Why Marketing Fails #5: Niche Exhaustion

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When it comes to marketing to multiple niches, I have two words of advice:

1. Go ahead! There’s nothing wrong with targeting multiple niches. BUT…

2. Pick one and become a leader in it, then move on to the second one.

If you try to go after too many niches (target audiences) at the same time, you will wear yourself out. It’s exhausting and doesn’t use the “best of you.”

When you go after too many niches simultaneously, your marketing time and money is scattered too broadly. Say for example that you want to go after “salespeople in the pharmaceutical industry” and also want to go after “salespeople in the auto industry.”

Their appears to be a common denominator (salespeople), but the two industries and the two selling styles are dissimilar.  You would have to connect with both industries simultaneously, which means you can’t really focus all your time, energy and marketing money on just one target. Scattered focus equals scattered results.

In my article, The Problem With Niches, I said that the whole purpose of choosing a niche is so you can find a central place that potential clients congregate. Find ALL the places where auto industry sales people congregate: meetings, magazines, conferences, classes…especially those that are specifically focused on the niche you’re going after. Center your marketing attention on those areas first. Once you become known and recognized in that niche, then move on to other industries or other niches.

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Why Marketing Fails #3: No Follow-Up

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There are some people in the world who love the challenge of “cold calling” — that is to say, you enjoy calling people who you have never met, have never had any contact via email or phone, and asking them whether they need your product or service.

But what about those people who contact you and ask about your products and services? They’re interested in your services, your classes, your mastermind groups. Do you follow-up with those warm leads?

Most small business owners will make at least one follow-up phone call or email to a prospective customer. But if they don’t get a response back, they often drop the whole thing. You don’t want to feel like you’re being a pest.

But you have to remember two important things:

  1. The prospect called you. They want to hear from you.
  2. There are many reasons why a prospect might not call you back.

Let’s look at both reasons

In the first place, the prospect contacted you. They are interested or they wouldn’t have gone to the effort of leaving a voicemail or sending an email. People who take action, even these seemly simple actions, are motivated and interested.

In the second place, just because they don’t return your phone call or email doesn’t mean they’re not interested anymore. Think about your own life for a minute: I bet you’re a very busy person and there’s always something going on that needs your attention. Items on your to-do list slip off, including returning phone calls and emails. Well, your prospects are just like you! They’re busy, they’re time-constrained, and they’ve got to put out fires first, before they can take on another task.

I’ve done an unscientific test over the past six months. I’ve continued to call and email people who have expressed an interest in me and my business, just to see what happens. Amazing! In nearly every single case, the prospect was grateful that I took the time to continue to follow-up, even though they hadn’t replied to me.

So why hadn’t they replied to you?

In short, life got in the way:

  • A family member died and they had to go out of town to take care of funeral and house-selling tasks for a month.
  • A child was preparing for a big college-entrance exam and needed a lot of extra time and attention.
  • They were working on a big proposal for a prospect and put everything else on hold until the proposal got out the door.
  • They had never gotten my reply email (a spam filter had captured it).

…And any number of other reasons. All legitimate.

How often should you follow-up?

Here are the rules of thumb I work with when I get a prospect call or email:

  • First contact: we follow-up within one business day
  • Second contact: we re-try three days later, always via phone (darn those email filters!)
  • Third contact: 10-14 days later, both by phone and by email

In marketing and sales, being shy or lacking confidence is a killer for your business. If people express interest in you, now is the time to connect with them, repeatedly if necessary, and not avoid it.

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Why Marketing Fails #7: Not Tracking Success and Failure

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You MUST have a way to measure the results of all your marketing. Tracking the success or failure of a marketing techniques solves the age-old question of “Which marketing techniques should I use?”

For instance:

  • When you posted an status update on Facebook, did it increase traffic to your website?
  • When you sent out your last email broadcast, did it produce sales?
  • When you wrote your last blog entry, did it produce comments, shares or link backs?
  • When you did SEO on your website, did it increase your rankings in the search engine results?
  • When you made your free offer, did people subscribe to your mailing list?

Never, never start a new marketing technique without having a clear idea of what result you want from that technique, and a way to measure those results.

And at the end of each month take a look at those results and compare them to the results you wanted. Just because something produced poor results doesn’t mean you should give it the heave-ho. The first thing you should do it see if there are tweaks you could make that would produce better marketing results. Only after repeated failure should you get rid of a technique that is not producing for you.

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Why Marketing Fails #6: Lack of Repetition

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One thing I know for sure: your customers are busy people. They see and hear your marketing message, and they may think, “Hey, that’s a great product!” Then a child (or the boss) starts to scream, or an ice storm knocks out power, or they run out of gas on the highway, and POOF! — Instant Distraction.

Placing just one advertising message and expecting miracle sales is a recipe for marketing disaster.  Marketing is a marathon not a sprint. It requires repetition to gain their attention. It requires repetition to RE-gain their attention. It requires repetition to gain their trust and respect. It requires repetition to get them to take action.

There is strength in repetition. Think about doing sit-ups. You don’t do just one…you do them over and over again, because the repetition of the exercise sends messages to your body to build specific muscles.

When planning your marketing campaign, common marketing wisdom tells us you need to get your message out to the customer at least seven times before they’ll really pay attention and act on it. If you have a mailing list of responsive clients, maybe two or three repetitions is enough.

Yes, there is such a thing as annoying people with too much marketing. Daily repetition of the exact same marketing message will cause people to exit quicker than a skunk in a movie theater. But a balanced pacing of marketing messages (say once a week or once every 10 days), plus a focus on what the benefit is to the customer, will reap rewards every time.

Whether you use email marketing, printed postcards, or Google Adwords, repetition of your marketing message is one of the key factors in getting people to really see and hear it. It ensures that, should they become distracted and forget about your message, that you give them another reminder. Plan your marketing campaigns accordingly.

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Why Marketing Fails #4: Blindfold Marketing

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Remember the childhood game, Pin The Tail on the Donkey? You would be blindfolded, spun around three times, and a paper donkey tail would be put in your hand. Your job was to “find the donkey” and attach the tail to it, without raising the blindfold. Lots of fun!

(When you were 6 years old. Not so much today.)

In business and marketing, working blindfolded is a curse. And you’ve no one to blame but yourself. If you don’t have a business plan or a marketing plan, you haven’t answered the foundational questions, especially the ones that go like this:

  • Who is my ideal client?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • How can my audience be divided into segments?
  • Where can I find them?

If you feel like you’re running around in circles with your marketing, it’s because you ARE! Your prospects aren’t moving…but you can’t find them because you can’t see them. Pin the tail on the prospect.

Please don’t tell me that you have these marketing plans “all in your head.” Have you ever actually seen a business plan or marketing plan? These are sophisticated documents that takes several hours (sometimes several days) to really think through. It’s not something you keep in your head. Write it down.

And update it at least once a year. Times change, your customers’ needs and challenges change, technology changes. You’d better keep up or you’ll be left out.

If you do not have an up-to-date business plan and marketing plan, STOP marketing and get thee to thy writing desk! Learn how to write a business plan, and what belongs in a marketing plan. These are strategic documents that you can’t afford to be without.

You are capable of taking off your own blindfold. Make a commitment today to doing the homework necessary to building your business by building your foundation. It’s not as hard as you fear, but it takes a bit of thinking and pondering, and a little research. You’ll have a happier (and more prosperous) business once you get these documents under your belt.

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Why Marketing Fails #2: Follow-the-Herd Marketing

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Do NOT follow the herd when it comes to choosing marketing techniques. Doing what everyone else does, or doing what’s the latest-and-greatest hot trend, is a sure path to marketing failure.

People tell me they want a marketing plan, but what they really mean is, “Tell me exactly which techniques to choose and when to do them.”

Guess what? There is no one single perfect, magic marketing plan that will guarantee results for every single business owner forever.

Why? Because everyone’s audience is different. Everyone’s marketing message is different. Everyone’s marketing goals are different. And everyone’s budget is different.

The last time I counted, there were over 100 marketing techniques available. How can a one-size-fits-all marketing plan come from 100 marketing technique choices?

It’s time to do your homework.

The place to do your homework is in crafting a Marketing Plan. A marketing plan takes you step-by-step through all the topics you need to consider when doing the marketing for your business, including:

  • define your target audiences and your niche
  • analyze your competition
  • determine your unique selling proposition
  • craft your core message
  • set your marketing goals and budget
  • set your prices
  • create a marketing campaign and calendar

Whatever you do, don’t just jump on the bandwagon of every new marketing technique that comes along. That kind of knee-jerk reaction will put you in the poor house faster than you can say, “shotgun approach to marketing!”

Let me give you a good example.

Social media marketing. Everyone says, “Oh, get a Facebook account!” But does your audience hang out on Facebook? Why would you market on Facebook if your target audience isn’t there. Know your audience and find out where they hang out…then get in front of them.

I know it takes time and effort to research and write a marketing plan. But only through marketing planning can you have the confidence of knowing you’ve chosen the best techniques from the 100+ available. And you’ll know that you will be executing the techniques in the correct order and at the right time of year.

I’d trade confident marketing for quick marketing any day. Would you?

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