I study small business marketing, all day, every day. Here are the 5 marketing and business development mistakes, which I see most often.
1. Swimming in the same direction as your competitors
The single most common marketing mistake most small business owners make, is that they tend to be far too similar to their competitors. They will offer a similar range of services, make similar promises, charge similar fees and have similar looking websites etc.
The more you look like your competitors, the less visible you become. You simply blend into the background. When a prospective client finds your website or speaks with you, if you seem just like all the others, your fee or price will be all they have to determine your value. Think of it like this: Why would they pay you more than your less expensive competitor, if on the face of it, you look so alike?
Think about your prospective clients and the problems they have. What are they worrying about right now? Redesign your marketing, so that it makes it extremely clear that you can and will help people solve those problems. Develop your brand based on the value you bring. Don’t make the mistake of copying the crowd, hoping they must be doing it right!
2. Waiting for it to be perfect
One of the key reasons people procrastinate, is that they are waiting for perfection and of course, things are never perfect! Waiting for perfection before you take action means you will spend a lot of time wondering why you keep missing opportunities. The late Jim Rohn used to say that people proudly proclaim that they are perfectionists, when in reality, the need for perfection is more of a problem than a plus.
In my experience, this need for perfection is far more likely to hinder your results, than enhance them.
3. Doing what’s easy, rather than what’s correct
Many small business owners only use marketing ideas that they see as being either fun or easy. Rather than do what’s required in order to achieve the results they need, they take the easy route. The obvious problem with that approach to business, is that your sales figures are a reflection of what you do. If you ignore the areas of marketing required for success, your results will reflect this.
Marketing should be extremely interesting and enjoyable. If it isn’t, you are almost certainly either doing it wrong or you are using a form of marketing that’s based on chasing or pursuing people.
4. Mistaking movement for progress
Many small business owners waste years, working extremely hard, doing the wrong things extremely well. We all know of honest, hard-working people who seem to make little real progress despite all those long hours of sweat and tears. One of the fastest ways to become extremely stressed, is to see little reward at the end of a great deal of hard work.
If you are going to row your boat with all your strength, make sure you are heading in the right direction first. Otherwise, the harder you work, the further you will be from where you WANT to be.
5. Thinking that customer service is not a key part of marketing
Many businesses treat customer service and marketing as 2 unrelated functions. They are not. They are 2 parts of the same thing. A super-satisfied client base or customer base is the most powerful referral engine on the planet. If you want to attract more word of mouth, you need to give your clients something to talk about.
You need to offer a level of service that has people wanting to shout from the rooftops. The problem most business owners face here, is that they usually underestimate how good a service their competitors offer and overestimate how good their own service is. They speak to former clients of their competitors and do not realise that this feedback is NOT usually typical of the service these providers offer. They are the rants of angry, pissed-off former clients.
In short: To get your clients to remark on you, you need to be remarkable.
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