Here is part TWO of the 4 part series called “Al’s big list of business and marketing mistakes”. If you missed part 1, mistakes 1 to 25, you can read them all HERE. Now that post received a lot of praise, but here’s two quick comments that came up that I thought I should clarify…
1 – Yes, 1 out of every say 5 is common sense. In fact, most things in business are common sense – yet most don’t do them. Often, we need to be reminded more than taught, and at the end of the day if you aren’t doing it, you don’t really know it. Heck in almost all ares of life there are many things that are common sense, things we know we should do, that we simply don’t, or forget, or just simply don’t think of in the moment.
2 – Yes, it’s a lot of work. Yes there’s so much to do. Yes it can be overwhelming. Yes there’s a lot of areas where mistakes can happen making the whole thing a very insecure process. And YES, it’s WORTH IT. You’ve really got two options, do it all yourself, or get someone to do it for you – and in my 15 years of business, if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that unless you absolutely have to do it yourself, you should delegate it to someone who can do it as good, or often better, than yourself. Now, if you’d like to sit down and go over your business and really evaluate what your potential is, and how we can streamline many of these things for you, feel free to email me HERE.
One last thing before we jump into this big list of perfectly spelled and grammatically correct business and marketing mistakes…
It’s always been my belief – and experience – that it’s easier to build a business quickly then it is to do it slowly. Action and momentum has a funny way of compounding on itself and driving more action and more momentum and opportunities. I’ve found that’s it’s better to be overwhelmed with activity and opportunity then it is to be sitting around twirling your thumbs waiting for the phone to ring. So go nuts, hustle hard, and give it all you’ve got.
I hope you enjoy the next part of this list,
To your success,
P.S.: Like the list? Share the love with your friends by sharing it on Facebook 🙂
Marketing Mistakes Part 2
Mistake Number 26 – They are mailing a standalone flyer/catalogue.
Would you ever walk into someone’s office, slam your catalogue or flyer onto the owners’ desk and walk out without saying a word? Because that’s exactly what you do every time you send a catalogue without some form of letter attached to it. When mailing something, you aren’t there to sell it, to pitch it, to explain it, so PUT IT IN WRITING! Now, let me stop you right there. Just like you wouldn’t walk in and not say a word, you also wouldn’t walk in and talk their ears off with useless babble. Make sure that your copy is important to them and adds value. Copywriting is NOT something that should be written by the seat of your pants. If you aren’t a killer copywriter, invest in someone (Like ME!) to do it for you. It’s worth it.
Mistake Number 27 – They don’t have a strategy and are driving blind.
This one would be a very long conversation, and you can read more about it HERE, but essentially a solid marketing strategy is the difference between mediocrity and millions. If you’re running an ad, making a call, sending an email, or doing ANYTHING with a solid strategy, you’re not building an empire, you’re just throwing money out the window. This single mistake is the leading cause of failure in businesses. It’s what causes entrepreneurs to bounce from one marketing act to another with minimal and probably diminishing results and conclude that marketing doesn’t work. It would be like a lumberjack taking one single strike at a tree with an axe then going to find another tree and whacking it, then going to another and taking a chop, then moving on to another, etc. until finally he slams his axe down and proclaims that axe’s can’t cut trees! Business has the potential to be the best experience of your life, or the absolute worst – it all depends on how you plan it.
Mistake Number 28 – They are not using the “dream 100” strategy.
I first heard of this from the late Chet Holmes, but it’s since been popularized and spread around by many business leaders because of it’s great power. The dream 100 is about picking the top 100 businesses that you want to have as clients, or if you’re in a B2C market, the best neighborhood, and hitting just those in that 100 or neighborhood over and over again. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in, there’s always a percentage of the market that are ideal clients. Identify those ideal clients or neighborhoods and go after those only. Here’s the kicker, because you’re targeting a smaller number of prospects your marketing cost will actually go down, it’s effectiveness will go up and your prospects will start to think you must be really doing good to market to “everyone” that much (they won’t realize it’s going just to them).
Mistake Number 29 – They are using ineffective media methods
One of my biggest pet peeves is media salespeople who call themselves marketing experts. Typically, these folks know very little about marketing. All they know are the statistics their station gets, and how to make sure you buy. They are salespeople, not marketers. Now, to be fair (and clear) there is nothing wrong with using media such as radio, television, newspapers, etc., but they need to be used wisely! Far too many people get sold on buying a nice big fancy media spot, throw together some catchy sayings, write a big fat check that nets the “marketing expert” i.e. media salesperson, a nice commission, and sit back and wait for the phone to ring. Typically, very little actually happens. Sure, your clients, friends and family members will tell you things like “hey I saw your ad I loved it good job!” but that’s a high price to pay for a compliment. What you want are new leads by the thousands, not a handful of friends.
Mistake Number 30 – They aren’t including links everywhere
This mistake has two sides… First, have you ever seen an ad and thought to yourself, jeez I should check that out, only to realize they don’t have a website listed on the ad? Sure, they may have a phone number, but come on, this is the modern era! You’d be surprised at how many prospects you turn off forcing them to use the phone. People like the simplicity of checking you out online first without commitment or pressure, so give them what they want. Second, when I was first building my business I had read every book I could find on SEO (search engine optimization) and read all these neat little tricks to get my website listed on the first page of search engines but, even after having done just about everything, it had little impact. So what did I do? I figured search engines rate on popularity, so I started by linking my own pages all over my website, then I headed to the forums and made accounts everywhere with my website in my signature, then I started posting on blogs and linking everywhere I possibly could. Heck, I added my business in directories all over the web, even if not a single person would ever visit, hoping it would help make the search engines think I was important because, well, I was everywhere. Lo and behold, it worked! Within a couple weeks not only was I landing on the first page for my keywords, I was landing in the top 5. Moral of the story? Add you link any place you can. Oh, one last thing to beware of… You don’t want to be a scammer…but there are ways around this. For example, I knew that posting self-promoting stuff in forums was a not welcome, frowned upon and a good way to get banned, but you can always act dumb and get away with a lot! I’d write a post in forums something like this “Hello, my name is Al, I’m very new at this and just made my first website for my new company, what do you guy’s think? I’m looking for honest feedback, I have no clue where to start and am looking for some direction. Thank you very much in advance, it’s very appreciated.” Sure, the odd person would call me out on it, but the funny thing is many would actually defend my post saying hey he’s just a newbie looking for help! Regardless, after those few weeks of work, I was at the top of the search engines and business was flowing!
Mistake Number 31 – They aren’t telling prospects/clients what to do next in a clear and concise fashion
I don’t know if this applies to everyone, but for me personally when I’m buying something, from a product or service, I want someone to hold my hand and walk me through the buying process until the end. There’s nothing I dislike more than going somewhere with the sole intent of making a purchase, and I have to jump through hoops just to give them my money. Every step of your funnel should be clear, from your advertisement telling the prospects exactly what to do next (i.e. visit a link, send an email, make a phone call, etc.) to directions at the point of purchase, delivery of the goods, etc. If you want them to go stand somewhere specific, tell them, lead them. If you need them to click somewhere, show them. If you want them to send a referral, ask them. If you want them to post a review, show them where and tell them how. The point is, if you want an action from your prospect, make it very clear what they need to do and how to do it.
Mistake Number 32 – They aren’t hand-delivering flyers
Have you ever gotten a flyer in the mail and thrown it directly into the trash without even looking at it? We all have, and we all do very often. Which is why I completely stopped running mass mailers via flyer format. Instead, for a slightly higher initial cost, I get my flyers HAND DELIVERED to homes in my best buyer neighborhoods. That’s right, I hire high school students to go door to door and put flyers in the mailboxes, between the screen doors or tucked in the doorknob. But here’s the key, these flyers can ONLY be delivered during the evenings. Typically, between 5-7pm. Why? Because by that time most folks have already come home from work, they’ve thrown out all the junk mail from the days’ mail, and are now winding down for dinner. But when they hear the mailbox clink shut, or see you stick a flyer in the door, they’re compelled to get up and go see what it is and usually give it more attention than any other piece of advertising they received in the regular mail. Be very clear to your delivery people that you will be calling the homes on their delivery root to check up that the flyers were indeed delivered. I never actually did call, because I knew based on my leads that they were being handed out, but it’s important for them to think you are actually checking up to keep them from just taking them and trashing them all. Of course, this method DOES cost quite a bit more, but I’ve found it to be highly effective and well worth the added cost.
Mistake Number 33 – They aren’t integrating all aspects of their business together.
Have you ever received a flyer for a window washing service, but when you visited the website it was trying to sell you door installations so you tried calling and the receptionist answered “John’s Plumbing”? You’d be surprised, but stranger things have happened. You need to make sure that your business is well tied together. You don’t want lose ends everywhere, branding that doesn’t match across the board, friendly front end staff and real jerks for installers, professional salespeople and crummy customer service, clean website and filthy store front, etc. You get the picture. The message you want to send should be the same throughout your business.
Mistake Number 34 – They don’t know how to close the sale/ask for the sale.
There has been more than one occasion where I’ve walked into a motorcycle dealership and when asked if I needed a hand, I answered with “just browsing” yet deep inside I wanted to scream “sell me a damn bike!!!”. A few minutes goes by and I ask a question about something, and I get a cold answer and that’s it. Or worst, they get into sales mode and start telling me all the features and all the good stuff, and I start to get really excited and really craving it and I’m just dying to have them show me HOW I CAN TAKE IT HOME, but when it comes down to it, they never ask for the sale. They never go into the close. They never take my money. Listen, everyone’s going to give you objections, it’s the natural process, and if they are still standing in front of you after they’ve given the objection it means they are waiting for you to show them how you can make that purchase possible. It is essential that you always ask for the sale. There are a ton of great sales training courses out there, but if you really want to keep it simple then after you’ve answered all their objections and gone over the product several times and don’t have a whole lot more to say, look them straight in the eye and say “So, do you want to buy one?”. Of course, this is by far the LEAST classy close in the book, but you’d be surprised how many people will buy just because you asked them to. Stop letting your prospects walk out that front door disappointed and get your sales team trained – or for heavens sake, just ask if they want to buy one!
Mistake Number 35 – They are sending out mailers that land in C pile.
I’ll assume that most of us all sort our mail directly over a trash can, and typically only keep 2 types of mail: mail that appears personal, mail that appears important, and mail that’s junk – which goes straight into the trash can. Mail that appears important is usually bills, invoices, etc., and personal mail is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re running any kind of mailers, I strongly suggest you avoid the typical junk mail stuff and try and land in the personal pile. There’s entire books filled with this topic alone, and I won’t even attempt to do it justice, but here’s two quick things. First, it’s really not that complicated to make your mail look personal. Use plain, white envelopes, even odd size if you want (like a wedding invitation), if possible have your staff hand write the addresses on it, use your name instead of company name as the return address, use peel and stick stamps instead of automated stamps, etc. One thing I did that seemed to work well was I got a red stamp done up that said “do not bend” and I stamped each envelope before I mailed them. But knowing this would look “automated” and not customized, I took it one step further… Before lifting the stamp off the envelope, I’d smudge it downward slightly making it very obvious that this was done by hand and not machine printed on. The second piece of advice I have is to use postcards instead. I’ve had great success with these because the recipient gets to read your message right away without having to open the envelope, but I used the same ideas as above, I hand stamped them and I hand wrote the message (okay I had staff hand write everything, my writing is brutal!). Now, IF you decide to run a flyer in the mail, you better make certain that it PULLS! Test smaller batches, make sure you have a code to track the results, and use the one that pulls best.
Mistake Number 36 – They aren’t optimizing the display of testimonials.
Many times I’ll start working with a company and notice they don’t’ have any testimonials and bring it up in our meeting and they’ll say oh we do and take me down the hall way in a back room where they are stored deep on the bottom shelf, or head to the 25th page on their website way at the bottom where they’ve got them all posted. This is a big no-no! In a physical location, your testimonials should be proudly – but professionally – displayed where prospects first come into your business, where they spend time waiting and browsing, and basically anywhere their eyes might wander. On a website, they should be right on the main page and cleanly displayed everywhere that they may end up looking. Social proof, i.e. testimonials, are powerful, so why on earth would you hide them?
Mistake Number 37 – They are using too many words in roadside signage.
For starters, most folks don’t even have their eyes on the road anymore, but assuming they are actually looking out their windows and not their phones, how on earth do you expect them to read a 500-word essay from 500 feet away flying by at 50 miles an hour? If you’re using signage, you should limit the amount of words to as few as possible, even just a handful, matched with a killer graphic, and website in the corner, and that’s IT!
Mistake Number 38 – The don’t understand pricing strategy.
Earlier I touched on the danger of competing on price, but that’s not the only mistake people make when it comes to pricing strategy, it’s just the most common. There are many theories and strategies around pricing, but here are some of the more important things I’ve discovered.
1 – Your geographical area is NOT different. If bigger markets are charging 100 bucks a month for a certain service, and you feel like you can only charge 80 a month, don’t blame the market, it’s not them, it’s you! Raise your prices, raise the value of what you offer and become a premium provider.
2- Odds are, your closing rations will not change when you raise your prices, in fact even if it does drop, the increase in profit per client usually far exceeds the previous price point even with less clients.
3 – Test, test and test. Don’t assume you know what they’ll pay, play around and test.
4 – Unless you’re selling a commodity, you shouldn’t be displaying your prices online. If you offer a quality service and post your price online, you encourage the market to cut you down to commodity status and compare you based purely on cost.
5 – When showing pricing options to a prospect, when possible you should have three options, a low, almost not worth it option, an extremely high premium option, and a middle, strategically planned and best option for both you and them. When closing the sale and showing the options, be sure to stop, point with a pen and even circle the middle option, the one you’d rather them pick, to help stimulate their subconscious that that is the one they should buy.
Mistake Number 39 – They are wasting money and losing sight of their overhead.
This one seems obvious, but even after almost two decades in business, sometimes I do something that makes go think to myself “that was stupid, what in the world was I thinking!”. We all make mistakes, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but be mature enough to notice the mistakes and learn from it. The worst thing you can do is notice a mistake, like keeping a destructive staff on the payroll, and not doing anything about it. Especially when you’re starting off, you need to be very mindful of every decision you make in your business and pay close attention to every dollar that leaves your shop. When I get invited to investigate someone’s business, I’m always blown away at the number of financial leaks that are just pouring out the back door threatening to sink the whole business.
Mistake Number 40 – They aren’t using press releases.
When it comes to “free” marketing, I feel press releases, when properly done, are one of the most underutilized methods out there, especially with small businesses. Ever notice that big companies are always in the news? Any time they add a branch to their business, land a big client, expand their reach or basically anything, they get an article. Do you think that’s just random or because their big? No. It’s because they have an employee whose sole job is to put together powerful press releases and send them out non-stop.
Of course, these need to actually be newsworthy and not self-promoting flyers.
Mistake Number 41 – They aren’t targeting their marketing
Have you ever really taken a look at who your clients are? Maybe you never noticed that a lot of them are doctors. Or perhaps a larger percentage of your clientele are moms over 40, or new dads, or… If you think your clients consist of basically anyone with breath, you’re delusional. Even large retailers like Walmart have a target market. Take the time to really think about who you should be targeting and tailor your marketing efforts to that group directly.
Mistake Number 42 – Not understand who’s buying
Mistake Number 43 – They are going for aesthetic over effective.
There’s a fine line between aesthetically pleasing and financially lucrative, and testing will always help you decide what side of the line you’re on. From a graphic designer’s perspective, they’ll make everything pretty, colors match, things blend together nicely, have it spaced out properly, etc. which is great, but from a marketer’s perspective, we want certain things to clash, images to pop, phrases to stand out, and maximize the ad space we’re working with. It’s a constant battle, but you want to make sure that you’re not too far on either side. Don’t design ads based purely on prettiness and have zero marketing pull and don’t design ads that are hideous and all marketing. This is the modern age, and consumers like a blend of pretty in their ads.
Mistake Number 44 – They aren’t changing street signs.
Earlier I wrote about the dangers of using too many words in roadside signage, which is important, but I’ve found that not changing the signs often is an even BIGGER problem. Face it, after you’ve seen a sign a few times you stop looking at it or even noticing it, even if it’s right there and easy to see. On the other hand, we all know that one church that puts a cute or funny saying on their sign and we check every morning on the way in to see what it says! Now obviously, a big traditional billboard is a bit more difficult to rotate often, but the smaller portable roadside signs can be changed quite easily, and should be, on a monthly basis.
Mistake Number 45 – They don’t have a system for gathering referrals.
When I speak to a group of business owners, no matter how many are in the group, and I ask “How many of you get the majority, or a large percentage of your businesses, through word of mouth?” nearly every hand in the room goes up. I then say “Now, keep your hands up if you have a strategic system to gather those referrals” and almost without a doubt, all but one or two hands will go down – and the point is delivered. If a large percentage of your business comes from word of mouth, doesn’t it seem logical to build systems around that so you can facilitate, improve and track that word of mouth lead generation?
Mistake Number 46 – They aren’t differentiating your business
One of the first questions I ask a business owner is “what makes you different from so and so [competitor, others in the same field]” and the amount of times I hear “nothing” is absolutely scary. Or, even worst is “we’re friendlier, we deliver the best service” or some other non-measurable crap that any business can mumble without it ever needing to be backed or measured.
If you plan on making leaps and bounds ahead of your competition, it is absolutely essential that you find your uniqueness and make it known. In the rare case that there is nothing different between you and your competitors, then it’s your duty as a business owner ot CREATE something that sets you apart. Listen, you don’t want to compete on price, you’re not a commodity, you’re an entrepreneur, so set yourself apart and act like one.
Mistake Number 47 – They don’t have a back end, offer upsells or downsells.
This one ties in with having a solid marketing strategy, but I wanted to give it its own mistake to drive the point deeper. If you have clients who have bought, odds are very good that you can sell them something else, and ideally at the moment they are making a purchase. Retail stores do this constantly by putting little gadgets and trinkets around the cash so while you’re already in paying mode and have your wallet out, you see something you might like and say “what the heck, I’ll take this as well!” and take the upsell. Yet, in most businesses outside of the retail world, people seem to forget this! You should always have a strategic plan to offer add-ons at the point of purchase to accompany or tie in with their current purchase.
Mistake Number 48 – The don’t understand the importance of font, font size, styles, etc.
Have you ever read an add or scanned a poster on a street pole and wondered to yourself “what the heck does that say?”? I know I have. I find this mistake more commonly when bars or musicians are promoting their stuff and they use these crazy fonts in order to come across as “cool” but never take into account the fact that no one can read what the poster is saying from 50 feet away driving by! But it doesn’t just apply for posters… From the copy on your website, flyers, pamphlets, business cards, etc. it’s essential that everything is clean, legible and organized in a way that leads the eye where you want it go. It’s usually recommended that you only use one or two font styles, sizes and colors. For example, all your headings might use X font, and all the body copy use Y font, with bold or italic to draw attention and focus on power points, but you don’t want to start using a dozen different font styles.
Mistake Number 49 – They aren’t educating their prospects.
Far too many business owners complain that their prospects don’t do something, like buy their superior product or service, yet have never taken the time to EDUCATE them as to why their product or service is miles ahead of alternative options. Or maybe the market doesn’t even realize it needs your product or doesn’t realize just how much it can improve their life. Or maybe the market sees it as a commodity product and not it’s true form. Or… Or… Or… The point is, anytime you catch yourself thinking your market is not understanding something or doing something you think they should be doing, think to yourself “how can I show them how important this is?” and educate them.
Mistake Number 50 – They aren’t setting up the buying criteria, the baseline of acceptance.
This follows closely with mistake number 49, but I wanted to emphasize the point even further… When I was promoting my health studio, I would create a four-page report titled “How to reach all your health and fitness goals in (what ever the new year is)” and I’d list out a dozen or so rock solid ways that, if followed, really would significantly improve the likelihood of them achieving their goals. This report was massively valuable and a great read. But here’s the thing, that article, despite it being accurate and loaded with useful information, was designed to lead the prospect to one logical conclusion and without them realising it. The conclusion was simply that my fitness studio was the only true (and obvious) solution to their problems. Listen, it’s your job as an entrepreneur to differentiate yourself from your competitors and add more value to your clients than anyone else is adding – and that means it’s also your duty (assuming you did the first part) to educate your prospects on what they need best, and set up the buying criteria in a way that the absolute least they should accept in X product or service is only offered by you.