Top 7 Sinkholes of Marketing
By Michele Schermerhorn
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Life provides your business with enough opportunities for failure. Don’t help it along by creating sinkholes to consume your limited financial resources. There are seven key mistakes most businesses make in the game of marketing. Learn to avoid them!
- Marketing Sinkhole #1: Indiscriminate Lust
Many companies want as many customers as they can handle (and then some). Because of this indiscriminate lust for volumes of customers, they treat everyone alike in their marketing efforts. Much like a randy stud will hit on every female at the bar, your marketing comes off just as “special” to your prospective customers. If you won’t take the time to decide who can really benefit from using your product or services, why should they take the time with you?
Successful marketing efforts start with identifying the specific customer who will benefit the most from your product or service. Then all your efforts should be directed at learning more about her, rather than creating the second sinkhole of marketing.
- Marketing Sinkhole #2: Veiled Contempt for Customers
The most powerful marketing tool you have available is to truly understand your customer’s unique needs and problems. Every customer segment will have different concerns and problems you need to address in your marketing efforts. When you don’t even attempt to understand them, you are demonstrating contempt for them. You have to earn the right to be a supplier to your customer.
Your customers don't really buy your specific products and services. They are actually buying solutions to their problems. So, provide them with enough information to make informed buying decisions. Use articles, presentations and case studies to educate them about what you do, how it works for them and why it’s the best solution to their problems. Don’t be arrogant enough to think you know better than your customers.
- Marketing Sinkhole #3: Arrogance
There is a very thin line between confidence and arrogance (I have crossed it many times so I know of what I speak). You and your company are not the “end all” and “be all” of the Universe. You need customers! They are (or should be) the “end all” and “be all” of your business.
Because you need customers, don’t treat them like they are stupid! Your marketing should never talk down to them. Your ads should never be insulting to them. Isn’t this apparent? You would think so. However, many companies violate these principles every day. They use hand puppets or animated germs to advertise their product.
Building off of the information you have learned about your customer, speak to them in their language. If they are 13 years old, talk to them as a 13 year old. If they are college educated, talk to them as if they have earned their degree. This will start you on your way to standing out from the crowd of competitors your customers have available to them today.
- Marketing Sinkhole #4: One of The Crowd
You may have spent all of high school trying to be part of a crowd, now it’s time to break old habits! As a business, you need to stand out from your competition to be noticed and make sales. You need to be one in a million, not just one of the millions. In Marketing, this concept is referred to as your “Unique Selling Proposition”, or USP. Your USP must tell customers “what’s so special about you?” It needs to answer the question “why should I do business with you?”
How do you develop your Unique Selling Proposition? What makes you different from others offering a similar product or service? Don’t know? Better find out fast! The more competitive your industry the more important it is to emphasize even the smallest differences. Are you better than others in addressing a specific issue? Is your product unique in some way? Do you guarantee your work?
Better stand out from the crowd or expect a lot of red ink on the bottom-line. Wasting time and money on your marketing efforts is not a goal to aspire to.
- Marketing Sinkhole #5: Wasting Marketing Time & Money
Which of your marketing efforts being employed right now result in the most new business? Don’t know, do you? Have you ever measured? Without measuring the success (increased sales) of each marketing effort, you are wasting time on ineffective methods. You are also neglecting the highest yield activities.
As an example, most professionals believe that networking is the best way to get new business. Let’s see. Add up the amount of time you spent networking last month and attach a dollar value on it based on your fees. Then, add the actual price you paid to attend those events. When you have a total, divide this total amount by the number of new customers your networking produced. Are you happy with your results? Maybe not!
Now, do this exercise for all your marketing efforts. Marketing does take effort. Never forget that!
- Marketing Sinkhole #6: Build It and They Will Come Marketing Vision
By virtue of the fact that you have a business (and maybe a website) doesn’t mean you get any customers. Tough fact! That’s life!
Too many people naively enter business thinking that the world will beat a path to their door. Sorry! You have to work, and work hard, for every customer you’ll ever get and keep. Marketing is about promoting yourself and your business in a way that motivates customers to buy from you, return again to purchase, and refer others to you.
- Marketing Sinkhole #7: Not Asking for Referrals
One of your biggest costs of running a business is the cost of acquiring new customers. So, how can you take that investment you already made on existing customers and get the maximum return? Referrals! But you have to ask!
One of the biggest mistakes made by most small business owners or salesmen is not asking happy customers for a referral to someone they know who would benefit by the same product or service. It is far easier to call a prospective client and say, “Mike Eastman asked me to call you”, than to make a cold call! You will buy yourself an extra minute or two in that sales connection to promote yourself and a customer solution. If you have trouble getting the referral, at the very least, ask if you can use them as a customer testimonial in your marketing efforts.
Many online businesses have other mechanisms to encourage referrals from happy customers by providing “refer a friend” links on their websites. Others also offer monetary return to the customer administered through an affiliate program. No matter how you do it, you need to use the happy customer to create more business. It is easier and cheaper than the alternatives!
Michele Schermerhorn calls herself a Corporate Freedom Fighter dedicated to freeing cubicle prisoners to experience their own successful online business. She has over 30 years experience in the business world and over 12 years running her own successful online businesses. She is President of Online Business Institute Inc. (http://www.obinstitute.com), authors a sassy marketing blog ([http://www.imarketblog.com]), and regularly conducts free online seminars. Online Business Institute Inc. exists to Create Successful Online Business Owners One Person At A Time.
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Article Submitted On: March 26, 2005