I’m about to hop a plane Wisconsin to be a visiting artist at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, but luckily I’ve got a great guest post from Meredith of Smaller Box to share while I’m gone. Meredith is talking about 5 mistakes rookie marketers (and sometimes even more seasoned marketers) often make. She’s also got a new ebook out that guides you through all the steps of putting together your marketing plan (details at the end of the post). Thanks, Meredith!
If creativity is the passion that prompted you to start your business, it’s easy to let marketing be an afterthought. Even if you’re committed to marketing your business, there are so many pitfalls that can keep you from the success you deserve. Below are 5 of the most common mistakes people make when trying to market their small business.
When we start a business we’re full of enthusiasm and high hopes. We think “I’ll create a website and a Facebook page and, because my products are so amazing, I’ll have thousands of loyal fans in no time!” After a few months pass and you’ve only shipped a dozen or so orders the disappointment and self-doubt sets in. You think to yourself “I’ve been blogging, I’ve been Tweeting, I’ve been advertising, what gives? Maybe it’s just me. I should’ve shipped hundreds of orders by now!”
It’s not just you, this happens to a lot of people. It’s important to start a business with realistic expectations so you’re not disappointed. Marketing takes time to deliver results and some marketing methods are going to be more effective than others. It’s important to do some projections, so you have an idea of what results you can expect from a marketing endeavor. You also need to understand that marketing is a cumulative process, so the little things you accomplish each day become big things down the road.
Ignoring Secondary Conversions
On the subject of marketing’s cumulative effects, it’s important to understand all the results of a marketing campaign. We get so hung up on direct sales that we may ignore very valuable secondary conversions. If a marketing campaign delivers Facebook likes, Twitter followers, newsletter subscribers, RSS followers, etc. those are all valuable conversions, even if they didn’t result in immediate sales. If direct sales is the only metric you pay attention to, you may shut down a marketing channel that was delivering terrific benefits.
When you measure the results of a campaign, it’s a good idea to look at all the different kinds of conversions it was able to deliver. You want to measure direct sales, but you also want to look for other signs of success that can lead to more orders down the road. These results could be a larger social media following, an increase in your mailing list sign ups, or a larger following on your blog.
Picking the Wrong Marketing Venue/Technique
We often pick marketing venues or techniques because “everyone else is doing it.” Everyone’s on Twitter, I should be on Twitter. Everyone’s advertising on HipsterIndieBlog.com, I should advertise on HipsterIndieBlog.com. This mentality will never deliver the results you want because your business is not like everyone else’s business.
You want to choose marketing venues and techniques based on YOUR business. You need to consider your own target demographic, your own goals, your own products and services. Your customers may not be on Twitter. They may not read HipsterIndieBlog.com. Adwords might be the most productive platform for you. Viral videos might be the right path to your success. You can’t make these determinations until you understand your own business. You need to know your target market and how to reach them. You need to spell out your objectives and what marketing tactics will be most effective for achieving them.
Not Understanding Marketing Techniques
Different marketing techniques are designed to deliver different results. If you don’t know what results you’ve optimized for, it can be pretty disappointing when you were looking for result A and only see result B. For example, search engine marketing is geared to direct sales. The idea is you put products or services in front of people when they are searching for them, and that makes them more likely to buy. For a lot of companies this works well.
The downside to this kind of marketing is that it can be a bottomless pit. You can keep paying 20 cents per click and getting a 1% conversion rate, but if you stop paying the sales stop coming. If you invest all your money in search engine marketing but your goal was to grow a brand with a large following and social media buzz you may find you’re making almost no in-roads in that department. Sales might increase as you spend more money, but your brand awareness is still pretty low. It’s not that your brand isn’t lovable, it’s that you’ve optimized for direct sales over brand awareness.
When you design a marketing campaign, it’s important to know from the beginning what you want the results to be. Do you want link building because it is great for your SEO and you’ve seen a high conversion rate on organic search? Do you want social media followers because you’ve seen a high conversion rate from social sites? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you figure out which techniques are going to be most important to you and help you accurately evaluate your results.
Not Being Ready for Marketing
One of the biggest and most common mistakes I see, is online shops getting into marketing before they’re ready. Marketing will bring customers to your virtual doors, but your website might send them packing. Before you do any marketing you’ve got to make sure your website is up to snuff.
Once you’ve got a website that’s optimized for converting visitors, you’ve got to take the time to actually understand your audience, develop your unique selling proposition and plan out your marketing strategy. This includes evaluating all the marketing techniques you’re considering; coming up with ROI projections and a list of desired results. Once you’ve got your site in order and a solid plan of action, then you’re ready to do some marketing.
Stop Marketing Like a Rookie
If you’re not getting great results from your marketing efforts, it’s time to stop marketing like a rookie. My new ebook, Marketing With a Plan: How to Successfully Implement Effective Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Small Business (Without Using Words Like “Synergy”), is designed to take you from newbie marketer to confident expert, at least when it comes to marketing your own business. I wrote this book based on my own experiences starting my retail shop from scratch and growing it into a profitable business with thousands of customers.
In the book you’ll learn to:
- Research your target market, identify who they are and how to reach them.
- Develop your unique selling proposition.
- Develop marketing ideas and evaluate them with an eye for projected results.
- Project costs and return on investment for every marketing strategy.
- Break big projects down into smaller manageable tasks.
- Stay on track and get things done.
- Set priorities based on what is likely to deliver the best results.
- Evaluate campaign results, understanding what worked and what didn’t, so you can make better decisions.
- Compare your actual campaign results with projections.