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This post is one in a series of tips designed to guide small business owners through the challenges of today’s startup environment and is sponsored by Canon MAXIFY the printer lineup designed to help small business owners increase productivity so that they can focus on everything else that matters. For more information about the Canon MAXIFY printer lineup visitCanon MAXIFY?
The first time husband and I were in Las Vegas, we walked up to a slot machine, put in a dollar, pressed the button and?..NOTHING. That’s when I said ?THIS is why I hate gambling, you give it money, it gives you nothing. It’s very unsatisfying and I’m not willing to wait for the possibility of throwing my money at something on the CHANCE of winning.
Marketing is a lot like that slot machine. It shiny, it holds a lot of promise, but most entrepreneurs really don’t know what will happen until AFTER they put their money in and press the button.
That made me wonder. What are some of the things we’re doing DAILY that we think are marketing, but are sabotaging our ability to build and grow our business? So I thought I’d ask a few experts out there to share their experiences with what throws entrepreneurs into the bushes? and sabotages their marketing — and what to do about it.
I’ll get the party started with a marketing and profit saboteur ?that will free up time and money that you can use to boost your profits:
Getting marketing materials professionally printed, when you can do it yourself
Just to be clear, there are a few things you should absolutely have professionally printed such as your business cards, letterhead, envelopes,postcards, stationery. That said, here are some things that you should ABSOLUTELY print off of a desktop printer.
- Reports, report covers, spine inserts
- Name Tags
- Mailing labels
Yes — just about anything that you need quickly and in relatively small volumes can be printed off your desktop.
A few months ago, I received a Canon MAXIFY printer and have been blown away by the quality. I have to admit, it was hard for me to even tell you NOT to print your letterhead or stationery on a desktop because I actually DO. But that’s because this MAXIFY uses the latest technology and is absolutely INSANE on quality, speed and ink efficiency. My materials come out looking like they came of a 4-color press – and almost just as fast. Procrastinators rejoice, because if you forget to order business cards for a trip, you can absolutely create something amazing on the MAXIFY and be good to go in minutes.
Now, let’s hear from our small business owners and expert who have seen more than their share of time and money wasted on so-called marketing.
Blowing money on goofy and expensive branding initiatives.
Brand is communication. Small business branding is often code for a lot of BS from marketing consultants and ad agencies who are more interested in what’s in your wallet than what will grow your small business and make the phone ring! Brand is consistency. Brand is integrity. Brand is the ongoing recognition for a job consistently well done. Get busy working on THOSE things and your brand will take care of itself.
Insider?s Tip: Use index cards or sticky notes to list each item that’s important to your customer and then exactly how you solve that problem for them. Match the what’s important? to your service offer. Be sure to communicate this consistently and deliver consistently.
— David Newman, author of Do It! Marketing, www.doitmarketing.com
[Tweet “Brand is consistency. Brand is integrity. Brand is the ongoing recognition for a job consistently well done. @dnewman #MAXIFY “]
Getting caught up in the latest digital trend
One of the biggest problems I see is the bright, shiny object syndrome. When it comes to digital marketing, there is always something new and exciting to distract us.
Insider?s Tip: Choose your most profitable channel and focus on it for 30 days at a time.
BJ Smith (@bjsmithstrategy), Founder, The Busy Marketer
[Tweet “Better to do one thing really well than to do 10 things poorly. via @bjsmithstrategy #MAXIFY”]
Changing strategy without updating marketing
Our biggest problem with marketing is consistency. We’re a tiny team in the middle of a pivot, and putting out fires tends to take precedent over emailing our customers on a regular basis.
Insider?s Tip: Assign one person to the task rather than leaving it ad hoc. Invest in auto responders and schedulers that give you the flexibility to create great content and engage with our audience.
Not growing with customers
Be sure to evolve. As your customers grow, both your business and your marketing must do the same. It is necessary for you to invest in understanding the best way(s) to communicate with consumers and then execute accordingly.
Insider?s Tip: Focus on your ideal customers. Get into their world and understand what their goals are and then work with them to help them achieve them.
[Tweet “As your customers grow, both your business and your marketing must do the same @Mr_McFly #MAXIFY”]
Spending 80% of your time and money on low return opportunities
Say ‘NO’ often to create better marketing opportunities.
Insider?s Tip: Focus your marketing efforts around the ‘cash cows’ of your business. Spend 80% of time on these marketing channels and activities. Then, allocate 20% of your resources to innovation. Dig your biggest gold mines deep, and learn how to say ‘NO’ to other opportunities that can be too small and too time consuming.
Matthew Capala (@SearchDecoder) , Author and SEO expert, SearchDecoder.com
Spending time and money on web design without considering analytics
You may be wasting your marketing time and money if you are not looking at your data and analytics.
Insider?s Tip: Figure out your performance metrics, leverage tools such as Google Analytics, and start making data-driven decisions for your marketing efforts.
Matthew Capala (@SearchDecoder) , Author and SEO expert, SearchDecoder.com
[Tweet “Look at your analytics BEFORE you spend money on web design or content @SearchDecoder #MAXIFY”]
Overspending on content
You may be wasting marketing money if you are paying for content or spending too many hours writing content when you probably have enough material already in your trove of case studies and other website materials that can be re-purposed.
Insider?s Tip: Create a content calendar that focuses on a single theme each month. Break out that theme into topics for each week. Then repurpose that content into SlideShare presentations, ebooks, infographics, interviews, etc. This will keep you focused, help you rank in Google and keep your expenses low too.
Kathleen Murray (@mcmorranmurray), Founder and Owner, McMorran Strategist
Doing cost? activities during money-making time
How many times have you caught yourself doing activities that COST you money during prime ?revenue generating? time?
Insider?s Tip: Do your accounting, blog writing, and other marketing tasks in the evening. If your customers or prospects are at work that’s the time to be reaching out to them. Another visual tip is to mark days and hours where you are DOING money-making activities in green, and cost activities in red. That way you can see the ratio of revenue to cost.
[Tweet “Do work that costs you money during non-office, prime money-making time @BethGrangerSays #MAXIFY”]
Giving up too soon
Do not give up too early. Marketing does not work for a lot of businesses simply because they did not put in enough effort. “I tried this and it did not work” is a common excuse.
Insider?s Tip: Map out the journey your customer will take to the sale. Start with the end and then work backwards or start from the ?trigger? of when your customer starts thinking about buying what you’re selling and work forwards. No matter where you start from always ask yourself — What does my customer need to know that will make me the obvious choice?
Asking for the sale when you should be giving value
Amateur marketers or small business owners almost always make the same fatal mistake: selling too soon! Brands have to offer value upon value upon value to their potential consumers before making the ?sell,? especially with digital marketing.
Insider?s Tip: Have an email list? Send 10 emails offering advice or tips before you send 1 asking for a purchase. On Facebook? Post 6 days a week with links your fans will enjoy before asking them to do 1 thing for you. Give more than you take, because consumers can tell the difference.
Mailing to a dead or unresponsive mailing list ?
It’s not about how many people you have on your list, it’s about how engaged they are. If you’re emailing or mailing to a non-responsive list, you are wasting time and money.
Insider?s Tip: Get rid of the non responders. Get rid of them by running them through a sequence and only market to the ones that you are engaging with. They also don’t know who their ideal customer is and what to sell to them.
Jennifer Cox, President NNEP
Looking for love in all the wrong places
Are you still networking in the same old places because it’s comfortable? Here’s a way to jump-start referrals.
Insiders TIp: Introduce yourself by focusing on how you solve your customers? problems. Go to four new networking events every quarter until you find one where you are getting regular referrals and new business.
Norma Rist (@ristlist), President of Norma J. Rist CEOConsulting, Inc. (WomenOwnersDaily.com)
Not paying attention to recurring costs
Most small business owners will invest time and money in tools and consultants to help them in their business. But, if you don’t make time to actively work with outside consultants and providers, or learn to use the subscription tools you pay for, you just end up wasting money and being disappointed with the results.
Insider?s Tip: Focus on one strategic goal for a quarter and dedicate yourself to setting this up for success. Schedule a meeting at least once every ten days to keep yourself and your team focused on the goal.
Anita Campbell (@SmallBizTrends), CEO of Small Business Trends
Expecting advertising to generate a lot of sales by throwing a little money at it.
No wonder you think marketing is a waste, like most machines, you have to know how to operate it. Take advertising for example, just throwing money at advertising won?t really work, you have to Don’t just take the sales rep?s word for it.
Insider?s Tip: Calculate your A/S ratio. The A/S (Advertising to Sales) ratio is a broad strokes guide to what you should budget given PROJECTED sales. It allows you to plan and benchmark competition and the industry. A high ratio means the ad didn’t generate a lot of sales and a low ratio means your ad campaign generated sales. Remember, you have to spend money to make money. Expecting large increases in sales but then having trepidation over spending on digital marketing is crazy.
— Melissa Fisher, Growth Strategist, Fisher4Marketing LLC: http://fisher4marketing.com/
Simplicity Opens You Up for Growth and Profitability
If you’re like me, you’ve probably done all of these at one point or another. You have to ask yourself where it’s coming from. Rather than have you struggle with it, I’m going to tell you that doing MORE marketing thinking you’re going to get MORE customers is a LIE. The secret to successful marketing is doing LESS.
Do you have any Do Less Marketing and Make More Money? tips — share them!
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Canon will be spotlighting several small business owners on its social media channels throughout the next several months, so be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts on this post using the hashtag #MAXIFY in order to qualify. If you are a U.S.-based small business owner (1-9 employees) and have faced a unique business challenge in your first year on the job, let us know! We’d love to hear what line of work your small business falls within and what you feel is the most important takeaway from this post. We’ll also be rewarding select small business owners with a prize pack including the Canon MAXIFY MB5320 printer as well as other essentials to help you run your business more efficiently. So don’t forget to leave a link to your website or social media pages that way we can see how well you’re marketing your business and get in touch!