Are you Making One Of These 6 Fatal Marketing Mistakes?

January 17, 2008


Are you getting the results you want from your small business marketing? If not, make sure you don’t make one of the six fatal marketing mistakes that some small business owners make:

People Will Remember Your Name - Right?: No matter how catchy your name - it is your corporate identity that people will remember. So make sure you have an eye catching logo and get it in front of customers and prospective customers at all opportunities.

Trying To Market To Everybody: No matter how great your business is, not everybody will be in the market for what you offer. So, you need to define your target market.

What type of person will your product or service appeal to? How old are they? Where do they live? What magazines do they read? Which forums do they hang out in?

The more you can discover about your target market, the easier it will be to reach them.

Lack of Repitition: The average person will need to see your logo at least three times before they notice you at all. So make sure they do see it, at least three times in a row and preferably in different forms or places.

Ignoring Existing Customers:
It costs far less to sell more to an existing customer than it does to find a new one. Now I don’t suggest that you try to sell to them constantly. But, you should make existing customers a priority and keep in touch with them. If you don’t, they’ll forget all about you and by the time they need your product or service again, they won’t even remember who you are.

Justifying Marketing That Sucks By Saying You’re Building Brand Awareness:
Unless you have a massive amount of cash to play with, you can’t afford to do any marketing that doesn’t give a return on your investment. If you’re not making a profit, or at least breaking even on any advertising or marketing campaign - pull the plug on it.

Not Testing and Measuring: Test and measure every single bit of marketing you do. Record it on a spreadsheet and examine your results to ensure you’re making a profit. Remember to keep a record of A) How much each marketing campaign costs and B) How much profit you made from it (make sure you record your net profit - not just gross sales). And if the figure you wind up with A is more than the one in B - either improve on it until you get it right, or ditch it.

What marketing mistakes have you made? And what would you do differently next time? Do you have any marketing tips you would like to share with small business owners?

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22 Responses to “Are you Making One Of These 6 Fatal Marketing Mistakes?”

  1. Ian Denny on January 17th, 2008 9:09 am

    One thing many small businesses ignore is research. Because research costs, right?

    Well yes it does.

    Scratch the word research for a second and replace it in your mind with “marketing campaign”.

    A research circular can often deliver better results than a marketing circular.

    I sent an email recently to non-clients. I told them I was looking for ways to improve our service, and asked if they could tell me the single most brilliant thing their current IT support company does that they love.

    I got lots of ideas and suggestions.

    But many also asked me for a quote to support their IT.

    Maybe they couldn’t think of anything their current company did well, and thought it would be worth considering switching to a company who cares enough to ask to improve their service.

    Try research. Instead of asking “please buy” in your marketing, ask “Just a bit of research, tell me what’s wrong with this aspect of our service or how it could be improved?”.

    Do that to clients AND prospects. Because you’re not selling, I’ve found people are more inclined to buy.

    A focus group of non-clients often works well. Consider a new aspect or feature of your service, and get a few prospective clients together for a coffee and chat to see how they could help define, improve and implement the idea.

    Do you think they would want to buy if they knew you did something they need, and they helped you put it together?

    Research can cost very little. And it doesn’t have to be scientific. In fact, try and make it just one question. It’s easier to quickly answer a single question than dozens.

    And you can spread those questions out over time.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if such a “research campaign” gets double or more the amount of business than your usual sales-led circular gets.

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Stumbled Upon Insight: The Life-Raft Of Business Turnaround Or Short Cut To A Better Ship?

  2. cathlawson on January 17th, 2008 9:42 am
    Ian - that is a brilliant way to attract new customers. Not only do you find out what they’re looking for. But, you also get them to ask themselves the questions “What is great about my IT company”.

    And if they can’t think of anything, it’s brilliant for you - because they decide to try you instead. And why shouldn’t they - at least you cared enough to ask what they wanted.

    This is an excellent tip. I will be trying it out to see how it works for my business too. Thanks.

  3. jsanderz on January 17th, 2008 1:34 pm

    Cath,
    Great tips and ideas, I especially like the ‘Trying To Market To Everybody’ tip, it is one I need to concentrate on more.
    Regards

    jsanderz’s last blog post..Backup or Else..Continued

  4. Ian Denny on January 17th, 2008 2:23 pm

    Cath,

    I do recommend it. It’s especially good for people who don’t like selling. Research is more friendly and helpful. It doesn’t have the same stigma as picking up the phone or trying to write an email or letter to specifically sell.

    I once marketed a training course. Spent hundreds of pounds on a brochure which went out in a newsletter circular to 4000 members of a particular organisation.

    I got virtually nothing. I got on the phone to fill the places as was getting nowhere.

    So I gave up.

    But to find out where I went wrong, I called people and instead of speaking to the decision maker, I started asking whoever answered the phone for some opinion on why the course didn’t appeal, and what we could change about it to make it more appealing next time.

    I noticed that the person answering the phone started putting me through to the decision maker (before they didn’t because I was obviously selling).

    When I got through I asked the same question “what was wrong”.

    Before I knew it, the course was full as few of the people I spoke to could find much wrong and in fact were interested.

    I suspect that both you and the person you speak to act differently when the process of selling is taken out of the equation.

    I suspect that the person involved in the research is buying rather than you selling if that makes sense. And you aren’t even suggesting they do, they are deciding to because they are evaluating what you say rather than looking for the catch or the sales techniques which can often distract - even though you aren’t misleading them anyway.

    It’s a great approach for those who aren’t natural salespeople, don’t like selling or are disillusioned with poor returns from what they do.

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Stumbled Upon Insight: The Life-Raft Of Business Turnaround Or Short Cut To A Better Ship?

  5. Barbara on January 17th, 2008 6:59 pm

    Hi Catherine,

    I worked for one business that used the name of his business three times in his logo…they kind of overlapped, in a classy way.

    Also, we have a local business thats’ huge, and the name is “John Doe and Sons”. When we started our business we went more “globally” with our name, and have had many calls over the years for huge jobs……..jobs we end up referring to “John Doe” as they are great at getting those big jobs done right. (And they refer smaller jobs to us.)

    When we get a call from a new client, I make it a point to ask them how they found out about us. If we are running an ad (which we don’t do very often), it lets me know if those advertising dollars are paying off.

    Like Ian said, we often need to change the questions we are asking. If we say we are doing “research” (vs “selling”), others are more apt to give an answer. You just need to be prepared for what could be constructive criticism.

    Barbara’s last blog post..WP - Use of Post Timestamp May Require Changing Your Post Slug

  6. cathlawson on January 17th, 2008 7:31 pm
    Hi Barbara - that is so funny. So you sound like a national company and they sound like a small one and you trade jobs. Nobody would expect a company called John Doe to be that big.

    We always ask how they found out about us - it is a must isn’t it, or you don’t know what’s working. But, sometimes when I was at Rainbow I suspected that staff weren’t doing it and just saying the job came via yellow pages. That’s why I’m a bit reluctant to have anyone else answering the phones again just yet.

    Ian’s question was brilliant. In the past I have asked what they like least about their current service provider. But asking what they like best would be far more effective as it really makes them think.

  7. Barbara on January 17th, 2008 7:55 pm

    Catherine,

    Their name really isn’t “John Doe and Sons”, (it is ‘ ****& sons”),but doesn’t it make a company sound small if it is “daddy and his boy(s)”?

    What’s is funny, is that we only have a handful of employees, and the bigger company has close to 200.

    Although it may “stroke your ego” to see your own name on a logo, letterhead, or whatever, it’s actually the client’s impression that matters.

    Barbara’s last blog post..WP - Use of Post Timestamp May Require Changing Your Post Slug

  8. Ian Denny on January 17th, 2008 10:13 pm

    The outsourced tekephone answering is working great by the way.

    I say this because it helps you focus. And not have those nervous moments when away from the office of “are they answering the phone right?”

    As we’ve got to know the current company, they’ve got to know what’s important and what isn’t.

    I’ve had calls patched through which are new enquiries.

    I’ve been told how they heard about us as I’ve taken the call.

    We had some very minor teething problems - but that’s just getting to know each other and our clients too.

    Where there has been a slight problem, it;s really easy to resolve it with an outsourced company than an employee.

    I can raise the issue over the phone, by email or however I want. Because I know it’s their problem to put it right.

    And they do. Instantly.

    It’s harder with staff. You have to be sensitive and sometimes wait for the right moment. You have to tackle issues about telephone answering which are private and character-related rather than really personal.

    You sometimes have to tip-toe around the issue and get the result in the end, but hard-fought.

    With an outsourced company, the challenge is with the line manager who quality controls the people answering the calls.

    And makes tweaks as necessary.

    I love it and think you should try it.

    But don’t get cheap - get good.

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Stumbled Upon Insight: The Life-Raft Of Business Turnaround Or Short Cut To A Better Ship?

  9. Catherine Lawson on January 17th, 2008 10:35 pm

    Thanks Ian - I was wondering how you were getting on with that service. I’ve used three companies in the past and they ranged from ok to appalling.

    But, I found that they simply became overwhelmed during claim surge, as they did not have the staff available to answer everyone’s calls quickly enough.

    This type of service would definitely be more suitable for me now. And if I could give them access to our system so they could log jobs that would be even better.

    I will be giving them a call soon.

    Catherine Lawson’s last blog post..Are you Making One Of These 6 Fatal Marketing Mistakes?

  10. Catherine Lawson on January 17th, 2008 10:40 pm

    Barbara - I thought John Doe was the real name! I know what you mean though. So many service businesses just start out using their own name and it usually looks completely unprofessional.

    Plus - they usually pick adverts with their name in the biggest letters possible. So instead of finding an electrician, for example - potential customers only see something like Fred Smith and Son. And everything else is too small to read.

    Catherine Lawson’s last blog post..Are you Making One Of These 6 Fatal Marketing Mistakes?

  11. Theda K. on January 18th, 2008 12:34 am

    Hi Catherine,

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. How did you find me? (I’m actually curious, and it goes well with this topic).

    My biggest marketing error from your list is probably lack of repetition. My actual biggest marketing error is no marketing at all. I’m glad you found my blog, so now I can delve into yours to get some much-needed marketing advice. I’m great at what I do, but no one knows about me. Or those that do have forgotten me by now.

    Thanks for the tips!

    Theda K.’s last blog post..Getting started as a freelance writer: Books to read

  12. cathlawson on January 18th, 2008 1:05 am
    Hi Theda - thanks for dropping by. That is a good question - and a difficult one to answer, because I’m not completely sure.

    There was a link coming from your blog to mine - so I visited. And when I arrived I recognised your picture.

    I am wondering if I visited at some point and made a comment in the comments section?

    I’m guessing that I saw a comment luv link in your post on another blog. Have you visited http://www.addictedtowriting.com? It could have been there.

    As for the marketing, I’m sure you’ll start doing some soon. It just takes so much time to keep up with the actual writing of the blogs alone doesn’t it?

  13. Barbara on January 18th, 2008 7:03 pm

    Catherine,

    You mentioned how some will use large wording on their vehicle advertising…for their name, etc….

    We also notice that on some business cards. The name is huge, but the contact information, e.g. phone/fax numbers are very tiny…where’s the magnifying glass? :)

    As much as name recognition is important, we also need to remember to make it easy for potential clients to contact us.

    Barbara’s last blog post..Wife Sues Husband’s Blog For Alienation of Affection

  14. cathlawson on January 19th, 2008 2:56 am
    Barbara - that is so true. It makes it tough to use a service when you can’t even see the phone number.

    Also, I often wonder whether it’s best to have one side of the business card blank, incase people want to write on the back of it. Or would it make more sense to have both sides printed?

  15. Nicole on January 20th, 2008 8:24 am

    Very good advices !
    Thanks once again for the brainstorming!

  16. cathlawson on January 20th, 2008 2:37 pm
    Thanks Nicole - Glad you found it useful.
  17. xBrain on January 21st, 2008 5:49 am

    Barbara,

    Personally I think the advice on :
    Not Testing and Measuring: Test and measure every single bit of marketing you do. Record it on a spreadsheet and examine your results to ensure you’re making a profit. Remember to keep a record of A) How much each marketing campaign costs and B) How much profit you made from it (make sure you record your net profit - not just gross sales). And if the figure you wind up with A is more than the one in B - either improve on it until you get it right, or ditch it.

    This is good advice. Last few years I owned a company but not it closed due to the high overhead cost.

    Erm..as a businessman we should taken this measurement seriously or else our business can’t grow

  18. cathlawson on January 21st, 2008 6:07 am
    XBrain - that is so true. I hope you’ve recovered from the closure of your company.

    Many people just don’t test and measure at all because they don’t understand the risks of not doing so.

  19. Pinny Cohen on January 21st, 2008 3:48 pm

    I think you hit the nail right on the head with these tips - basically things I’ve always subscribed to.

    I would add, when I consult I usually recommend 6 repetitions, as I have seen anything past that drives action, not just memory.

    Pinny Cohen’s last blog post..Control Your Career By Creating A Job Position

  20. Catherine Lawson on January 21st, 2008 10:20 pm

    Hi Penny - many people do say six repetitions. Three usually works for me, but it would be interesting to see how much greater the results are after six. That could be another thing that is worth testing.

    Catherine Lawson’s last blog post..107 Great Resources To Unleash The Entrepreneur Within You

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