Some of marketing is trial and error. As our business evolves, we try different ways to sell more or diversify the kind of clients we have. Here are a few things that we overlook sometimes. They can mean the difference between successful marketing and the frustration that comes from not getting the results you want.
Blunder #1 – Having no idea about what’s happening in your business, from a marketing point of view.
Do you know how much money you’re spending on marketing? And what percentage of your total income is spent on marketing? How many customers do you have? How many magazines have you advertised in during the past year? If you don’t have the answers to these questions at your fingertips, then you may be unaware of what your business is actually doing, as far as marketing goes.
If this is you, then it is time to figure out what marketing ideas you have tried this past year and how much money you spent. Research means knowledge. And knowledge is power.
Blunder #2 – Having no clear or attainable goals.
Not having any goals, or having goals that are vague or simply unreachable is a common mistake.
Have you set your marketing and recruitment goals for this year yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Writing down your goals and sharing them with your support staff and teachers can be an excellent motivation to help you reach them. To simply say, “We need more sales” won’t do it. You want to be clear and specific.
Saying, “We will increase sales by 1000% this fiscal year” may put unreasonable expectations on you and your business. Or you may give up because it’s more of a dream than a goal.
If you say, “We intend to increase our sales by 10%, and that includes diversifying by having more customers from (insert the name of a city, country or industry here)”, then that’s an excellent goal, because it is both specific and attainable. Check out an earlier post I wrote on Setting Reasonable Goals.
Blunder #3 – Not tracking your marketing efforts.
It’s important to remember that marketing is a process and you need to monitor and track your results on a regular basis. If you advertise in a magazine, then it’s helpful to keep track of how many responses you get to your ad. This can include inquiries you get about your business. It is part of the tracking process.
It’s worth it to give a new marketing effort at least 6 months before you expect to see a return. In some cases, it may be more. But if you’ve been advertising in the same community newspaper for the past 8 years and you’ve never had a response to your ad, drop the ad and use that marketing money elsewhere.
Blunder #4 – Not tracking how your marketing efforts relate to your sales.
When you examine how your marketing efforts relate to your sales be sure to look at the whole picture. Ultimately, you want to see that your marketing activities impact your “bottom line” in a positive way. Marketing really involves a combination of activities that include advertising, networking, branding, etc. Together, they should impact your sales. If, when you examine your marketing efforts, you see something that doesn’t increase your sales and also doesn’t help you in developing professional relationships or branding your business, you may want to consider dropping it and trying something else.
Blunder #5 – Thinking that you have to do it alone.
Even if you are a one-person business, you are never alone in the business world. Call upon your network of graphic artists, web designers, and other professionals to help you. One of the most valuable activities you can undertake in marketing is to develop trusting relationships with people who can help you. Of course, you don’t want to give away all your secrets, but if you can have someone to talk to who also understands the industry and the challenges you face then you may be able to help each other succeed.
If you are lucky enough to have staff, they can also help you market your business. Ask for ideas and advice. More often than not, people feel important when you ask for their opinion. They’ll usually be happy to share their ideas and input with you.
I have met many marketers who feel isolated and alone in their jobs. Their frustration leads to decreased productivity and general unhappiness. If you think you have to do it alone, then you’re doomed to feel disempowered. Join a local business club or two. Go to networking events on a regular basis. Stay in touch with others who are like-minded and success-oriented. When you know you have support, you can focus on what needs to be done to get the results you want.
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.