History has proved that most business failures can be attributed to a number of fundamental marketing and public relations mistakes. The challenge of starting, growing and sustaining a business has never been greater.
The great news is that the formula for business and public relations success transcends time and remains unchanged. These are 7 marketing mistakes all businesses should avoid and public relations advisers should be particularly mindful of:
Mistake #1: Failure to clearly define your target market
The failure to do a laser definition of the core target audience is one of the most common mistakes most entrepreneurs make (especially at the beginning)
Everything starts, ends, and revolves around your ideal client ‒ your marketing, messaging, offers, conversion system, delivery mechanism… everything.
If you don’t know who your target market is, it’s very difficult to develop the right marketing and public relations strategy that will effortlessly reach, resonate and convert them. If you haven’t clearly defined who that ideal client and target market is, you’re throwing darts in the dark, blindfolded, while spinning in circles… just hoping to hit the target.
You want to be so in tune with your ideal audience that they might wonder if you’re reading their mind.
Mistake #2: You’re not actively generating leads
Not actively going out and engaging with potential clients is another common mistake many entrepreneurs make. Leads are the lifeblood of any business… and without them, you won’t remain in business for long.
Once you’ve identified your specific ideal target audience and you’ve discovered what makes your product or service unique (your USP), the next step is to actively generate interest (leads).
Some tested ways to generate leads (specifically for online businesses) are:
- Run paid ads (Facebook, Google, YouTube, Bing, etc.)
- Cold calling and direct mail shot
- Be active in Groups or Communities (like Facebook groups, BNI, Meetups, etc)
- Leverage other people’s audiences (through guest blogging, email swaps, interviews, podcasts, partnerships/JVs, affiliates, etc.)
You need to find the one that works best for you and your business and focus on that one channel until you have it dialed in.
Mistake #3: You don’t have a USP
In a fiercely competitive marketplace , you have to find a way to stand out. You do this with your USP! What’s a USP?
A USP is your “unique selling proposition”, or in layman’s terms, it’s what makes your business unique and valuable. Your USP could be a unique process, solution, offer, angle, etc.
Your USP conveys to the market why you are different from your competitors, and why they should be doing business with you, instead of all their other options.
The consumer has more choices today than at any other time in history. Until you sit down and map out who you are, why you’re different, and why anyone should care, it’s going to be a constant struggle to bring on new customers, and just as hard to keep them coming back.
Keep asking yourself, “What problem do I solve and what value do I bring to the market?”
Mistake #4: You go straight for the sale
No one likes a bully. No one likes a pushy salesman. Everyone loves to buy, but nobody wants to be sold.
So why is it that most businesses push for a sale as soon as they get a potential customer in the door and then never reach out again?
Even people who have embraced the wisdom of direct response marketing and lead generation tend to try to push their product as soon as someone clicks on their ad, calls the shop, joins the email list, or happens to stop by.
Whatever happened to building a relationship and providing value first? Customers want to be charmed, educated, and even entertained a little. That’s not to say it has to take months, weeks, or even days.
The point is to lead with value.
Mistake #5: Ignoring the rule of 7
Did you know that the average prospect needs to see your marketing and public relations message at least seven times before they’ll buy? It’s true.
In marketing circles, this is known as the Rule of Seven. But new research suggests that as much as 80% of sales happen between the 5th and 12th contact between you and your prospective clients.
You can automate postcards to go out to them at set intervals after their first contact with you, to follow up on the quality of their first purchase, or encourage repeat business.
You can even schedule thank you’s or birthday cards to remind people about your business and make them a special offer. The bottom line is that most businesses are letting a whole lot of sales slip away because they don’t understand what their customer wants from the sales process.
Mistake #6: You don’t know the average Lifetime Value (LTV) of your clients
The three most important metrics every business needs to know are:
- How many leads you’re getting
- What percentage of leads convert into clients
- And what the average client is worth to your business
And that’s the real issue: most business owners don’t understand what client lifetime value is and what it means. Once you know what a client is worth to you over the course of your relationship with them, you can start to reverse engineer how much money and time you can afford to spend to acquire new clients and still make a profit.
Referrals just don’t grow on trees, though, which leads us to the last – and possibly most damaging – marketing mistake that many businesses and PR practitioners are making
Mistake # 7: Assuming your work will speak for itself
Almost every business owner has engaged in this dangerous fantasy at one point or another.
Sitting around waiting for clients to come is like gambling and wishful thinking combined. You have to start thinking strategically about how many clients you need, and how you’re going to get them.
Did you know that 90% percent of new businesses fail within the first five years they’re in operation? At ten years, that number gets closer to 99% percent. And here’s the scariest part: those numbers were compiled before the global recession had even started. Who knows what the failure rate would be in five years?
But it’s not all bad news: the internet and smart marketing strategies have made it easier than ever to reach your target market, provide massive value, continually follow up and nurture prospects, and trumpet your uniqueness.
The mother of all PR mistakes
These seven marketing mistakes listed above are some of the biggest reasons entrepreneurs fail or give up.
Business and PR professional must also always remember one of the greatest mistakes of all, and a silent killer – Not delivering what you promised.
Avoid these marketing and public relations mistakes, and you are likely to live happily ever after.