For many business owners, October marks the launch of year-end marketing initiatives designed at capitalizing on the holiday season. Halloween, Black Friday, Christmas, New Years… all great events that make for interesting promo opportunities to attract new customers. However, before you go spending thousands of dollars on your commercial spots, mailers, digital campaigns, and more, be sure to review this list of the 10 Biggest Marketing Mistakes businesses make:
Mistake #1: Not capping the dollar amount you’re willing to spend to bring people in the door.
Small business owners typically buy advertisements based on gut feelings, and then pray for the best– and that’s generally why ad salespeople love to call them about new opportunities week in and week out! They know as long as the ads they sell deliver something, anything, the small business owners are probably going to keep paying for them. In other words, they capitalize on their clients’ general lack of knowledge of how to judge the effectiveness of marketing.
However, professional marketing agencies approach advertising more scientifically– and so should you. When an agency works with a client to buy advertising, they begin by calculating the projected revenue a new customer will generate (Lifetime Value or LTV). Next, they forecast the amount required to generate that new customer (Cost Per Acquisition or CPA) and the overall return on investment (ROI) should they be able to acquire customers at that cost.
For example, if a new customer spends $1,000 on average over the course of their relationship with you (your LTV), the marketing agency would suggest you allocate a percentage of that amount to market to the new customer to get them in the door (your CPA). Let’s say that percentage is 10%, or $100. If the agency can find you new customers for $100 each, that means you profited $900, which equals an ROI of 900%! Who wouldn’t want to generate that kind of return on investment?
That’s exactly how you should be analyzing your own marketing strategy, if you are indeed marketing on your own. What’s great about thinking in these terms is it allows you to clearly judge what’s working and what’s not. If an advertisement is bringing in new customers for less than your targeted CPA, it’s working great. If not, the ad either needs to be optimized to convert better, or it needs to be eliminated altogether. So take the time now to determine your targeted LTV’s, CPA’s and ROI’s. Doing so immediately makes you a more intelligent and powerful marketer.
Mistake #2: Failing to limit the amount of new customers you’ll take on.
While most business owners think they just want to attract as many new customers as humanly possible, the truth is that can be a recipe for disaster. In today’s social media driven world, the way you handle each and every customer is more important than the volume of customers you work with.
That’s why you want to attract the ‘right’ customers for your business, not just a whole lot of customers. Attracting too many and servicing them all poorly could end up producing a 2 or 3-star rating in Yelp, Google, etc.– and no business can afford that kind of negative feedback easily found on the web.
So take the time up front to pinpoint your ideal customer, and estimate the amount of them you can properly handle. Then gear your marketing around finding those exact customers. You want each of them to become a raving fan of your business (and refer others, which allows you to grow without having to increase your marketing budget!).
Mistake #3: Limiting the ways people can reach you.
In today’s mobile-first world, potential customers want to engage with you in the manner they are most comfortable– many will call, others will fill out the form on your website, some will send you an email, etc. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to offer prospects a wide array of communication channels instead of limiting them to just one.
Offering only one way to contact you may be what’s easiest for you, but it’s certainly not what’s best for your customer– and definitely not what’s best for your bottom-line. So make it clear on your promotional materials that interested parties can reach you via the phone, your website, social media outlets, and more.
Mistake #4: Not being available around-the-clock.
You’ve worked hard to get the prospect’s attention, they’re ready to engage, they pick up the phone and… BAM! They get your voicemail box. Ughhh. It’s the kiss of death for any marketing campaign (and business for that matter). In fact, Forbes reports that 80% of callers will hang-up on voicemail.
Therefore, as a business owner you need to commit to answering the phone live, always. No matter the time of day. InsideSales reports that 35-50% of people will choose the vendor that responds first. So working with an answering service ensures you never miss revenue producing opportunities. If you need help with that, give YesTrak a try. We’re revolutionary, and we’d love to answer calls for you– and you only pay for what you use! It’s a no-brainer.
Mistake #5: Untrained phone handlers.
As the owners of MyDoctorCalls, a call tracking and recording system for doctor’s offices, we have listened to thousands of calls between prospects and front-desk staff members. We are always amazed at the amount of phone calls that get blown because staff members aren’t aware of existing offers, have no clue how to answer questions, and fail to demonstrate empathy to callers.
It’s not the staff members’ fault– it’s the business owners’ fault for not implementing proper phone training. The results are devastating: blown conversions, wasted marketing dollars, negative reviews posted, and more. So start role-playing with your team members, implement call recording, and get your staff ready to go on the phones so that each call received has the highest chance of being successful.
Mistake #6: Not using an appointment reminder strategy to avoid cancellations.
Just because someone has viewed your ad and booked with you over the phone or online, don’t assume they will actually show up for their first appointment! All businesses deal with cancellations, which is why it’s important to implement systems that reduce cancellation rates.
Appointment reminders, email drips, and pre-appointment phone calls are all great ways to reduce no-shows. So play around with different strategies to ensure prospects actually arrive for their first appointments– and track your cancellation rates over time to see what’s working and what’s not.
Be diligent. A cancellation doesn’t just cost you the revenues generated from that first appointment, it takes away all of the future revenues you would have generated throughout the lifetime of the relationship. So pay close attention to your no-show rates, and work hard to reduce them at all costs.
Mistake #7: Not having a plan to convert the leads that don’t immediately book.
While you would love for every call from an advertisement to lead to a booked appointment, an order placed, etc., unfortunately, that’s just not realistic. Instead, a good percentage of interested people will need more time to think it over. So what’s your plan for keeping in touch with those prospects? Do you have a contact management system in place to stay front of mind? And what are you saying and sending to those prospects to keep them interested in what you have to offer?
As the old saying goes, successful selling is like a good golf swing– it’s all about the follow-through! That’s why it’s critical you have a detailed plan for keeping in touch with each and every person that contacts you. Add them to your eNewsletter, send them pertinent content on a regular basis, call them on occasion to say hello, and more. Customers buy when they are ready, and when their need is greatest. So make sure they see and hear your name often so that when the time is right, you are one call or click away.
Mistake #8: No strategy developed for converting free or promo customers into regulars.
Most advertisements contain some sort of free trial or special offer. Therefore, you will need to have a strategy in place for converting those promotional customers into regular, paying customers. Otherwise, your LTV’s won’t be very high, and the overall effectiveness of your marketing will be diminished.
The key to converting promotional customers is your WOW factor. What do you do that immediately differentiates you from everyone else? And why is it so great that customers just can’t live without you after experiencing it for the first time? Those are the questions you need to answer for your customers during their first experience with you.
Make sure your team understands that free or promo customers are different, and they are in a ‘trial’ period initially. Therefore, it’s everyone’s responsibility to impress new customers– not just the stakeholders of the business. With thousands of marketing dollars on the line, you cannot afford to have customers leave once their free trial or special offer is over.
Mistake #9: Failing to generate immediate referrals from your new customers.
Significant growth happens when your paid marketing generates new customers, and then those customers turn right around and refer others (which doesn’t cost you a thing).
Customers that are referred not only convert better, but they make you more money. Did you know that people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend? (Source: Nielsen) Or that the LTV of a referred customer is 16% higher than everyone else? (Source: Wharton School of Business)
That’s why you want to start asking for referrals from your new customers right away, at the beginning of the relationship. Collect names and numbers, and follow up on your referrals immediately. You will be surprised at how excited people are to rave about your products and services before ever utilizing themselves.
Mistake #10: Failing to implement tracking systems.
Legendary writer, professor, and management consultant, Peter Drucker, once said, “What get’s measured, gets managed.” We couldn’t agree more! Spending money on marketing without having the proper tracking systems in place is dangerous business.
There are lots of ways to track so that you can properly manage your marketing campaigns: unique phone numbers in ads, analytics on web pages, different coupon codes in marketing materials, etc. Don’t make the mistake of just asking people where they found out about you– many won’t know, and your staff will do a poor job of ascertaining the information. Furthermore, your new prospects will think you are more interested in tracking your marketing than you are about helping them solve problems.
Take the time up front to plan out your tracking strategy. Once your ads are launched, it will be too late. So don’t make the costly mistake of putting the same phone numbers in every ad, or leaving out the necessary bits of analytics code on your web pages. Track everything, and you will save thousands of dollars in wasted ad spends.