I usually write about online marketing on this blog, but for a change I thought I’d address some of the wider issues of marketing as a whole.
In this two-part blog series, I’m going to discuss 10 classic marketing mistakes often made by small businesses.
1. An untargeted approach
One of the biggest marketing mistakes is not really knowing who you’re trying to sell to. Too many businesses get wrapped up in the details of their product or service and do not spend enough time defining which group of prospective customers is likely to want to buy them.
Unless you have a marketing budget the size of Coca Cola’s, you will not be able to sell your products and services to everyone. Much better to choose a niche market that has the desire and the budget for what you’re offering.
2. Relying on advertising
Advertising is expensive and usually ineffective unless you’re sustaining a high profile campaign where your brand will receive repeated exposure. There are other ways of gaining the exposure without spending money on expensive TV or print ads. PR, for example, is a way of generating free editorial about your business: in order to generate it, you need to become the first source of information about your industry. Run workshops, seminars and webinars in your area of expertise, and provide the press with free advice articles for them to publish in your name. And, of course, update your blog with quality content to demonstrate your industry knowledge.
3. Relentlessly pursuing the hard sell
Nothing will alienate prospects faster than the hard sell. Building relationships is what will generate clients for your business. Nobody likes being sold to and your prospects will simply switch off when you start broadcasting to them. Instead, offer them the benefit of your expertise, and sell to them by helping them rather than by advertising to them.
4. Poor communication
If a prospect has taken the trouble to contact you with an enquiry about your service, respond promptly and professionally. Don’t be hard to get hold of – this will come across as arrogant. If you can’t be in the office to answer every phone call, hire a VA or an answering service – it’s worth every penny.
When you send emails to prospects, make sure they’re personalised and addressed directly to the recipient – and again, make sure you contact them promptly. Sounds obvious, I know, but I’ve been addressed as “Hi there” in emails that have arrived two weeks after I’ve made an enquiry with a potential supplier, and trust me, it’s less than impressive.
5. Not gaining the prospect’s trust
People like to ‘try before they buy’ – especially if they don’t know you and don’t have any reason to trust you. This is easy when you sell products in a shop, but can be more difficult when you sell a service. Think about what you can offer in lieu of a physical demonstration, such as a free consultation, a free e-book, or a free ticket to an event you’re running. Note the word ‘free’: it’s very important! For example, we offer free blog writing and SEO copywriting samples so that prospects can see the quality of our work for themselves.