Your business idea is solid, your product is top-notch, and you're on all the major social networks. So why aren't you seeing the sales growth you expected? According to serial entrepreneur Drew Williams, it all boils down to one major issue: poor marketing.
"Most entrepreneurs have great ideas for products and services, but don't know how to market them," said Williams, co-author of Feed the Startup Beast (McGraw-Hill, 2013). "By creating a proven, repeatable system of marketing, entrepreneurs will be able to achieve a high level of consistency, scalability, measurement and, finally, success."
Williams identified five marketing mistakes that will keep your startup from reaching its full potential, and how to fix them before it's too late:
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Failing to ask customers what they think of your product. Not having a product or service that the market really wants is one of the biggest mistakes startups make. It's also one of the leading reasons that so few businesses ever achieve their growth targets. Most entrepreneurs set out with a very strong belief in what they’re doing, and some don't want to be told otherwise. Show your prospects and customers what you're doing and get their input. You will always come out ahead for having done so, and the best part is, you’ll be amazed at how many of them are willing to help. All you have to do is ask.
Not building a "den of seduction" into your website. Most startup websites are not built to sell. Your website has to be the center of your marketing universe. When a prospect finds you, they have to be presented with a very compelling path that leads them to a place where you can convert them from "anonymous visitor" to "known prospect," with whom a meaningful relationship can now be started. That means turning your website from a self-serve buffet into a den of seduction.
Being unfindable. Armed with Google, potential buyers can find out everything they need to know about what you sell. So when they're looking, you have to make sure you're found. That said, the range and scope of social media and inbound marketing tools is staggering and tends to overwhelm even the hardiest marketer, let alone the average entrepreneur who sees marketing as being just this side of a necessary evil. The secret is to focus on a few inbound tactics that really pay back, and safely setting aside the other 19,000 tactics that don't, at least for now.
Not pursuing prospects. Many startups convince themselves that their marketing is covered if they run a little SEO, a blog and social media accounts. That is, until someone notices that sales seem a little sluggish. Marketing that pays back is equal parts being found by best prospectsand actively finding best prospects. It isn’t hard to identify 50 prospects who, by all rights, should be buying your product, and then targeting them with an intriguing campaign that starts to build a relationship. As those initial 50 prospects move into various stages of engagement with you, you roll out the next 50 prospects, and so on. If you know who should be buying from you, introduce yourself to them.
Not measuring success and creating obtainable goals. The fastest path to growth is to double-down on what works. There are many marketing measures you can torture yourself with, but figure out the ones that most efficiently guide you toward your goals. Make sure your business is built around those metrics.
"Understand marketing and be hands-on in developing a system so you know how it works – your success almost certainly depends on it," Williams said. "It bears remembering that one of the greatest tech entrepreneurs of our time wasn't a technologist. Steve Jobs was a marketer."