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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.

Creative Fire

So you’re all burned out of ideas?

Keep pushing, and you’ll find you’ve got more inside you than you believed possible. As William James once said:

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.

How can you get fired up again? What can you do to find your second wind?

1. Make It Into a Game

So you need to create content on a particular topic, but you feel like everything’s been written before?

Then come at it from a new angle. *”But I don’t have an angle!”*

You don’t need to find the angle. Let someone (or something) else find it for you.

Head over to the random idea generator. It’ll give you a word or a symbol. You can use this as your jumping off point. See, now you’ve got an angle.

Easier than you thought, right?

2. Head Outdoors

Artificial light boosts the levels of the hormone cortisol in your body.

Cortisol causes stress.

When you’re blocked for ideas, it’s stressful. And a stressed mind is a blocked mind. It’s a downward spiral.

Only by backing off can you release your creative flow. A really simple way of doing this is heading outside. If you’re stuck in an office, at least head over to a window for some natural light.

The other great thing about getting outside is that you’ll move your body. Exercise, like natural light, helps to encourage feel-good hormones. The better you feel, the easier you’ll find it to be creative.

3. Treat Your Obstacles as Puzzles

Instead of looking at your block as a problem, see it as a puzzle to be solved. It’s showing you the way forward. As Ryan Holiday puts it, “the obstacle is the way.”

In other words, keep fighting! You’ll only discover what you’re capable of if you refuse to let your obstacles defeat you. Here’s Ryan Holiday again:

The struggle against an obstacle inevitably propels the fighter to a new level of functioning. The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth. The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity. The enemy is any perception that prevents us from seeing this.

Of all the possible strategies for dealings with difficulties, this is the one you can always use. Everything can be flipped, seen with this kind of gaze: a piercing look that ignores the package and sees only the gift.

How Do You Deal with Creative Blocks?

Do you back off? Let them defeat you? Or do you keep pushing? What have you found is the best way through (or around) your blocks?

Newbie Blogger

Newbie bloggers, look away now. You don’t need to know this. You’re a babbling brook of sparkling innocence.

That’s a great way to be. Keep those wonder-goggles on for as long as you can.

And as for the rest of us, who have been in this game longer that we’d like to admit?

Experienced bloggers and business owners always have a ton to say to newbies. We like to believe we know it all. We’ve conquered the jungle, earned our stripes.

But maybe, just maybe, we can learn a thing or two from newbie bloggers.

What do newbie bloggers know that’s all too easy to forget once you’ve been fighting in the ring for a while?

(I know, I know, you weren’t born yesterday. Neither was I. Stay with me on this one).

Getting Ahead Isn’t Everything

Yes, if you’re a business owner, it’s vital that your business survives and even thrives.

But you don’t need to be at the head of the pack to do good work.

It’s good to do things for sheer, unadulterated joy. Follow your heart. Drop your ulterior motives and just have fun.

Instead of creating content to draw a crowd, write something that makes your heart sing. Do it because it makes you feel alive.

I don’t know about you, but feeling alive is way more important than having a piece of content go viral. (Although that feels pretty good, too.)

People Are Made of Stardust

The good folks over at the Institute of Physics confirm that stardust is what we’re all made of, saying, “It sounds like a line from a poem, but there is some solid science behind this statement” (perhaps not realising that it is a line from a poem).

We’re all fearfully and wonderfully made, as the good book says. We’re all human beings with blood pumping through our veins, with our own hopes, fears, and dreams.

Sure, other people can help you up the ladder. But remember that they’re people, and it can be just as fun to sit back and enjoy their company.

There’s stardust and magic all around. Don’t forget that.

Stats Aren’t Everything

Tracking your numbers is where it’s at if you’re serious about blogging and social media. You see what works and do more of it.

But stats aren’t everything. Chase numbers too far, and you can lose sight of why you started blogging in the first place.

Remember to take time to tune into what matters to you. Blogging is about finding the balance between doing what you care about and doing what gets clicks.

Speaking of numbers…

Small Is Beautiful

Building up a huge tribe of followers is great for your business. We’d never discourage it.

But small is beautiful, too. You don’t need a big community to have great discussions. In fact, having too many people talking can get in the way of conversation.

When you only have a handful of followers, you can get to know all of them in-depth.

Even if you’re a superstar who’s always in the spotlight, you need a small community of friends you can trust and who have always got your back.

So don’t just use social media to fuel your marketing or as an ego boost. Get out there and talk to people. Join Google Plus communities and Twitter chats. Have fun!

You Don’t Need All the Answers to Do Good Work

Blogging’s a journey. Newbie bloggers don’t always know a great deal about the topic they’ll be writing about. They figure, “I can learn by writing.” And their fresh eyes give them a unique perspective.

When you’ve been blogging on a subject for several years, you can start to feel like you should know all the answers. Many of your readers will hold you to that impossible standard.

The truth is, no one knows everything. We’re all still on the blogging journey, and we’re all learning every day.

Remember, you don’t need to know all the answers to do good work. And often you’ll do your best work when you’re stretching yourself, when you’re learning and exploring.

And while you’re out exploring, remember…

It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

Truth is, if you’re learning and growing you will make mistakes.

Make avoiding failure your aim, and you’ll avoid doing anything. In other words, you’ve got two options:

  • Fail forward; or
  • Stand still (and stagnate)

There’s no point in making mistakes for the sake of it. Once you’ve learned from your mistakes, don’t repeat them. But remember to keep experimenting.

Dream Big!

When you start out as a blogger, anything seems possible. You’ll build up a huge tribe, write an eBook series, blog every day, and become the go-to expert in your niche.

Yeah, riiiiight. Right? Well, maybe.

It’s not always possible to do everything you want. But without big dreams to drive you forward, you’ll stay stuck where you are. Dreams are the fuel for your soul. They’re what get out of bed in the morning and give you your mojo.

If your blog or business is growing and you want to take it to the next level, you can always hire help. Admitting you can’t do everything yourself is part of making your dreams happen.

Curiosity Matters

Curiosity is the opposite of cynicism.

Cynicism says: “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”

Curiosity says: “That was a pretty cool t-shirt. I wonder what would happen if I went there again?”

Curiosity keeps your heart open and pushes you to constantly challenge yourself.

So drop your cynicism and stay curious. You never know where you’ll arrive when you start chasing rainbows.

Newbie Bloggers: What do You Think?

If you kept reading, well you’re here now. So let us know your thoughts in the comments. What would you say experienced bloggers can learn from you?