As a marketer, consultant, and business mentor, I must have had dozens and dozens of conversations with start up entrepreneurs over the years. And I’ve noticed the same marketing mistakes come up over and over again. And today, I want to share some of these mistakes so that you can avoid them before they become serious.
1) Thinking of everything except how to get customers:
I’ve seen this one a lot, I get really frustrated when it happens! The entrepreneur will think of the logo, the shop design and layout, the colours, the merchandise supply source, hiring new staff, the website – everything but the most crucial activity; marketing!
Several years ago I briefly flirted with the idea of starting a kids barber shop. A family friend had a similar idea and we talked about the possibility of a partnership. Most of my thoughts about the potential new business were about how to attract families to the new place, what kind of offers I could make, and how to stand out in the market. Most of her energy went into the design, the colour scheme, and even the fabric of the chairs! Had she done it on her own I doubt the concept would have survived, as her business priorities were wrong.
2) Not knowing who their target customer is:
I see this a lot, someone falls in love with the idea and rushes to implement, before doing any kind of thinking about the potential size of the market, who they are trying to target, and how often they should target them. If you try to appeal to everyone you will end up attracting no one. So think about who your target customer is. What is their age? Income level? Where do they live? Do they have any hobbies? Do they belong to any clubs? Is there even enough of them to justify your business venture? Do some homework before you start, and decide who you will target.
3) Not having anything unique about their business:
It’s happened more than once that I’ve sat in a Coffee shop not knowing if it’s a Costa, Starbucks, Coffee Republic or one of the other chains. To me this is a dangerous thing, and it scares me when I see a start up entrepreneur not having given enough thought to how he will distinguish himself from the competition.
You must have what marketers call a USP – a unique selling proposition. A USP can be based on positioning, price, ingredients, colour, size, celebrity endorsement, hours of operation, location, etc. Just remember that you have to make your business stick out from the rest. Make it unique and memorable!
4) Not having a relationship with the customer:
A wise marketing guru once said that “you make a sale to get a knew customer, not to make a profit on the first sale.” What this means is that a good marketer will often spend a lot to get a customer, often sacrificing the profits of the initial sale. But the real profits come from the continuous purchases the customer makes over an extended period of time. So the purpose of the initial transaction is to gain a customer and to establish a long-term relationship. Does that make sense?
After the initial purchase you continue to communicate with the customer through email, social media, newsletters, postcards and special offers, strengthening the bond between you, and in the long term leading to more sales and profits.
5) Having too few sources of customers:
When I teach marketing at seminars I talk about a concept I developed called the Marketing Squid. I tell the audience “a squid has ten tentacles, and it needs them to survive. Imagine if it had only one or two tentacles, could it survive?” Of course the answer is now, the squid would not be able to move about properly and not catch any prey.
The squid represents your business; if you have only one or two sources of customers (tentacles) your business will not be able to survive in the long term. You need multiple sources of customers (i.e. multiple marketing activities) to survive and thrive in the long term. You should consider print, radio and TV advertising, direct mail, marketing joint ventures, and public relations to mention just a few. Never be dependent on just one or two key sources, as that is too risky!
Hope this was useful. Talk to you soon.