Running a small business means making a large number of decisions on a daily basis, some of them related to marketing. And, certainly, you make each one with the end goal of getting your name out there so you can grow bigger and stronger. But what happens when your decisions are inadvertently doing the opposite? What if your actions (or inactions) are actually making it harder to obtain and retain new clients and customers?
Marketing is always an interesting topic to me because it is like this huge mountain that stands between me and my success, making me wonder the best way to climb over it. And since I’m not the type that easily backs down, thanks largely in part to my 15 years in law enforcement I suppose, I have made a conscious decision to conquer this mountain and learn as much as I can about marketing, thereby uniting me with the success that I know waits patiently for me on the other side.
That is why I reached out to the one person that makes marketing (climbing that mountain) actually look easy. His name is David Newman and he is the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition.
David was nice enough to share with me, and with you, the three most common marketing mistakes that he sees almost every day. Even better, he has also provided things you can do to make sure you don’t make the same ones yourself. What are these all-too-common small business faux pas?
Not Getting Marketing Help In Time, Or At All
David says that this is the mistake he sees the most. A lot of small business owners are great at delivering their products or services, but they are terrible at marketing and sales. It is something he refers to as “failure to embrace their role of Marketing in Chief.” This causes them to not get marketing help in time, or not get it at all, either of which can really hurt a business because companies that win are companies that have great products and great marketing.
How do you overcome this obstacle? David offers three suggestions, depending upon how much money you want to invest in marketing your small business:
- The No Cost Option. One absolutely free option is to simply be a conscientious consumer. Pay attention to the marketing that companies are doing to you by checking out billboards, actually reading promotional emails, and opening and studying sales letters you get in your mailbox. Then, take the pitches you like and adapt them to your business.
- The Small Cost Option. A second low-cost option is to buy a couple of books directed toward sales and marketing and read them. You don’t have to purchase a whole library of books to hone your skills, nor should you so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Instead, choose just a couple of books and decide on 2-3 tactics to implement and test. It is similar to how pro teams study the tapes of their competitors. Become a student of the game and you’ll increase your likelihood of a win.
- The Slightly More Money, but Less Work Option. If you don’t want to do your own legwork when it comes to figuring out marketing yourself, your other option is to hire professional marketing help to increase your number of clients and your profits. A number of clients seek out David for this purpose, thereby taking all of the work off their plate and letting them focus on the one thing they do best—running their small business.
Not Adequately Differentiating Yourself
Another common mistake that David sees with his clients is that they look, sound, and feel the same as their competition. In his book, he refers to it as the “same-o, lame-o stuff.” One way to overcome this is to do a careful and intentional competitive scan so that you know what you have to do to be different.
Here’s an exercise that he recommends to help with this: Create three columns on a sheet of paper. Under the first column, write “Do Nothing.” This is where you will list all of the things that will happen for your client if they do absolutely nothing about the problem that you could potentially help them solve.
Under the second column, write “Do-It-Yourself.” This column will contain the things that will happen if they tackle their problem without you. The third column is the “Hire Me/Us” column and this is where you will list all of the benefits of hiring you versus doing nothing or doing it themselves.
Doing this will help you recognize what you have to offer your clients and customers, making it easier to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Even if you never publish this chart, it clearly identifies your advantages, which bolsters your confidence when speaking to a client and helping them make the decision to choose you.
Underspending or Overspending on Marketing
The third mistake that David points out is that a large number of businesses underspend or overspend on marketing. For instance, there are those who try to operate the marketing of their business on a shoestring budget (think homemade business cards that you print yourself that have the ridges on them from separating the sheet). The problem with this is that it appears that you’re not taking your business seriously and you come across like an amateur, even if you’re not.
Of course, you can overspend too and buy a $1,000 stationary set, but this isn’t any better of an option as all it is likely to do is bolster your ego. If you’re trying to get new customers to walk into your door or sign up for your services, you need to find a happy medium.
In other words, you need to learn how to give your customer maximum bang for minimum bucks and one way to do this is by testing your marketing strategy. Are you getting the quality and quantity of leads you want from your current marketing efforts? If not, look at each one and figure out what is paying off and what isn’t. Make changes to the ones that aren’t as effective as you’d like for 90 days and, if they still aren’t working, cut them out and invest in other marketing ideas.
To learn more about some of the most common marketing mistakes and how to overcome them, you can purchase David’s book, Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition.
Are you ready to climb that mountain and embrace your success? I know I am.