Marketing your small business is a full time job. Maybe a job and a half! I know that it has taken me years to get into the swing of things when it comes to marketing. Today I want to share with you some of the failures I’ve had, so you can avoid them yourself!
1. You Don’t Really Know Your Target Market
Over many successful and failed campaigns – I’ve come to learn that it is critically important that you know exactly who your target market is. This isn’t as hard as you may think if you have even just a dozen paying customers.
Start off by writing what you think your ideal customer looks like. Be descriptive:
- How old are they?
- How much do they earn?
- What do they like?
- How many kids do they have?
- What do they drive?
- Are they Mac or PC users?
- What websites do they visit?
Those are just a few of the questions you can ask, but I think you get the idea. Work to build a very full picture of who your client is and who they are not. Once you have that outlined – setup 10-15 interviews with your existing customers.
Ask them these questions:
- What problems does our business solve for you?
- What do you wish we had more of?
- If you were going to tell a close friend about us in a few words – what would you say?
- What made you first sign up?
- What kind of people would find our service useful?
When you start to ask those kinds of questions – you’ll start to find out what your customers are really like. Too often we market to the people who don’t want or need our service and we force them to buy (for lack of a better term).
What if you just offered your services to people who desperately needed you? Imagine how easy that would be! I often think of a friend of mine when it comes to marketing.
My friend Eric sells snacks to people at fairs and events. When the people get there, they are relaxing, walking around somewhere they paid to get into, and having fun. They get hungry and there is Eric’s food stand. All Eric has to do is hand them a product.
He doesn’t have to create desire or come up with some fancy pitch. He just has to show up. Imagine if you could find huge crowds of your ideal customer. Then all you would have to do is show up.
This is why it is important that you know who your customers really are. Once you know that – you can start to market more effectively. So do the work now and reap the benefits later. Go out and interview your customers and figure out who they really are!
2. Your Ad Copy Sucks
Yes – you have to set aside personal feelings when it comes to your ad copy. Maybe you wrote it. Maybe your friend wrote it. Maybe your star employee wrote it. It doesn’t matter.
You have to start looking at what converts. That is the only thing that matters. In most cases people’s ad copy fails for one of these reasons:
- It’s vague and confusing
- It’s not touching pain
- It’s not edgy enough
- It hasn’t been properly tested
When it comes to creating a killer sales pitch you have to look at three things to start with:
- What does your audience already want?
- How can you catch their attention?
- Does your copy tell them exactly what to do next?
If you are being vague and not telling them what to do, your copy will fail. If you are trying to create human desire, stop. You are wasting your time. If you can’t catch their attention – start over. You have to start there!
In one of my favorite shows Don Draper proposes this swimsuit ad:
Unfortunately for Don and his agency – his client doesn’t get it. They reject the ad because it is too edgy. What they failed to understand is that they weren’t getting the attention of their clients with what they currently had for advertising.
The tagline “So well built we can’t show you the second floor” really would have gotten people’s attention, but Don’s client chickened out.
Stop thinking about what you like or don’t like. Start thinking about what works first. When it comes to authentically marketing your brand – you do have to look at the moral and ethical aspects, but you can’t get creative when you filter ideas out because they scare you.
I’m willing to bet that your current ad copy could use a lot more creativity. While you may need to hire a copywriting service to do the work – you have to be the one coming up with the ideas and the direction. You know your product and service better than anyone else. Make sure you breathe that feeling deep into the copy that goes out for your business!
3. You’re Not Using Enough Images
While this may seem simple to you at first it would be worth rechecking your blog, email marketing, and Facebook page to see how many images you are using. Images are what drives the web and drives social sharing. Are you using enough?
Even though I know that this is true – I struggle with using enough photos in my posts. I love reading and don’t always want to be distracted by images. However, I know that this is not what normal consumers are looking for.
Neil Patel shares the importance of images here and it’s worth remembering! One way that you can generate unique and useful images is by taking screenshots of whatever you are sharing about. Personally I love using Skitch because it lets me markup the images and blur out private data.
When I want to call attention to something it’s very easy. Plus it works on Mac, PC, and iOS or Android devices!
4. You Aren’t Emailing Your List Enough
Most business owners are surprised by my recommendations when it comes to email marketing. So take a quick quiz with me. Right now are you:
- Emailing once a month?
- Emailing twice a month?
- Emailing once per week?
You may be surprised – but if you answered 1, 2, or 3, you are not emailing enough! As an email marketer you need to aim for at least three emails per week. It may also surprise you, that as long as you are sending out high value content, you can email your list once a week or 5 times a week and you will have the same unsubscribe rate!
Bank of America studied this years ago and found that the rate of unsubscription stayed the same even when they emailed aggressively. So what does this mean to you?
It means that you need to start creating high value content more frequently. You need to contact your prospects and your customer list more aggressively. Consider the following scenario to help you get perspective:
- Your company offers car maintenance
- You have John Smith’s email and you email him once per month with specials on the first of the month
- Today is the 21st of the month and John gets a flat tire
- John looks up the closest auto repair shop and gets towed there
What would be different if you emailed more aggressively? Instead of searching for any local provider, John would remember seeing the email from you where you said you do tire repair and replacement. He would search his email and call you.
While it may seem like my example is an oversimplification of email marketing – it really isn’t. Anytime that I have been faithful in sending out creative content a few times a week, I generate consistent leads. Anytime I’ve slacked off in the past I see leads and website traffic slow down.
So stop being timid and start building up to where you email your list more frequently. Aim for at least once a week and then get to a few times a week over the course of a few months. If you’re stuck and don’t have ideas or time then you can just have us do the writing for you. Either way you need to get valuable content out there!
5. You’re Going too Fast and You Aren’t Consistent
One of the easiest things to forget when you’re building and managing your marketing campaign is that longevity and consistency trump everything else. In the past I’ve made the mistake of trying to blast huge lists of people with my special offers. This rarely has any positive effect at all, but will usually cause problems.
Instead of trying to have huge reach, focus instead on having frequent reach to a list of targeted customers who fit into your ideal customer demographic. Always focus on daily consistency rather than huge splashes.
Over time I’ve seen that long term plans will always outperform short term bursts of marketing. It’s a simple concept, but it’s easy to overlook. Take a moment today to review what you’re currently doing and see if it fits in a wise long term plan, or if you are just trying to make big inconsistent splashes. Be honest and make a change.
What do you think? Have you made mistakes like this in the past? What else should a marketer watch out for? Share your thoughts in the comments below!