My wife is an excellent cook. The only problem is that we have a 3 year old at home. Any parent will know that sometimes to get a “three-nager” to eat can be a near impossible task. So, we had to find creative ways to get my son to eat his food. For example, my wife would shape his fried rice into the shape of a cartoon character or change up his eating utensils to have different colors. In the end of the day, we had to find a solution that worked. When doing business, it is much the same way. You can have a great product, a wonderful service, or you may even be a very pleasant person, but without the right marketing strategy, your customers will not get to enjoy what you have to offer and your business is bound to fail.
Here are three common mistakes from my experience as a marketer that I see small businesses (or even large ones) often make in the marketplace.
1. Selling Gold while Wearing Jeans
As human beings, what meets the eye is a very important part of communication. It’s no wonder that if you take a simple set of food like a burger, fries, and salad and instead of placing them in takeout containers but present them on stylish kitchen ware, using fine cutlery, and setting it within a fine dining environment, you can mark up the price from $10 to $24! It’s the very same with your business. What kind of image and branding are you giving off to your customers when they interact with you? Every detail from your business cards, logo, catalogues, displays, website, and even packaging counts. One of the biggest mistakes that many make in business is that they invest too less into marketing and branding. It’s just like selling gold while wearing jeans! You may have a great product or service, but shaping perceptions can really release your product/service’s value potential!
2. More Clanging Among the Noise
Another big mistake most businesses make in their marketing efforts is what I call “noise”. Most people on average see more than five thousand advertisements per day and so most of us have learned to ignore 99% of them. In other words, noise is simply saying what others are saying. It is bland and boring cup of coffee, the same thing over and over again. What you need to do for your business is to find your voice and turn your noise into a song. How do you do that? Most importantly, you need to avoid doing this: being a generalist and all things to all people – a jack of all trades. As much as you think it’s great to make more business by doing all things for all people, the truth is you can’t. Find your company’s core strength in your product or service offering and make it clear and simple. For example, if you are a real estate agent, don’t just say you are one. There are forty thousand of them in Toronto alone! So what makes you special? Saying something like this instead: “I am a real estate agent that specializes in the purchase & sale of new condo developments within the York Region area”. Don’t be a small fish in a big pond, but create a position where you have become a big fish in a small pond. That’s where the right people will begin to hear you sing!
3. Leaving your seeds in the cupboard
The final mistake that most businesses make is simply waiting for business to come. In order to see results, you need to be proactive rather than reactive. Most prefer to spend money on traditional advertisements such as newspapers, magazines, and direct mail. These are all good investments that can get your name out there and generate valid leads that may lead to potential sales. However, some of the most valuable leads come simply from face-to-face interactions. People tend to remember face-to-face interactions much more than an advertisement, email, or phone call (hot or cold). And so every time you meet a potential customer in person, think of it as planting seeds of opportunity for your business. It may not be fruitful immediately, but it will potentially down the road bear surprising results. So, where can you find opportunity to meet people? Join a business association, a local board of trade, or a business networking event, all these are great opportunities to meet lots of interesting and inspirational people, exchange business cards, and grow your business. Don’t leave your seeds in the cupboard, go out and start planting. You will eventually see them bear fruit a hundred times!