Five Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make Which Keeps them at a Competitive Disadvantage
How avoiding these mistakes will help you to differentiate yourself from your competitors, build a reputation as the expert in your area, get better margins and grow faster
By: Mitchell Zucker
Act like a salesperson and you’ll be treated like one!!!
I have seen this over and over again in my career and have actually worked for companies which train on exactly how to be treated like a salesperson.
They will recommend calling a prospect and asking permission to talk to them. Something like: “Hi, how are you today, It’s Mitch Zucker, do you have a minute???” Or, “Hi, it’s Mitch Zucker, have I caught you at a good time??”
In most cases the answer is of course “No, try me back another time.” Click….
It’s the exact same when a secretary/administrative person answers. Most people are trained to say something like “Hi it’s Mitch Zucker, is Pete Theboss available?” What’s the typical response here? “No he’s not available, may I take a message?” or “What is this in reference to?”
By using this wimpy approach, you are giving the prospect the opportunity to shut you down before you ever get a chance to say why you’re calling or how you can help them. The entire approach just screams SALES CALL.
Whether you own the business or are a salesperson, you need to put yourself on equal footing with whomever you are calling. Do not give them the opportunity to take control. You must be the one in control. Your prospects will respect you more if you let them know that your time is just as valuable as theirs is and give them a great reason to stay on the line with you.
While working for a major marketing consultant and dealing with business owners all day every day, our inbound telephone call script never even used the word “Hello”. We identified the company name, our name, asked for their name and got down to business.
We immediately put ourselves in a position of authority and not just some phone peon.
Sounding just like your competitors
I was recently consulting for a company and what they were most proud of with there new company and what they felt differentiated them from their competition was that they “have a lot of experience, offer personalized customer service and they make the process easy. “
Yeah, I’m sure their competitors are calling and saying, “Hey we’re brand new, we have no idea what we’re doing, our customer service stinks and working with us is really difficult!!”
Virtually every business, big or small, which I encounter seems to have a similar approach. That they’re:
- Will save you time
- Make you money
- Have great customer service
- Blah, blah, blah….
You need to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
I’ve always believed in an education based marketing approach to differentiate myself. I remember in the early 1990’s while working for a major publisher who was migrating from a print publishing format and was starting to add CD delivery of their information. Computers in offices were just starting to be used and frankly most people weren’t all that good with navigating around these new tools. So I went around to my clients and prospects offering them 10 Tips on Using The Computer. These tips had nothing to do with the services I offered. They were general tips which anyone could use to learn how to do common tasks on their new computers.
This offer of free and valuable information got me in the door, built respect and rapport, and earned me the right to then discuss why they should consider the products/services I was selling.
You should create something similar. The approach of calling people to introduce yourself and your company by stating how you’ve helped many people just like them and will save them time and money is stale and weak.
Bottom line is that you will attract people much more quickly and in much greater numbers by offering to teach them something of value to themselves rather than just trying to sell them something!!!
Not Building TOMA
TOMA you ask?? TOP OF MIND AWARENESS.
It wasn’t that long ago that growing a company was fairly easy. Business was booming for everyone and there was plenty of room for more companies and more competitors. That just simply isn’t the case anymore. Markets are shrinking. Companies are scared to part with their money. Competition is intense for the few companies willing to do business and spend some money.
The way to avoid being crushed by your competitors is to be the one doing the crushing. Be THE definitive expert in your field. Be THE go to authority. Be everywhere that your clients and prospects are likely to be found. BUILD TOMA!!
Whenever your clients/prospects turn around they need to bump into you. They need to know that YOU are the person in the industry that they NEED to do business with. For a great way to accomplish this click here.
Piece of cake right?? Actually, it’s really not that difficult if you’re committed to taking regular action and spending time on this regularly. You need to be devoted to marketing yourself and your business. This requires you to attend local functions within your local area, perhaps via the local Chamber of Commerce, networking groups, or similar organizations.
When I worked for a major publisher of tax information, I used to attend virtually every meeting sponsored by the state CPA Society. Whether the meeting was tax related or not. If there was a bunch of accountants somewhere, I wanted to be in the room also.
We all know that to compete nowadays, you MUST have a web presence including social marketing sites. The problem with most companies is that they may create these sites, but they don’t actively “work” them and get the most out of them.
Without ever leaving your office you can network with a wide variety of people. You can make excellent contacts and create wonderful relationships. It’s really just about PARTICIPATING. I recently had a situation where I was working for a company and helping them to enhance their web presence and social networking. I created a blog, and LinkedIn and FaceBook pages. Within just a few weeks, I was driving massive traffic between all of these different pages and generating interest in what I had to offer.
Simply because I participated. I joined LinkedIn groups and PARTICIPATED in the conversations. I posted Polls and made many new contacts. In one of the groups, which has over 2,200 members, within a week I was one of the top contributors. In another, the editor of a magazine liked one of my posts and wanted to do an article on me.
Margins are too low
This one is totally your fault. Your margins are too low because you allow them to be. You have likely made the previous mistakes in this report and are therefore fighting for business at the bottom of the lake with the other bottom feeders. If you want to compete on price, you will always have margins that are too low and customers rather than clients as there will always be some other company willing to do the work for even less. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN!!
Customer Vs. Client: a customer is someone who just once or occasionally buys from you. A client is someone who comes to you over and over again and with whom you have a relationship.
If you want to increase your margins you have to give your clients a reason to spend more for your expertise. You have to create an aura around you that YOU are the important one and that it would benefit them to work with you; and not the other way around.
One of the best ways to build an atmosphere of expertise is by using the written word.
There are many ways to do this. You can write a book; author a great blog; offer to write articles for free in your local newspaper; submit articles to industry magazines; create a monthly newsletter and the list goes on.
If you show or give away your book to a prospect or show them your articles from a newspaper or magazine, you will instantly be looked at in a different way.
Another way is to offer free training sessions on your area of expertise. At your business location or even at a hotel or some other meeting place have a regularly scheduled free meeting where you share your expertise with others. For instance, if you are a hair stylist, offer a monthly free session on how to best take care of hair. CPA?? Offer a regular class on taxes, bookkeeping, financing options, etc. Real estate agent?? Offer a class on how to get the most money when selling your home or how to get your dream house for much less.
Get the idea?? You can also tie some of these ideas together. Write a free report or book on a topic and then give live sessions to deliver the content and answer questions.
These are inexpensive yet extremely powerful ways to grow your business faster and easier and to get higher margins.