Over the past few months I’ve been making an effort to put on paper mistakes I’ve made or seen made throughout my decade and a half in business and am ready to share that list with you! Now, be warned… It’s long. In fact, the list is well over 100 mistakes now so what I’ve decided to do was publish it in sections starting with Part 1, mistakes 1 through 25.
Of course, for each mistake I’ve added a brief description but it really doesn’t do it justice! There’s far more to explain for each mistake, but this file would end up being far too long so I did my best to keep it short and “to the point”!
I hope you enjoy it, and if you found it helpful please share with others who might benefit from the list!
To your success,
P.S. One quick thing, these mistakes are NOT in any particular order or importance, it’s just one big compilation of stuff NOT TO DO!
Marketing Mistakes Part 1
Mistake Number 1 – They stop marketing when times get tough.
One of the biggest blunders I see businesses make is failing to market when times are hard. When I hear owners tell me things like “I had to cut my marketing budget to save expenses” I fear the worst for that company. Listen, high tides raise all ships. What does that mean? It means when times are good, everyone prospers (to a certain extent!), but when times are tough, that’s when the true great business men and women are revealed. Like the great flood in the bible, tough times cleanse the market place of weaker players and only the strong survive. Business isn’t just about selling and profiting, it’s about planning for ALL economic conditions, so be sure to save and plan accordingly to allow sufficient marketing to take place all year long. Oh, and one last thing… When times get tough, focus in and strategize marketing methods that are low in cost, or even free yet highly effective and cash producing. Or better yet, design systems that allow you to only pay for profits. (Ask me how!)
Mistake Number 2 – They wait until they need money or sales to start marketing.
This one is closely related to the earlier point about stopping all marketing actions when the going gets tough, but different in the sense that many businesses simply don’t market at all and go about their day drifting along until finally they realize they are stuck, out of cash and close to closing their doors if they don’t get out there and market! Typically, these are the same people who turn down help from marketers along the way until they realize it’s too late.
Mistake Number 3 – They don’t test!
I remember once I got into a heated argument with the owner of a web design company that was doing some work for me way back before I had my own crew, and it was about the first image or “page” on a website, what he called the Hero Image, basically the first thing you see when you land on a website (Most refer to this as “above the fold”). I wanted to run a series of test with different images and style of Hero Image to see which pulled best. He was adamant that his “experience” has taught him which will work best and that testing wasn’t necessary. He kept arguing saying that testing this would be a waste because he simply knows what people like best. Here’s the thing, I wasn’t saying his wasn’t the best idea, I was simply saying that I’d rather let the numbers do the talking. People change, markets change, and what worked one day might not work any longer, but if there’s any way to find out, it’s with test. So what should you test? Over time, you should test EVERYTHING. Headlines, prices, ad locations, colors, wording (copy), size, images, etc. The list is endless, but always remember you can only test one variable at a time against your control otherwise you won’t be able to differentiate which test made the change.
Mistake Number 4 – They use poor headlines.
It’s been said that just as much time should be put into designing a great headline as into the entire rest of the ad. A strong headline contains many winning key words, grabs the reader’s attention, peaks their interest, increases their desire to keep reading and makes them stop what their doing and pay attention to YOU. Typically, I recommend brainstorming dozens of headline options and testing the ones you think will work best and going from there. Often, the headline that pulls best will surprise you.
Mistake Number 5 – They don’t optimize invoices.
Do you send out invoices to your clients? These are a great opportunity to offer them something free as a thank you, an add on service that they might be interested to, or even an endorsement to someone you have a joint venture profit sharing relationship with. Don’t let any time you have your clients or prospects attention go to waste! Put it to good use.
Mistake Number 6 – They don’t know or understand the value of a client over their life with you (Lifetime value)
The difference between an amateur and a professional business can be seen when asked if they know the lifetime value of their average client. Understanding this crucial number allows you the freedom and power of being willing to LOSE money on the front end knowing that over time, you’ll be miles ahead. Let’s say that after looking at your numbers, you’ve discovered that the average client remains active for 2 years and over those two years will spend $1000 with you. Of course, it’s always best to be extra conservative with these numbers. With that knowledge in hand, would you not be willing to spend X amount up front, say 100 bucks, on the client knowing that on the back end you’ll collect an average of $900? I’ve seen businesses offer their salespeople 100% commission off the first sale (significantly increasing the sales departments motivation to go out and get business) because they knew their numbers and knew they’d come out way ahead in the long run. When you know your numbers, you’ve got ultimate freedom of choice.
Mistake Number 7 – They email proposals.
Emailing a proposal should be avoided at all cost. Far too often, when someone wants you out of their office they’ll say something like “well, this sounds great, can you put together a proposal for me to look at and send it to me?” and that, my friends, is the Proposal Boot. Even if you feel like you’ve got the sale, there’s just far too much “cool down” time between the time you leave the office to the moment they receive that proposal and far too many things can go wrong or change. In a perfect world, you hand deliver the proposal. Now, keep in mind that you don’t want this to look too needy. Simply drop in, say you were in the area and had their proposal in your car and through you’d hand deliver it. That gives you an excellent opportunity to go over your power selling points and really seal the deal. Of course, in the event that a hand delivery is not possible, you still do not want to simply email it with a “here’s that proposal we talked about!” message. Instead, write your best email format ad with all your killer sales points and send it off. Oh, and of course don’t forget to follow up with a call or in person, for the love of God, don’t send another email a few days later asking if they’ve received it! That stinks of desperation.
Mistake Number 8 – They use normal business cards.
Remember when they used to say business cards are the holy grail and should be handed out non-stop? Well, that’s come and gone, times have changed and people are busier than ever. Nowadays, when someone hands me a business card I either put it in my phone if I feel it’s important, or toss it in a drawer that I’ll never look at again. What can you do instead? What can you do to make sure your card has a lasting impact? Make the card unique, something they might use, or something so neat they’ll keep on their desk and even show their friends. Business has changed, people are busy so give them something worth their time.
Mistake Number 9 – They aren’t optimizing receipts.
Do you have a drawer full of receipts? In addition to the small ones from retail stores that I never look at again, I’ve got folders packed with letter size receipts from business transactions that I’ll go over one last time as I file it or do my taxes. I’ll look just enough to see what it is, the totals, and where to put it. But what if among that black and white receipt was a gold sticker that read “New Specials Daily” with the URL? Or a big red stamp that read “Happy? Send us your friends!”, or anything you want. The point is, this is wasted space that with a bit of though and creativity could be turned into something useful.
Mistake Number 10 – They aren’t collecting as much info as possible at all times.
When I was just starting off, this was a piece of cake. I had a handful of clients and I got to know them all personally. I knew their full names, family members, favorite restaurants and vacation hot spots. But as time went on and my client base grew, it became increasingly difficult to keep track of everyone’s data. Regardless of how hard it is, it’s WORTH IT. I recommend checking out the Mackay 66 by Harvey Mackay for more info on this.
Mistake Number 11 – They are not systematizing they’re marketing.
One of the biggest challenges with marketing as a sole proprietor or small business is that when business gets going, we get so involved in the day to day operations that we stop doing the things that got us business in the first place. The key to building an empire is to systematize as many aspects of your business as possible, and that includes marketing. Create systems, teach your staff or hire an outside firm, but what ever you decide, DO IT! You can’t expect to grow and still remember to do everything yourself.
Mistake Number 12 – They are selling/competing on price.
I’ve already written a lot about pricing strategies, but let me say this: The problem with selling by price (i.e. being the lowest cost provider) is that you become really good at selling by price but when the time comes that someone sells lower than you – and that time always comes – you discover you’re really bad at selling any other way and you get crushed. There is ALWAYS someone willing to enter the market, sell at a loss and cut below your cost. Sure, you may know that there’s no way they can last, but some are foolish enough and have enough cash to either out last you, or take significant business away from you that it hurts really bad. For my total pricing strategies, EMAIL ME.
Mistake Number 13 – They are using display advertising.
Display advertising is what most businesses use day in and day out yet are some of the least effective types of ads that exist. Now, to be fair, YES, large brands with million-dollar ad budgets can get away with forking over 50 million on billboards across the country with a picture of their logo and nothing else, but for the average business this is a colossal mistake that can crush you. Instead, your ads should be a strategically crafted direct response ad that puts your prospects into a system that flows through your products and back end and brings to fruition the life time value of your clients. Put differently, your ads should create an action, they should get the ball rolling in your system, and they should be measurable.
Mistake Number 14 – They are using poor copy on social media.
Have you ever been to a funeral and had someone try and sell you life insurance? I sure hope not as it would be one of the most cringe worthy ideas ever. Yet, that’s exactly how your clients feel when all you ever do on social media is post ads, beg for likes and shares, and pitch your crap. Gary Vaynerchuk uses the term “jab jab jab right cross”, which means add value add value add value then ask for the sale. And to be honest, especially in today’s day and age, it should be more like jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab right cross. Point is, social media is a place to connect with friends (clients), not pitch non-stop. To be clear, YES, you can promote on social media, but that should be the end game, the final act, not the whole play. How can you tell if you’re pitching too much, i.e. selling life insurance at a funeral? Easy, how’s your activity? If you’ve got thousands of “likes” yet your average post has 10 “likes”, people aren’t engaged and not liking your stuff.
Mistake Number 15 – They think that branding ends at their website/business card/flyer.
The other day I drove by an establishment that had big sign out front that read “total residential and commercial renovations – We Do All”. Nothing wrong with that right? Well, here’s the thing… The property was a dump. The window shades were ripped, the lawn was in serious need of landscaping, the shingles were falling off, the steps were broken, you name it, it needed fixing. That is an example of bad branding. Listen, just because you have a beautiful website that matches your business card and flyers and billboard doesn’t mean you’re building a brand. Branding is the whole picture, branding is everything about you and your business. Like an employee of a green company who’s seen throwing a coffee cup out the window onto the ground and driving away, branding goes deep into the culture of your business and if you only work on the surface brand, you’ll never build a brand that stands the test of time.
Mistake Number 16 – They are not optimizing websites.
What’s the purpose of a brick and mortar shop? To make a profit right? Well, what’s the purpose of a digital business a.k.a a website? It should be to make a profit, or facilitate the process of making a profit. Yet so many websites are completely useless. Listen, just because you can have a website doesn’t mean you should. If you’re going to have a digital home, keep it clean, updated, and action oriented. We take special time and care to design sites that carry their own weight in gold.
Oh, and one other thing… Over the past few years everyone went crazy and was told they had to optimize their websites for mobile, which many did, but yet they STILL didn’t turn their sites into lead generating machines. What’s the point of spending money on optimizing your site for mobile if it still doesn’t bring in business? In fact, poorly optimized websites turn off prospects and hurt your business and brand.
Mistake Number 17 – They don’t understand the real need or desire of their market.
Surely you’ve heard the old cliché “when someone buys a drill they don’t want a drill, they want a hole”. Well, far too many businesses try and market and sell using features and completely forget about the benefits. For example, I used to run a fitness studio, and many competitors would promote “cleanest facility, new equipment, best coaches” or even “lose weight, get fit” yet the real reason people are looking to work out is to lose the double chin, to get rid of the belly fat, to tighten up the bat-wing arms or to lift and shape the butt. And I like to take it even further and really dig and find the hidden reasons, the real “WHY”, like “lose the belly fat so you can feel amazing naked” or “build a butt that turns heads”, etc. The point is, don’t sell the drill, sell the benefit, and discover the real reasons why, the real needs and desires and sell those! Like Dave Dee from GKIC says “When I used to market to magicians, I knew they didn’t want to be the next David Copperfield, they just wanted to prove to their family and friends they could make a living with magic”. Find the real need, and market to that.
Mistake Number 18 – They are not gathering testimonials and systematizing the process.
Typically, if you offer a good service or product, you’ll have gathered a few testimonials purely by accident. People we’re more than happy with you and wrote you a quick letter to acknowledge and thank you. But what if you put in a system that asked your clients for a testimonial immediately after successfully delivering your product or service, don’t you think you’d get a lot more? Absolutely. Don’t leave testimonial gathering to chance. Build system into your business that gather testimonials so that you’ve got hundreds and thousands of these. Nothing says social proof like pages of happy clients.
Mistake Number 19 – They don’t know their attrition rate.
Do you know your attrition rate? If you don’t, or don’t know what that is, you’re probably losing business out the back door without even knowing it or realizing how much it’s hurting you. The attrition rate is the number of clients you lose each month. For example, let’s say you have 100 clients, but you’re losing 10 clients a month, without doing anything your business is dropping 10% per month, even if inflation makes you feel like business is the same as usual. Now if you put in a few hours and bring in 10 new clients a month, you may feel (and think) your business is growing, but you’re actually only breaking even. Now, if you took the time to put systems in place to stop the leak, or let’s say cut it in half, in our example you’ve just added a 5% growth on a month by month basis, with little to no cost. You work very hard to bring those clients in, so make sure you pay attention and aren’t losing them out the back door. Oh, and don’t be so disillusioned to think you aren’t! EVERY business has attrition, but for some it’s a tiny leak, for others it’s a massive hole that’s going to sink the boat.
Mistake Number 20 – They don’t have an exit survey.
Many businesses know what an exit survey is when it comes to employees leaving the business, but what about clients who leave? If a client makes a decision to stop doing business with you, wouldn’t it be useful to know why? Heck, maybe you, or your staff, service or product did something without even realizing it that’s turning people off, wouldn’t that be useful to know? Sometimes something completely unintentional pushes a client away, yet had you been made aware of it you would have had the opportunity to fix it and save that client and any future clients it would have affected. Don’t be scared, all feedback is important.
Mistake Number 21 – They are failing to see value in non-converted leads.
Here’s a touchy one that takes a mature business person to realize it’s value. Have you ever brought in leads that didn’t convert? Of course you have, we all have. But if someone has taken the time to call o write to you, they obviously had some interest in what you offer, but, for what ever reason, you couldn’t serve their need and they didn’t buy. That doesn’t mean they are no longer interested, it might just mean they are no longer interested in YOU. Instead of thinking you’ll eventually wear them down and make them buy, or saying “screw them!”, why not team up with a similar business as yours and sell them the lead? Or create a joint venture and send them that way? I know what you’re thinking… “Send my clients to the competition? Are you crazy?” No, not crazy, but I listen to the numbers, and I’ve seen businesses make just as much taking a commission off unsold leads sent to the competition as they make in their own business! Remember, if they didn’t buy, you can sit and hope they one day buy, or realize they are still an asset that can be brought to fruition through unorthodox methods.
Mistake Number 22 – They are not following up enough.
Here’s one that bites me because we all do it sometimes, but far too many make a seriously bad habit of it. Have you ever seen an ad and though to yourself “when I get home, to the office, off the road, etc., I’m going to check this out and maybe buy it”? Then, life got in the way, one thing leads to another, and you forgot and never checked it out. BUT, had someone from that company sent you another ad and followed up with you, you would have been more than happy to buy. This happens all the time. It’s been said that there’s always 3% of the market looking to buy RIGHT NOW, and had you just followed up, you could have landed the sale. Make it a point in your business to set up automatic follow up systems until. For how long you ask? Until.
Mistake Number 23 – They are not calling after a mailer.
This one is obviously closely associated to the above mistake, but I want to reinforce it very specifically. If you send out a mailer of any kind, whether it’s a flyer, postcard, ad, email, etc. it’s essential that you follow up that mailer with a PHONE CALL. Not immediately, but a day or two after. Studies have show massive increases in sales when a phone call follow up is performed after a mailing. And if you’re a small business sending small mailings, this is especially easy.
Mistake Number 24 – They make doing business with them a total pain in the ass.
IF you’ve read my blog post You’re Killing The Buyers, than you know how I feel about this and my personal experience. Far too many businesses, usually unintentionally, are making the buying experience a real pain in the butt. Take a good, hard look at every step, every contact point that your prospects go through and make sure they are super friendly and EASY. I strongly recommend auditing your business, ideally using someone that know one knows (Ask about our secret shoppers!) and have them go through the buying experience and analyze the pain points. Something as simple as a cranky receptionist can really hurt a business.
Mistake Number 25 – Failing to remain top of mind
Have you ever thought to yourself, just randomly, “hey I should lose a few pounds, maybe I’ll go check out that kickboxing place I keep seeing everywhere”? What made you think of one place over another? Usually, your brain remembers what it sees the most and what, over time, has caught your attention the most. No matter what business you’re in, you should be staying in front of your prospects in some way all the time so that when they decide it’s time, you’re who they think of. Listen, every day someone decides they want what you offer, but if you aren’t who’s at the top of their mind, or the last person they thought of and saw, you lose.
Our Seed Marketing courses teach businesses to plant multiple “seeds” into the minds of their prospects keeping them at the top of their minds until they’re ready to buy. You should have a team on the ground in front of your prospects marketing non-stop and at every chance you get.
END OF PART 1 – Part 2 coming soon!