Networking, cold calling, email blasting, blogging … Given the array of paths and possibilities for marketing a small business, it’s no wonder why so many entrepreneurs keep working hard, spending money, and waiting in vain for results. In his book, Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition, marketing coach David Newman calls attention to many different things small business marketers do, with diligence, but shouldn’t — and tells them what they should be doing instead. Here are six of his marketing must Don’ts and Do Its!
Don’t tell customers how great you are.
“We have great service. We offer great value. Stop in for a great selection.” Sounds great? Not to customers. What customers hear is: “Blah-blah-blah. That’s a whole lotta you. Where’s the stuff about me?” Newman’s point: “Good marketing is not about your business! It’s about how your business is different, valuable, and meaningful to customers.”
Do It! Clearly convey what makes your business the only choice for your chosen customers. For starters, give yourself the So-What? Test. Take a look at each of your marketing statements in your ads, in your brochures, and on your website. For each statement, can you come up with a compelling value-based answer to the question, “So what?”
Don’t fall into the marketing-speak trap.
It’s tempting to pad your marketing messages with exaggerated claims, empty promises, impressive-sounding but mind-boggling jargon, and catchy but meaningless phrases. Resist! Don’t follow the crowd. If you want to be taken seriously by customers, gain their trust, and earn their respect, stop talking marketing-speak!
Do It! Learn to speak a new profit-rich dialect: Prospect. Gathering authentic client language begins with research and homework. Scour the Internet for the latest industry and regional news, verbatim quotes, video clips, and audio interviews. Then go directly to the source – your real live customers. Hang out in their world and get comfortable with their priorities, issues, pressure, and challenges.
Don’t waste your time networking with strangers
“Everybody knows that you build a business by networking.” Sounds familiar? Yes, sadly, to those tirelessly dedicated to – and worn out from – working the miniature wiener circuit. The truth? Networking with strangers to build a business is about as effective as cold calling.
Do It! Start networking smarter and smaller. “Network by having coffee or lunch with people one on one,” Newman advises. “Get to know them and their business. They may become a prospect, an alliance partner, or a referral source. But aim first and foremost to make them a friend. The rest will follow naturally.”
Don’t waste your time following up.
“If you don’t follow up five to seven times, you’ll lose the sale.” “The fortune is in the follow-up.” That’s what you’ve read, again and again. So even though you hate making phone call after phone call – and hate feeling tired, frustrated and depressed – you force yourself to persist in following up. The good news? “This advice is nonsense,” says Newman. “If you’re focused exclusively on prospects who are actively seeking to solve the problem you’re positioned to solve, you’ll get their attention on the first or second attempt.”
Do It! Craft a no-follow-up sales letter. Zero in on the right prospects. Position yourself as the right expert. Back up your claim with powerful testimonials. Close with the conviction that they’ll call you.
Don’t dumb it down for social media.
It’s a common fear among those venturing into social media marketing. If you give away your best insights, strategies, or tools — the “secret sauce” in the products or services that people pay you for — you will diminish the demand for them. So, you post a second-rate article, a spec sheet with a missing bullet, or a video with only three of your 10 key ideas. What happens? You look dumb and lose potential customers.
Do It! Take stock of everything you give your customers when they buy from you. Select one item of stand-alone value — a sample, a checklist, a worksheet, a gift — and start giving it away for free. What happens? Newman bets prospects will say, “Wow! If they’re giving this kind of value away for free, imagine how much more you would get if you became a customer!”
Don’t put all your faith in passion.
“Passion is the fuel of innovation, business and success.” Sounds inspiring? Yes, Indeed. “Too bad it’s a big old, rags-to-riches style myth. “Passion is necessary but not sufficient,” Newman stresses. In his experience, people who have an attitude that failure is not an option have a higher failure rate than people who have a more realistic outlook.
Do It! Plan for failure. Be passionate about what you do, but develop a really strong plan B … and plan C and plans D, E, and F, too. “The more you think through failure, think ahead of failure, and think beyond failure, the better your chances are for success,” Newman assures.
Adapted from Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition by David Newman.