As small business owners, we pour our heart, sweat, and tears into our business. We strive to provide quality services and products to our customers because we want to create an exceptional experience for them. I see business owners creating valuable content, quality products, and delivering excellent customer service. Unfortunately, I also see them not converting leads into sales. Why is that?
In the years I have been helping these business owners deliver their products and services, I have discovered a common mistake among those services and products that are under-performing (or not performing at all). That mistake has made it to the top of my “Marketing No-No’s” list.
Build it – and they will come.
If you’ve seen Field of Dreams, you know what I’m talking about. If not – the (very short) premise is that a man hears a voice to build something – a baseball field – and people will come. All he has to do is build a baseball field and people will come from all over ( maybe some ghosts will too).
Unfortunately, this is reality and business does not work this way. To put it as bluntly and as sincerely as I can; no one is going to care about your business nearly as much as you do. No one is going to believe in it as much as you do. While you’re spending months and years perfecting your product, completely invested and obsessed (or is that just me?), please remember that no one else is going to spend that same amount of investment.
So, you spend your time and money on developing and perfecting a product/service. You then finally make it live. It’s on your website. Your shop is finally opened. And then crickets. You put a post up on Facebook and get a couple of likes, heck, maybe even a few comments. Still, no sales. No one is calling to book your service.
What. Is. Going. On? Don’t they see that the product you offer is quality? It’s far better than a competitor’s. You start thinking about re-pricing, re-designing your website, re-do your packaging, offer your services for free, etc. Pretty soon, you’re stuck in the rabbit-hole of panic, making impulsive, emotional decisions. Thus starts the long-road to either figuring it out or eventually giving up.
So, what was the actual mistake? Not marketing their product or service. It’s important to take REAL measurements of your marketing efforts. You’ll soon realize that while it FELT like you were doing nothing but living your business, very little of that was actual marketing. Sure, maybe you put up a couple of Facebook posts, invested some money in some ads, but overall, the marketing efforts in comparison to the rest of the effort put into your business, is very small.
Now, if this is you, don’t feel bad. I would venture to say that all business owners (including me) have done this. It’s important to remember that people need to be told about your product and service. They need to be told several times, actually. Consensus is around 7 “touches”. That means someone needs to see your ad, talk to you, talk to someone else, read an article – whatever, around seven times before they will buy your product.
If you’re just advertising on Facebook, let’s say you have a group of 200 people that have the potential of seeing your post, and only a small percentage of them actually see it – your chances of selling are even smaller – and then add on top of that the remaining amount of visibility you need to get that same person to purchase your product or service.
To make it easy, let’s take an e-mail list of 1000 people with the average open-rate of 2%. That is 20 people. If you sent out one broadcast, roughly 20 people would even open it and these are people who are most likely to buy from you. Chances of conversion are very low at this point still.
Now, this is where some advanced marketing techniques can come into play – tagging those who did open the email vs. those who did not, watching patterns, creating more tags and actions that are triggered by certain events. It’s all highly customisable. The important thing to remember is that you need visibility, consistency, and repetitiveness.
Write down all your marketing efforts. How many times did you actually advertise your website? How many ads did you really create? How long did you run an ad for? How much PR did you seek out or get? Download this worksheet to keep track!
I’ve done this for myself – and let me tell you what. I was lazy. I didn’t do nearly as much as I thought, and I love marketing!
There are a few common myths surrounding marketing that I’d like go over.
I don’t have money to do marketing.
That is just an excuse. You can do a ton of marketing for free. Marketing is a vital part of your business and if you ignore it and don’t budget for it, your business will fail. You can have the greatest product or service on the planet, but if no one knows about it or cares- you’re not going to sell anything. It’s really as simple as that.
How can I market my product/service with little to no budget?
Human beings are natural marketers. We love giving advice, telling our friends and family our experiences and opinions. We’re significantly more likely to buy a product that a friend or family member recommends. This is why gathering testimonials, especially video testimonials, is highly effective. If we can hear about this product from someone, just like us, we will feel a connection.
I have no clue how to do online marketing.
This is a legitimate concern, but is easy enough to learn the basics. At the end of the day, people need to hear about your business. Your business just needs to be visible and needs to have a clear, concise message.
I don’t want to deal with it – I don’t like marketing
If you want your business to thrive you need to invest in it. If it’s not something you want to personally put work into, then setting aside a budget for outsourcing that work is going to be the most beneficial to you. It’s okay to not like marketing. It can be confusing and maybe even boring. The most important thing you can do is realize that while it isn’t what you like, it’s a vital organ to your business and needs the same amount of attention as other parts of your business.
What steps can I take to market my product and/or service?
- The most effective thing you can do is take stock of what you are currently doing and make a marketing plan. It’s important to figure who you’re selling to, where those people will hear about you, what platforms are going to be most effective for your audience, and how much money/time you can invest into it. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What process do they go through when purchasing? What are they expecting? These answers are vital to creating an effective marketing strategy.
- Humans are all about connections, journeys, and storytelling. By creating content that tells a story or takes the customer on a journey, you can build the foundations of trust that is vital for them to eventually building a product. They need to know how this product or service is going to benefit them and make their lives better. This can be done by creating blog posts, social media posts, video content, and podcasts. This story can be conveyed in your mission statement and even in your “elevator pitch”.
- Another great way to market your business for free is by getting PR (public relations). This can be done through having a news article written about you, being interviewed for a publication or podcast, or having someone review your product or service. PR build familiarity and builds confidence. It is persuasive. There are a lot of different avenues to find PR opportunities. I always recommend creating press-release and media kits to send to potential leads. A well put-together package will be enticing for a publication or interviewer and will allow them to tell your story to others.
- Beat the streets! No one is going to come banging on your door begging you to take their money (although that sounds pretty nice, right?). You have to get out in front of people. Look into networking. Take people on coffee dates to talk about how they can help you. This doesn’t mean pitch your service, but instead ask if they know anyone that may need your help. They may have ideas and advice that could be incredibly beneficial. Build relationships. Those relationships will be one of the strongest marketing tools you can utilize later on.
- Contact everyone you know, old clients, current clients, family members, friends, acquaintances, schoolmates, and whoever else you know. Ask them if they know anyone who could use your help and that you’d appreciate if they gave your name out. You’ll get a lot of no’s (or hear nothing back) but even if you get a few people to help you, that free marketing and potential customers.
My last bit of advice to getting started is: be confident and sincere. No one else will believe in your product if you don’t. Be confident in what you are providing, which is more than just a product or service. It’s value. Show your customer why that investment (yes, investment) is beneficial and valuable. People aren’t dumb and they know when you are just seeing dollar signs. Treat your customers with respect and connect with them.
It’s never too late to start marketing, to change directions, or seek out help. The best thing you can do for your business is give your marketing the time, patience, and persistence it deserves.
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