With ever-increasing competition, winning a customer is harder than it’s ever been. This is not helped by the fact that many business owners simply have the wrong attitude to marketing and are making mistakes that are costing the business a fortune.
In this article let’s investigate three common beliefs about marketing your business, that could be losing you sales. The good news is that by changing your thinking you can immediately take the first steps to changing the results you are currently getting.
There’s a well-known saying, “if you continue to do what you’ve always done, then you continue to get what you always got.” A wise man said that this is the definition of madness, and yet every year business owners set stretching targets without changing their operational activities to achieve more than they’d previously done.
Without labouring the point, it’s clear to see that the business owner is asking the impossible. Most likely the only way the business achieves the desired results is either through luck, or because a competitor goes bust!
Success happens by design rather than luck, so here are some of the big marketing mistakes and in particular the attitude or thinking that’s usually behind them:
1) Marketing is an expense and we need to spend as little as we can.
When times are hard, such as the last recession that we are slowly moving out of, one of the first budgets to cut is marketing. This is either instigated by the accountant who generally knows nothing about marketing, or the business owner who obviously attended the same business school as the accountant.
So what should you do?
First of all you need to recognise that marketing is the engine that drives a business. It is the magnet that draws prospects into your sales funnel or creates the sale itself. By cutting your marketing budget you are effectively slowing down the entire process, when usually, in difficult times, you actually need to do more of it.
Adding more prospects into your sales funnel, provides a greater chance of more sales. Let’s take a simple example:
Your sales team convert an average of 5% of prospects into customers. If your current marketing creates 100 prospects per month, then on average you generate 5 sales. That’s easy to see.
But, what happens if your marketing activity is cut, and as a result your business only generates 50 prospects? Your business now has 2.5 sales per month rather than five (we’ll call it three as there’s no such thing as half a sale.) So it will take near enough two months to receive the same revenue you previously achieved in one month. Not good. And what if your business needs a minimum number of sales per month to break-even? In this scenario, cutting the marketing budget could ultimately mean the business moves from being profitable to making a loss.
Whilst this may seem obvious, sadly it’s an all too common situation for those businesses that simply cut their costs, without strategically thinking things through..
2) Marketing is a one shot deal.
Surprisingly, there are business owners who seriously believe that marketing is something that is done only once.
The truth is, you should be marketing to your target audience as often as you can. Why? Not everybody is ready to buy when they receive your marketing piece. Let’s use a simple example you’re familiar with.
You receive a brochure or letter in the post from a local car retailer. At the time, you’re not in the least interested in purchasing a new car. The letter or brochure is therefore dropped into the nearest bin.
Six months later you are ready to change your car. Now your radar for information on cars is switched on. You spend time investigating, visit a few retailers and possibly test drive a number of models until you settle on the car you believe meets your requirements.
Before you commit to a purchase, any marketing material you receive is more likely going to be read, investigated and retained. However, as soon as you sign on the dotted line, your radar light diminishes and your interest in new cars disappears. After this, any marketing material sent by post or emailed to you will be swiftly dismissed and once again placed in the bin.
This is a typical cycle with many products or services that we buy. If a business owner always acted under the belief that marketing was a one-time only activity, their chances of getting the timing right are almost non-existent and they will mostly likely go bust. How does a business expect to generate sales for the remainder of the year once the initial small percent of purchasers have responded to the one off or once-a-year marketing activity?
The truth is, nobody knows when your target audience is in buying mode unless they respond to a marketing piece. Therefore it is essential that there is a consistent, regular flow of marketing activity throughout the calendar year, to the same prospects in order to achieve the highest possible response.
Life is constantly changing and we cannot know what is happening in our prospects’ lives that may divert their attention away from purchasing goods or services from our business. This could be anything from having children, school life, holidays, illness, family matters, a promotion, redundancy. The list goes on…
With all of these unknown distractions, it’s important to recognise that a ‘nil’ response from a prospect may only be a “no, not today,” rather than “I’m not interested…ever!”
Your job as the marketer of your business is to test by sending something else to the same market and do it frequently enough that the prospect recognises your business name and associates you with providing what they want, when they want or need it. The more they see your name, the more they will trust you when the time is right to buy.
It’s said that a person needs to see your marketing a minimum of 9 times before they are ready to buy. Whilst there are always exceptions, it’s worth remembering this to help you create different approaches to finally capture their attention.
3) Me, me, me
Whenever I read sales letters or text on websites or brochures, it astounds me how poor the text is. The writer is obviously so busy telling us how good they or their company are that there is no thought to the reader at all. This is the equivalent of an old-style double glazing salesman stepping through your door, spending hours telling you how good their windows are, never shutting up long enough to understand what you really want.
Whenever a person reads a sales letter or any marketing text they read it with one thing in mind – ‘What’s In It For Them!‘ You see, prospects don’t necessarily care about your business or you. They want to know what your product or service does for them and whether it meets their needs. BIG difference!
The only time they may be interested to know that your business has been trading for 20 years is when they are deciding who to trust to purchase the product from. Up to that point, they need to be absolutely certain that your product or services meets or exceeds their current needs or wants.
To achieve this you need to understand how to write good sales copy and understand the reasons that people buy the product or service:
- What is their problem?
- How may this be affecting that person?
- Which aspects of the product or service may be particularly important to that person?
- How do they benefit by choosing one product or service over another?
- What do you offer that is slightly different to your competitors and may be considered advantageous to that prospect?
The list of questions could go on but I’m sure you understand that prospects buy for their reasons and your sales copy should reflect that rather than talk about your business.
There’s a simple exercise you can do which will really help you. Print out your sales letter or marketing text. With a coloured marker, highlight all reference to your business which will either be the words “I, we” or your company name. With a different coloured marker, highlight reference to your prospect or reader where the words are usually “you, your, you’re.”
When you have completed the exercise compare the number of references. Ideally, the weighting should be in favour of the prospect by a 2:1 ratio or more.
In this article I’ve highlighted just three of many marketing mistakes I see every day. If you are suffering from any of these then I urge you to change your thinking and your approach – once you do, you should find that you achieve better results.
Of course, there are so many other business growth, marketing and sales ideas for you to learn and you can discover more articles on these subjects within this Knowledge Centre.What happens if you cut your marketing activity, or you see it as a one shot deal? Click To Tweet