It’s a fact that business these days is more competitive than it’s ever been. To stay alive, you can’t just offer a quality product at a fair price. You have to know how to market effectively. And, as you know, marketing goes hand in hand with advertising.
Unfortunately, most business owners have no idea of how to get the most out of every marketing dollar they spend. You should demand that you get the best possible results from every cent you drop into marketing! Most companies spend more time planning their company Christmas party than they do creating powerful, persuasive, marketing communications.
Now this can stop. Here are the 10 most common marketing mistakes and how you can avoid them.
These marketing mistakes aren’t confined to a single industry. These are mistakes that I’ve found across the board.
If one or two of these mistakes don’t apply to you, then congratulate yourself! You’re already on the road to marketing success!
Most Common Marketing Mistake #1: You don’t focus your business on the needs of your prospects and customers.
Does this seem too obvious? Look through the yellow pages. Pick them up right now and glance through them. Answer this question: Are most of the ads telling you what benefits you get if you become a customer? Or are the ads telling you about the companies, where they are, how wonderful they are, what they do, how great their quality is, how great their service is, and all about them? 95% of the ads are totally focused on the business and not on what the business can do for YOU, the prospect!
Most Common Marketing Mistake #2: You Fail To Determine Specifically Who Your Market Is And What Their Wants And Needs Are.
Ninety percent of the businesses out there never precisely determine who their market is, and what the desires, needs, wants, and passions of the prospects in that market are.
This is a grave mistake.
The successful marketer can tell you precisely who he’s marketing to, and what they want in a product or service. He can tell you his best prospect’s approximate age, location, education level, income level and other critical information. You must know the who first, and then you can focus on the why.
Why do your customers buy from you? What do your customers want or need most in the products or services you offer? Remember, you need to focus on discovering what the “why” is so that you can focus your marketing efforts on showing your prospects that you can meet the “why” in the most satisfactory fashion.
Think about it…. how can you expect to adequately fill someone’s needs if you never take the time to understand them? It’s simple, yet few companies ever bother to work at meeting their customers’ needs.
Companies that are successful with their marketing understand their customers’ needs and attempt to satisfy those needs better than the competition.
If you want to own your market, find out what your customers really want. Discover their desires. Search out their passions and needs. Once you have this information, you will be armed to corner your market.
Most Common Marketing Mistake #3: You Fail To Capture Your Customers & Prospects Names And Addresses.
Of all the terrible marketing mistakes made, I feel that this one has caused companies to lose the MOST money. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars every month.
Why a company would spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to get a customer in the door and then let them walk out without getting their name and address and other vital information from them is beyond me!
I can’t understand it, but 90% of the businesses in Australia don’t ever bother to keep track of their loyal customers, let alone any prospects!
Your mailing list, or customer database, is your biggest source of lifetime profits!
Here’s why you should keep track of every customer and every prospect:
1. According to Fortune Magazine, it costs five times as much to generate a new customer than to resell to an existing customer. Existing customers are almost as good as money in the bank!
2. Your existing customers already know and trust you. They bought from you and (hopefully) had a positive experience with you.
3. They know you’ll deliver on your promises, because you’ve done it before with energy and promptness (haven’t you?).
All you need to do is develop a systematic way of keeping track of them, and then ask them to buy from you more often. By establishing a long term relationship with your customers and prospects, you can maximise your business success. Especially if your products or services help solve your customers’ problems.
Do you see how valuable this list can be? When I consult with a business on how to increase their sales, one of the first things I ask is if they have a customer list. If they do, then I can practically guarantee that they can build their business successfully in just a few short weeks.
To make this list profitable, recent studies show that you should contact them once every 21 days. That’s fairly frequently. I’d suggest at least once a month.
Here are some ideas for staying in touch:
1. Sponsor some kind of information-based event. A workshop, seminar, luncheon with a guest speaker, etc. Anything that would be of interest to your customers and prospects.
2. Send a postcard announcing a “private sale” with special discounts or added services exclusively for your customers.
3. If you work with businesses, send them information that will help them become more successful along with a personal note… “I thought you might benefit from this.”
4. Send a postcard with problem-solving tips on it for easy, quick reference.
By collecting the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your customers and prospects, you will be in a position to increase the profits earned from each customer anywhere from 35 – 200%.
Most Common Marketing Mistake #4: You Don’t Try To Sell Your Customers Something Else On The “Back-End.”
Your hottest prospect is someone that has just bought from you. This is your best opportunity for another immediate sell. The key to successfully doing this is having products that offer solutions to problems that your prospects have. Related problems and solutions to those problems mean increased opportunity for sales.
How simple it would be for the cashiers at the local discount store to suggest another product that may help solve the customer’s problem. All they have to do is notice how the products that the customer is currently buying are related, and be knowledgeable enough about what the store has to offer to be able to suggest another product that could help solve the customer’s problem.
The buyer that just bought from you offers a prime opportunity to sell again. Your products must be good, however, and you must prove to him that your “back-end” product will also help solve his problem.
Again, we are talking about knowing your prospects’ wants and desires. Your job isn’t over once you’ve sold your customer his first product. You and your employees should constantly be striving to find out what problems your prospects have and then proposing the appropriate solutions to those problems.
If you are focusing on what your customer wants and are offering him a solution to a related problem, he will not be resistant to you as you try to “up-sell” him. He will be grateful for your desire to help solve his problems.
Just remember: your customers are never hotter than when they first buy. Immediately acknowledge their first purchase and tell them how appreciative you are. Then, offer them something else so they’ll have the chance to solve more of their problems and to spend even more money with you!
You should look for logical product or service extensions to offer your customers. Using the back-end will turn one-shot sales into repeat customers. Ironically, most businesses rarely try to sell their current or previous customers anything again. You should do it constantly.
Most Common Marketing Mistake #5: You Fail To Make Doing Business With You Convenient, Easy, Appealing, And You’re Not Ready To Sell When Your Prospects Are Ready To Buy.
Most businesses almost make it difficult for a prospect or customer to buy from them. Most businesses do business from 9 to 5. This is a mistake.
You must be prepared to do business when the prospect is ready to do business. With the technologies that are now available, there’s no excuse for a business not to have a 24-hour phone service centre. Even a simple answering machine can work wonders if utilized as a marketing tool.
You must be fanatical about servicing your customers and having a positive impact on your prospects. You must focus on their needs consistently. Think of how you want to be treated when you do business with someone.
I mean really think about how you’d like to be treated. Then treat your customers that way.
Most businesses never “walk a mile in their prospects shoes.” Why else would they make doing business with them so difficult?
If someone walks into your store, how well versed are your sales people? How much time have you spent in preparing dialogs, questions and advice for your people to ask or offer to customers?
If someone calls your company and your receptionist is their first contact, can your receptionist make a motivating, compelling response to the customer or prospect’s requests?
How willing are you or your employees to answer questions and give truly informative advice, even if it sometimes may not directly result in an immediate sale?
How easy is it for your customers to find things in your store?
How well do you keep customers updated on the status of their orders or back orders?
These are questions that you must answer on a regular basis so that you can understand what flaws your prospects and customers see every time they do business with you.
By making it easy, appealing, and convenient to do business with you, you will attract more customers, and more customers will consistently return to your business.
Most Common Marketing Mistake #6: You Are Not Persistent And Willing To “Stick It Out” Until You’ve Contacted Your Prospect Enough Times To Warrant Dropping Him — Constantly Testing And Trying New Approaches Until You Find The Hot Button That Sells.
Too many businesses rely entirely too much on the hoped success of one advertisement or one direct mailing. Marketing success is not an event… it is a process. Processes take time. Therefore, you should never put your faith in one ad, one mailing campaign, or one television spot.
You must commit to connecting with your prospects a minimum of 7 times in 18 months. If you are not willing to pay that price, then you shouldn’t even start to promote to those prospects.
You need to decide that you are willing to connect with your prospects time and time again and hit them with the same benefit packed points over and over again — from every conceivable angle — in a determined attempt to motivate your prospects to take action!
Remember that any single marketing event will not ordinarily produce outstanding results, not now a days anyway. It used to be true that a guy could make a fortune off of one ad, one promotion. But today, it’s just not going to happen very often.
You must know precisely who you are marketing to, what their desires are, and you must resolve to connect with them again and again and again, until they either prove that they are not good prospects, or until they see that you have the best solution for their pressing problems, and they buy.
Marketing requires persistency to say the least. You must work at it on a daily basis. Some days will be downright discouraging for you. But, you cannot give up. If you have done your homework, and you realise that you have the solution to your prospects’ problems, if you have focused precisely on your target, then you must not let discouragement get in your way.
It can keep you from succeeding.
If your prospects are not responding, then you need to refine your approach. You need to refine who you are trying to connect with. You may need to approach them from several different angles to find the approach that works the best…. you will need to test constantly, always trying to improve your “take.”
In short, you must persist so that your prospects never have the opportunity to forget who you are and what you can do for them.
The only way to discover your prospects’ hot buttons are to test — and test continually. You see, you can’t know what your target market wants, what the best price is, what the best selling package is, or what the best approach is until you test.
As a marketer, you have the obligation to find out from your market what it is they want. The way to find out what they want is to test one marketing approach against another, one ad concept against another, one headline against another, one television or radio commercial against another, one price against another, and the list goes on and on!
The point is this: you cannot guess what your market will buy. It is something you must discover by testing one approach against another, and by carefully analysing and tabulating the results. Once you do this, you will be amazed that one approach always substantially out-pulls all the others by a tremendous margin.
You must demand maximum return from every marketing dollar you spend. Testing is what tells you where to spend your marketing dollars. Remember, an ad costs you the same amount of space, production time, or air time whether it produces 10 prospects, 100 prospects or 1,000 prospects. It only makes sense that you should test different ad approaches to maximize your investment.
Testing takes persistence, but it will pay off big if you do it.
As I mentioned earlier, marketing is NEVER an event, it is always a process. Keep this in mind when you consider selling something to your market.
Most Common Marketing Mistake #7: You Have No Marketing Plan To Guide Your Business To Financial Success.
On a number of occasions, I consult with businesses and discover the scary fact that 90% are flying by the seat of their pants, with no direction for tomorrow, no idea how much they’re going to make in the next 365 days, and no written plan whatsoever. Let me say this as strongly as I can….
Your business will never succeed on a large scale basis
unless you commit to writing a plan that guides you to success.
This is a fact that all too many businesses will never accept, to their own demise. If you don’t have a marketing plan, you’ll never reach any truly substantial objectives.
If you’re without a plan right now, grab a piece of paper and a pencil and let me help you get off to a good start. Your plan must include the following:
1) A specific, clear, precise dollar objective for each year for each of your products or services.
2) A specific dollar amount for each month for each of your products or services.
3) An objective evaluation of all of the different marketing alternatives that will help you reach your monthly and yearly goals.
4) An exact indication of which marketing alternatives you have decided to use, in what ways, and how often, and how much these alternatives will cost you in money, time and materials.
5) Techniques to use that will help you keep track of your customers and prospects.
6) Techniques to use to help you sell the “back-end” to a new customer.
These are the bare-bones-basics that you need in your plan. With this information alone, you’ll probably perform head and shoulders above your competition.
If you want to take the plan further, make sure you include precise deadlines for each step. Then take each of these steps and break them down into action steps that you can take on a daily basis to reach your monthly and yearly goals.
It’s not a difficult thing to do. I think the problem is that most companies feel like they have to have graphs and charts and demographic specifications and all of this other mumbo-jumbo in their marketing plan. That just confuses people!
That stuff is NOT going to motivate you or help you follow a path to success. Realise the power of this simple, easy to do marketing plan. It’s so easy! And it will bring you success!
Without a specific marketing plan ON PAPER, you cannot expect your business to have massive successes. Yes, you do need to put it on paper.
On paper you have focus. If you keep your ideas in your mind, you’ll lose focus on your objectives. Believe me, I know. I’ve made that mistake before. Put your plan on paper.
Just because it’s on paper doesn’t mean you can’t change it. Be flexible. Understand that as your business grows and succeeds, you’ll want to update your marketing plan.
I re-evaluate my plan on a weekly basis. I ask myself:
a) Is this plan taking me where I want to go?
b) Is there any part of the plan that isn’t focused on the desired end objective?
c) What can I do to update my plan to gain more focus on my end objective?
Questions like these on a weekly basis will help you reach your objectives more quickly and smoothly.
Most Common Marketing Mistake #8: You Don’t Have Any Idea How to Write or Produce Persuasive Marketing Materials that Get Your Prospects to Buy NOW, or that Get Your Customers to Buy Again.
If your car was having a problem, and you knew NOTHING about cars (except where to put the gas in), would you open the hood and try to fix it? NO!
Why then do so many businesses try to write their own advertisements, their own brochures, their own flyers and other marketing communications when they don’t know how to do it?
It doesn’t make sense. If you don’t know what you are doing then you shouldn’t be doing it. You might mess things up worse than they were before!
The real problem comes, however, when someone thinks they know what they’re doing when in fact, their efforts are usually self-centred and not focused on the needs and wants of their prospects and customers.
Larger companies have entire design and marketing departments that do nothing but develop and put together their marketing materials. Though, in my opinion, most do terrible, institutional advertising… I feel that everyone can always learn more about how to communicate better with their prospects in a marketing document.
Most marketing documents:
1. Focus on the seller instead of the buyer and the benefits that the buyer gets.
2. Are terribly boring, dull, and uninteresting. (Usually because the company is saying how great they are.)
3. Don’t excite the prospect to want to take action NOW!
4. Don’t ask for any action from the prospect.
5. Don’t tell the prospect “what’s in it for him” if he acts right away.
6. Assume that the prospect is as interested in the product or service as the seller is.
7. Brag on and on about product and service features, when all the prospect really cares about is the benefits he’ll get from the product or service.
8. Try to be creative and clever, thinking that “clever sells” when actually clever does nothing to motivate a prospect to buy NOW, and that should be the main purpose of any marketing piece.
9. Try to be “professional” and worry about their image. When really, the only thing that matters is relentlessly focusing on your prospects desires. You must focus on the benefits that your prospect is wanting you to tell him about. You need to worry about delivering on your promises, improving your product or service… and forget about the “professional” image.
These are just a few of the problems that you see every day when you look at the typical marketing communications that are going on.
It’s terrible. It’s a waste of paper, money, time, energy and other valuable resources. Don’t fall prey to this game. Find yourself a professional copywriter and advertising designer that can deliver what your prospects wants. Or, become a student of direct response advertising and copywriting.
Most Common Marketing Mistake #9: You Don’t Tell Your Prospects What It Is About You That Should Make Them Want To Buy From You Instead Of Someone Else. (Establishing Your USP.)
What advantage is there for your prospects or customers to do business with you? What makes you unique? Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the distinguishing advantage you hold out in all of your marketing, advertising and sales efforts. It’s something that a customer usually can’t get anywhere else.
It’s the foundation of your business, and you should make it a part of everything you do. What your USP should say depends on the specific market niche you have already carved, or wish to carve out. Your USP may be that you only sell the highest grade products in the industry.
· Your USP may be that you sell your products at the lowest mark-up in the industry.
· Your USP may be that you maintain 24-hour, 7-days-a-week service for your customers.
· Your USP may be that you maintain five times more service personnel than anyone else in your industry, so you can respond in three hours instead of three days.
· Your USP may be that you provide more information, education, and service than anyone else.
· Your USP may be that you have everything in stock at all times — no out-of-stock, waiting, or back orders.
Most companies are “me-too” companies. They develop nothing that makes them different, and nothing that creates a desire in the prospect to have that special uniqueness.
Too many companies are just out there to sell. You need to commit to becoming a company that’s dedicated to solving your customers’ problems.
Perhaps that could be your USP! Your unique selling proposition can carve you out a market so quick you won’t believe it! So figure out what your USP is and start promoting its benefits to your customers and prospects today!
Most Common Marketing Mistake #10: You don’t change. Once You Understand The Mistakes In This Letter, You Still Go Back To Doing Your Business And Marketing The Same Old, Unprofitable Way.
Change is difficult. Change can be tough. When you try to be different, do things differently, or make waves, people get uncomfortable. Undoubtedly, some of the ideas in this newsletter will warrant a change or two in your business.
It will not only mean a heck-of-a-lot more money to you, it will also mean more satisfaction in knowing that you are running a business that is focused on the customer, a company that wants to serve its customers.
After you’ve read these ideas, pick out JUST ONE that you need to work on the most. Focus your energy on changing just one at a time. Put up notes. Re-read the section your focusing on over and over again. Call me to ask for further advice. Whatever you do: decide to make the changes that’ll make your business better.
Once you think you’ve got the first change down, determine your next step. Decide what you want to change next. Focus on it and change.
Create a 30 day plan, working back from day 30 to day one, do one thing every day to bring you closer to your goal. Miraculously this system works brilliantly if you’re busy and find it difficult to implement.
The toughest thing about change is when it involves other people. They’re in a comfort zone that they’ve gotten used to. Now you come along and suggest change. Motivating your employees to change will be the toughest part.
But don’t give up. Be strong. Be the example of a successful marketer. With or without your employees, you can make your business a success.