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.