, time and resources are tight.

Try to do everything, and you’ll spread what you’ve got too thin.

Instead, focus on what works. When it comes to your social media marketing, that can mean limiting yourself to one or two networks.

8. Failing to Follow Through

You’ve come up with a top dollar marketing strategy. You’ve started to implement, but it’s not delivering the results you hoped for.

Do you switch it up? If it’s a total failure, maybe. But it’s possible that it just needs time, and some careful tweaking.

Don’t change things around just for the sake of it. Do it for a reason.

This is especially true when you’ve got a winning formula. Remember when Gap changed their logo back in 2010? Okay, maybe you don’t. That’s because the new logo lasted all of two days.

When you’ve found what works, stick with it.

9. Telling Your Story

Okay, we admit, we’re joshing with you here. At least a little. Telling your brand’s story is a great idea.

That said, you should always focus on your customers when you tell your story. Tell your story to engage, not to stroke your ego.

Hot Topic Blog

When you’re writing a blog post, you want to tap into the zeitgeist.

That’s because if you join a conversation that’s already huge, you’ll find thousands of ready listeners.

But where can you find these big conversations?

Let’s take a look at three tools that help you find out what’s hot (and what’s not).

1. Google Trends

The word “Google” is synonymous with a web search. We say “I’m just going to Google it”.

So, if a search time is being typed into Google a lot, you can be sure it’s a hot topic.

That’s where Google Trends comes in handy. With Google Trends, you can see the things people are looking for right now.

Check out the Google Trends Visualizer to watch hot search terms being entered as they are typed (wow!).

Another helpful tool with Google Trends is that you can look up the interest in a topic over time. Take a look at this graph, which shows how interest in social media has soared since 2009:

2. Trending Twitter Hashtags

Twitter carefully tracks which topics are being talked about most, so you can what’s hot and what’s not.

You can always see the ten hottest trends in your Twitter sidebar.

The problem? These are based on where you live, so they’re only relevant if you write for a local audience. What’s more, you only see ten of them.

Hashtags.org keeps track of the 100 top trending hashtags all around the world. When you’re stuck for inspiration, check what’s trending.

3. Google Plus Explore

Google Plus’s Explore tool lets you see what people are most talking about.

Even better, you can filter results by a specific hashtag, which allows you to discover what people are talking about in your niche.

When you search by hashtag, you can also see related hashtags. Here’s the related hashtags we were shown when we searched #socialmedia:

Social Media Hashtag

This can help you see whether the topic is popular. As Mark Traphagen points out

A hashtag with no or few related tags may not be much used, or might be fading in use.

Over to You

What tools do you use to discover hot topics to write about?

Copyblogger Mystery

Copyblogger is one of the biggest success stories in the history of blogging.

Arguably, Copyblogger is a blog about a niche topic: how to write good blog posts. Yet with a global Alexa rank of around 2,000 (around 1,000 in the US), it’s one of the most popular websites online.

How did this happen?

There’s no single reason for Copyblogger’s success – but a range of factors that came together beautifully to make the website what it is today.

Let’s demystify Copyblogger. Here’s what set them apart from the crowd:

Willingness to Take a Gamble

When Brian Clark founded Copyblogger in 2006, he had no idea that it would end up where it is today. How could he? But he had an inkling that a blog covering the intersection of copywriting and blogging could prove popular.

As Clark said in an interview with HubSpot:

I didn’t think a blog about copywriting would be successful, but I did think a blog about the intersection of copywriting and blogging might have a shot.

He thought that it might have a shot. So he ran with it, dedicating hours every week to writing, editing, and publishing.

Writing Every Day

Back in 2007, Clark revealed his writing habits.

10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer

So writing seems important, huh?

Why write every day?

First, because that way you create a ton of content. Content is what keeps your blog kicking and breathing. No content, no blog.

Second, because practice makes perfect. The more content you create, the better you’ll get at creating content.

And if you need more inspiration, check out Copyblogger’s rules for writing first drafts:

10 Rules for Writing First Drafts

Writing Damn Good Headlines

Writing good headlines gets you noticed.

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing attributes the whole of Copyblogger’s success to headline writing. Jantsch explains:

The secret to Copyblogger’s success is that they write better headlines. That’s it, pretty simple, right? They write headlines (blog post titles) that are irresistible and can’t be skimmed in your RSS reader. Their titles feature words, phases and emotions that reach out and demand your attention.

Of course, these days few people use an RSS reader. But headlines are just as important for winning clicks from social media.

Jantsch gives the following examples of Copyblogger’s “must click” headlines:

  • How the Explosion in Online Education can Revolutionize Your Business
  • A Ridiculously Simple Way to Get More Revenue and Build Your Audience
  • How to Discover Your Hidden Remarkable Benefit
  • 7 Links That’ll Make You a Better Writer and Online Marketer
  • The 7 Bad Habits of Insanely Productive People
  • How to Increase Your Blog Subscription Rate by 254%
  • 5 Landing Page Mistakes that Crush Conversion Rates

Fortunately, Copyblogger is willing to lift up the hood and show you exactly how they write such awesome headlines.

Finding the Right People

Chris Garrett and Jon Morrow both started writing for Copyblogger in 2007. Sonia Simone joined the team in early 2008. All three of them have proved instrumental to Copyblogger’s success.

From the outset – and to this day (think Robert Bruce, Demian Farnworth) – Copyblogger has worked with some of the best in the business.

Yes, having money helps when you’re looking to hire, but good partnerships go much deeper than money. Who could you team up with to make something great? You’ve got to create before you can earn an income.

Copyblogger’s meteoric rise to fame (from unknown in 2006 to a relatively big player in 2007) wasn’t only due to creating awesome content. Back in 2007, Jim Kukral wrote to Brian Clark saying:

I know a bunch of other excellent bloggers who also write amazing high-quality content, and who have been blogging longer than you, but have nowhere near the success you have in terms of readers.

What else did Copyblogger do other than create great content? They networked with authority figures. This included a joint venture with Joe Vitale, where a Copyblogger eBook was bundled in with one of Vitale’s products.

Forging the right relationships goes a long way to helping you get ahead.

Listening to Reader Needs

Copyblogger is about becoming a better writer and marketing. It’s about creating awesome online content. And they share almost all this information (including many eBooks!) for free.

So how do they make money?

They listened to what their audience needed. What were their readers stuck with? Designing and coding stunning, SEO-optimized websites.

Brian Clark didn’t know how to code. So he got a team of coders together to create SEO-optimized, gorgeous-looking WordPress templates. StudioPress, Scribe, and Synthesis were born.

Being Generous and Authentic

Okay, it’s time for us to ‘fess up. We didn’t really need to demystify Copyblogger because there’s no mystery.

As Brian Clark wrote back in 2007:

I haven’t done a single thing to develop or promote this blog that I haven’t shared with you. There are no secrets.

In other words, all the “secrets” to Copyblogger’s success are already on Copyblogger. They’re open and honest about how they achieved their success. You can find out everything you need to know by reading the archives.

Your Call

What do you love about Copyblogger? What would you say are the key ingredients of their success?