Mistake No. 3 – Not Understanding or Getting to Grips with Marketing
Other than mastering the complexities and tricks of the trade of your own trade or profession, there are really only two key business skills you need to master to get on in business, one being an understanding of finance/financial systems and the other, getting to grips with marketing.
Marketing is certainly not advertising, as many business owners think, and it goes way beyond the dictionary definition. In a way everything you do in your business (assuming that you do it right) is a contribution towards marketing and your whole business ethos and culture must be designed and orientated with marketing right at the forefront. It is not something that you can delegate, and no matter how busy you are, you must find sufficient time to invest in marketing activities for the sake of the future of your business.
Right from the start you must come up with the answers to three key marketing questions:
- Why should a customer use you and not a competitor?
- Who is your ideal customer?
- How do they find you?
These questions are absolutely pivotal to the very success of your business, and if you work through these and find cost-effective answers your sales funnel (see keeping-your-sales-funnel-topped-up/) will always be overflowing!
Effective marketing involves a large number of activities, some background e.g. website, leaflet, FAQ, testimonials, or case studies, and some specific campaigns e.g. joint-venture, ideal customer, or referral strategies. Some will work, others will not, but bit by bit, if you put enough effort into it, it will pay off. Your marketing will also be a lot more successful if you build in some simple systems e.g. a referral system might be:
- A new customer or client is always asked where they heard about the business and recorded on a register of referrals or similar.
- Recognition is then given to the referrer, whether a thank you card, or ‘phone call or a letter prepared from a template.
- If appropriate, a reward is then given to the referrer, whether a small gift, lunch or a return referral.
It doesn’t matter how long established your business is or how many customers or clients you have, customers die, move away, lose interest or just stop buying, so if you can’t sell yourself or your business you have a real problem. Many marketing activities are free or very low-cost, so get out there and get going, before your competitors do!