Five Common Mistakes

“It’s just not working.” That’s the statement we hear most often when we talk with potential clients. And what people mean by this, typically, is that the approaches they’ve taken to promoting their businesses have fallen short. Customer engagement is weak, sales are so-so. Does this sound familiar to you? Are you frustrated because you’re pouring money into marketing strategies and just not seeing results? You’re not alone, and there are a few reasons why.

Over the years I’ve found that entrepreneurs tend to make the same 5 mistakes over and over again when devising their own marketing campaigns. If you’re struggling, ask yourself:

Do I talk to myself?

Marketing is about your customer and their needs, not about who you are and what you do. Rarely has business been won by a CEO solely touting himself and his expertise! Stop explaining yourself. Instead, seek to craft messages that explain how you help people be more successful, how you solve their problems, and how you meet their desires.

Consider Microsoft’s marketing of its newest Surface Pro laptop. Microsoft describes it here as “the most versatile laptop” with “uncompromising mobility” and “exceptional power and performance.” You can even “make it your own.” This laptop is for YOU. This is effective marketing at its best. It understands what customers want and need and then gives them a solution. Notice Microsoft spends no time talking about its years of computing experience or its creation of Windows or other products.

Listing your credentials to build confidence in your expertise is fine, but do at the end of the pitch. Keep the main focus on your customers.

Am I shouting at my customers?

Your marketing should seek to engage customers and appeal to their interests and values, not just shout your slogans and specials. This is why strategies like email marketing and social media presence are important. They allow businesses to segment their audience and speak more intimately with individuals. Instead of shouting through a megaphone, companies are engaged in conversation. They are meeting customers where they are and providing personalized solutions — and maybe even a little fun.

Take this example from Staples’ awesome Instagram page. Staples has managed to take some of the most boring and mundane items on the school supply list — an eraser and a few crayons — and turn them into an entertaining game with lots of customer engagement. They’re promoting the fact that they sell these items without shouting, “Hey, buy our crayons!” This is the spirit of what we’re getting at when we say to stop shouting.

Have I settled?

Are you continuing to invest in marketing tactics that are not performing but are comfortable for you? Are you failing to test and evolve? Are you failing to make the necessary adjustments?

Consider your email marketing. Business owners love email marketing because it’s fast and easy. I love email marketing, too. The problem is, by failing to analyze the results of email campaigns, which can be a virtual gold mine of information, business owners remain stuck with the same messages going out to the same people, month after month. By failing to analyze who opened the email, how often they opened it, when they opened it, and whether they shared it, the results of the email campaign never improve.

If you’re not learning, you’re not growing. Don’t settle for comfortable or “good enough” with your marketing.

Am I standing alone in my silo?

Picture silos on a farm. They’re there to separate grains. Silos on a farm are needed. In business, the silo metaphor is applied to departments within an organization that lack the means or motivation to work together. In marketing, the silos separate marketing channels: the website, social media, speaking engagements, networking events, advertisements, etc. which are kept separate so that each has its own message and strategy for message delivery.

The problem is that silo marketing reduces the efficiency of the message. Shear volume leaves each channel shouting over the other one (there we go with shouting again), and the message is ultimately lost in the collective roar. And by not sharing data, silo marketing can ultimately lead to lost resources.

What’s the solution? Aim to double (or triple) dip. For example, use networking events to drive traffic to your website, and make it very easy and enticing for people to then subscribe to your newsletter and your social media pages once they’re on that website. Do not separate marketing strategies in such a way that one never benefits the other.

Am I being too impatient?

To be an effective marketer, you have to think like a marketing pro, and that means often focusing on long-term results. Entrepreneurs tend to be production focused. That’s great for certain areas of your business, but not your marketing.

Did you sign up for a social media site and then get frustrated that you didn’t have thousands of followers and instant double sales? Well, that’s not a reasonable goal for social media. That’s a goal for a weekend special. Social media is a way to connect with consumers and develop relationships over time just like real life relationships. In the long run, you will see results. But instant success is not possible.

Certain areas of marketing take longer than others. Don’t quit before the miracle happens.

If your marketing campaigns aren’t yielding the results you desire, it’s worth asking yourself which of these 5 mistakes you’re making. Chances are, it’s at least one.