“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” -Peter F. Drucker
Marketing is easier – or harder – than you think, depending on how you do it. Standing on the shoulders of giants is a great quote, but doesn’t always translate well to small business marketing. If you’re not willing to do some homework to customize your approach, chances are you’ll find yourself frustrated.
Reconsider advice from self-proclaimed gurus
If you’re sold on a strategy to mimic what others are claiming made them millions, you may want to reconsider. Some are honest, many are timely and others are just plain hucksters. Beware or swagger. Most true success stories (and good leaders, for that matter) share without boasting. Regardless, what worked for someone else isn’t guaranteed to work for you or your prospects or your clients. Think carefully if your plan includes the following:
- Offering freebies thinking you’re going to convert the “gimme more” crowd into buyers simply because they land on your list. A small sample of great makes sense but the way most are using it to build their lists doesn’t work for most niche businesses. If you’re selling cookies, go for it. Non-fiction horse titles – think again.
- Sell hard every time you communicate with your followers. This includes blog posts (call to action mandates aside – do you really think your readers are that dumb?), social media, speeches, articles and anything else where you’re putting yourself out there. Sell soft or indirectly. Those who are interested will figure out what you do and sell.
- Spam your lists with weekly (or daily) affiliate offers. Do you really want to lose your credibility by coming off as the “used car salesman” of former days? Sure, some are boasting great sums (long-term proof, please), but does that really feel right to you? If you’re not confident enough with your created wares, find something better that puffs your passion.
- Faking it. If you’re not real (nor credible about your knowledge claims), people will know sooner or later. Go with your strengths and let go of the fads.
- Send “oops” messages as an excuse for more visibility. Are you kidding me? You want to earn trust by claiming you caught an error five seconds after your first “bad link” message. Unsubscribe me.
- Offering $300 or $3000 in free products as an inducement to buy. OK, I get infomercials have a proven successful method . . . “But, wait . . . “. Still, is sleazy satisfying to you? Those you’re likely to hook may not be the smart, motivated clients you seek.
Get real for better small business marketing results
- Expect to be paid for your time (or products that require time to create). Sure, you’ll convert some who sign up for your free offer, but most don’t convert to buyers. For decades I’ve offered discounted recommendations and strategies reports (I’m quick on my feet and can ask questions that lead to solution extemporaneously – that may not work for you) instead of the marketing/advertising/PR industry norm of a free proposal. People value what they pay for and continue the relationship to see a return. Not so much with free proposals or sign-up gimmicks.
- Give people something that grabs them. You shouldn’t have to close hard if what you offer helps a prospect solve a problem. Quick credibility (wow, that worked) leads to happy customers and referral agents a lot more quickly than bullying a buy.
- Show what you know. This whole idea of offering “to be continued at a price” is manipulative and annoying. If you’re going to start an idea, finish it without a buy button. Putting your best stuff forward is smart. If you don’t see this, write a sales letter, a landing page or an ad that’s honest. Savvy answers to burning questions lead to sales naturally.
- Use 90% of the messages you send out to your list to offer ideas for quick results. They’ll appreciate the 10% that tells them how to use you to get there faster. This may sound contradictory to point one, but marketing costs either time or money. If you choose the former you need to provide people with a reason to consider you as an ideal resource.
- Make sure you have personal experience using what you’re hawking affiliate products, a good reason for your audience to embrace it and a guarantee you’ll stand by.
- Focus on building a highly qualified list rather than a big one of poor prospects. Knowing who you’re talking to can make your marketing strategies and messages a lot more effective.
It’s not hard to find creative ways to turn prospects to clients. If you can listen and hear what your prospects are (or aren’t) saying, you’ll find delight in the fun answers you invent. People see marketing as painful. Done right, it’s a blast – for both you and those who enjoy the gift of your messages. Consider how much more effective your strategies will be when you get to know your audience well enough to laugh together over the messages you invent.