Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

How to kill your business!

A key factor in every failing business I have ever studied, is that the business owner dabbles.

Rather than get the professional help they need, they decide to crush their chances of success, by dabbling with their marketing.

Some common examples include:

  • People dabble with promotional offers: They make unattractive offers, to the wrong people, at the wrong time, using the wrong message and the wrong medium.
  • People dabble with social networking: They set up accounts, usually on too many social networks and then copy what they see other people doing.  They spread themselves too thinly and have no effective strategy.  As a result, they miss all the great opportunities.
  • People dabble with blogging: They set up a blog, with no clear idea of what they want to achieve.  They then fill their blog with “me too” posts (posts that simply repeat what millions of other people are saying) and then quit after a few months, because (it) didn’t work.
  • People dabble with email marketing: They buy a list or add people to a list (without their consent), and email them sales messages.  They waste months angering people with unwanted email, that the recipients never requested, and wonder why it didn’t work.
  • People dabble with advertising: They place the wrong message, in the wrong area of the wrong publication, at the wrong time.  They use the wrong typography, the wrong call to action and then proclaim; “advertising doesn’t work!”
  • People dabble with mail shots: They send a marketing letter, written usually by themselves rather than a copywriter (to save money), to a list they bought or built from contact data they found.  The mixture of amateur copywriting, bad targeting and no compelling reason for the reader to do anything, makes this a total waste of time.

Then there are enlightened small business owners

These business owners decide to build a successful business, so they invest in the professional marketing help they need.  They do the right things correctly and enjoy the rewards.

They have figured out that in the most challenging economy in living memory, the dabblers are simply dabbling their way out of business.

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  1. I can see the truth shining through in this post. I have dabbled in the past and probably do from time to time when not sure what I am doing. It stems from indecision I think and a need to be doing ‘something’. I heard Alan Sugar once say that his success was down to knowing his strengths and weaknesses. Then where he had weaknesses he would find people who had the skill set to enable him to reach new levels of success. One of the best character traits I see in people who are successful is they are aware and unashamed of their shortcomings.

  2. Hi Jim, dabbling is certainly a trait most small business owners have.

    I find it particularly applies to pay per click advertising – I speak to so many people who spend a couple of hundred pounds on a PPC campaign they’ve done themselves. They invariably get no return on their money and just dismiss the whole platform as a waste of time and cash.

    Like you say, if they’d approached an expert in the first place they would have got results from day one and had a completely different outlook.

  3. Dabbling wastes precious time and money.

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  5. Ignacio Molins

    August 9, 2011 at 12:21

    Certainly marketing is usually forgotten at the beginning of an entrepreneurial endeveour, a commercial approach, a push rather than a pull seems to be more inmediate. But, it is turning that equation around that will make the business susutainable in the long term; making people want your products and not the other way around!

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