The "Ten" Greatest Marketing Mistakes Most All
Businesses Make and What to Do About It!
By Jay Abraham
Marketing Mistake One
It's amazing how few companies ever test any aspect of their marketing and compare it to something else. They bet their destiny on arbitrary, subjective decisions and conjecture. This is sad for a number of reasons.
First, we don't have the right or the power to pre-determine what the marketplace wants and what the best price, package or approach will be.
Rather, we have the obligation and the power to put every important marketing question to a vote by the only people whose ballot counts: customers and prospects.
How do we put a marketing question to a vote? By testing one sale thrust against another, one price against another, one headline against another, one TV or radio commercial against another, one follow-up or up-sell overture against another.
I could go on and on.
The point is -- and this is not guesswork -- when you test one approach against another and carefully analyze and tabulate the results, you will be amazed that one approach always substantially out pulls all the others by a tremendous margin.
You will be amazed at how many more sales or how much larger the average orders you can realize from the same effort.
The purpose of testing is to demand maximum performance from every marketing effort.
If each of your field sales personnel averages fifteen calls a day, doesn't it make sense to find the one sales "pitch" or "package" that lets them close twice as many sales and increases their average order by 40% to 100% with the same amount of effort?
Tomorrow, have your salesmen try different pitches, different hot-button focuses, different packages, different specially priced offers, different "bumps" or upgrades, different follow-up offers, etc.
Each day review the specific performance of each test approach, and then analyze the data.
If a specific new twist on your basic sales approaches out-closes the old approach by 25%-50%, doesn't it make sense for every salesman to start using this new approach?
But don't stop at merely finding those approaches, offers, prices, or packages that outperform the others.
Once you identify the most successful combination, your work has just begun. Now you should find out "how high is high!"
Keep experimenting to come up with even better approaches that will out pull your current "control".
Your control is the concept, approach, offer, or sales pitch which has consistently proven, through comparative testing, to be the performer.
Until you establish your control concepts, techniques, and approaches, you can't possibly maximize your marketing.
Once you find control concepts or approaches, keep testing to see if you can improve on their performance, thereby replacing one control with a better one.
Testing applies not only to outside sales efforts but also to every aspect of marketing.
If you run ads in the newspaper or magazines, test different approaches, different headlines, different hot-button emphases, different packages, different rationales, different pricing, and different bonuses on top of the basic offer.
Test different directives to the reader or listener on how to respond and what action to take.
Test positioning in the front, back, right, or left-hand side of the page. Test where your commercials run.
Make specific offers and analyze the number of responses, traffic, prospects, and resulting sales for each specific ad. Then compute the cost-per-prospect, cost-per-sale, the average sale-per-prospect, the average conversion per prospect, and the average profit-per-sale against your control. This reveals the obvious winner, the control that you will keep running until a better control beats it.
Therefore, it stands to reason that you should test different ad approaches and find those that out pull all the others, then use those approaches to maximize your investment.
Test everything starting right now!
Marketing Mistake Two Running Institutional Advertising
Instead of Direct Response Advertising
What Is Direct Response Advertising
Almost every print ad, mailing piece, radio, or television commercial I see is based on institutional-type advertising.
At best, they produce deferred results.
At worst -- and this applies to 95% of all the advertising I look at -- institutional advertising is an ineffective, vacuous, wasteful expense that accomplishes no productive purpose whatsoever.
Most institutional advertising tells you how great the company paying for the advertising is, or how old they are, or some other cute and non-compelling foolishness.
Institutional advertising, as practiced by most advertisers, is wasteful folly.
It does not convey any compelling reason for the reader to favor your business over another. It does not make a case for the product or service you sell.
The claims made by most institutional advertising are pathetic: "Buy from me instead of my competitor for no other reason except my selfishness and avarice."
Institutional advertising does not direct the reader, viewer, or listener to any intelligent action or buying decision.
It does nothing productive but take up time, space and attention and wastes enormous, productive assets.
Direct response advertising is, by its very name, self-explanatory. It is designed to evoke an immediate response, action, visit, or purchasing decision from the viewer or reader.
Direct response advertising tells a complete story.
It presents factual, specific reasons why your company, product, or service is superior to all others, on an analytically and factually supported basis, as opposed to the mere conjecture used in institutional advertising.
Direct response adverting is salesmanship in print or over the air.
As salesmanship, it makes a complete case for the company, or product, or service.
It overcomes sales objections.
It answers all major questions, and it promises performance or results, and it backs the promise with a risk-free warranty or money back guarantee.
Direct response advertising directs people to action.
It compels readers, viewers, or listeners to visit your establishment, call you, or send in money, or drive their auto down to trade it in on a new model.
Used effectively, direct response advertising can produce tons of super-qualified, favorably disposed prospects. It gets people to call, write in or buy.
You can analyze the value, profitability and performance of virtually any direct response ad you run because it produces something you can track, analyze and compute.
Institutional advertising produces no results to speak of.
If you are running institutional ads, change them to direct response. Give your prospects information that is important to them, not you. Give them facts and performance capabilities of your product or service or tell them about your guarantee.
Give them reasons why your product is superior to your competitors, on a human basis that the prospect can understand and appreciate.
Direct response advertising is much more effective than institutional advertising because your prospect does not care one iota about you or your motivations.
All the prospect cares about are what benefit your product or service renders to him.
How will your product improve the prospect's situation and save him effort, time, and money? How will your product or service improve the prospect's life and why?
Tell him the answers to these kinds of questions and you will own your market, pure and simple.
After you have built your case, tell the reader, viewer or listener precisely what action to take.
Tell him how to get to your business, what to look for and who to ask for.
Tell him how and who to call.
Tell him what to do when the salesmen calls on him.
Remind him of the risk-free purchasing deal, and most important of all, tell him what results he can expect from owning or using your product or service.
By merely switching over from institutional to direct response advertising, you should improve your productivity many times over.
Marketing Mistake Three
Not Ascertaining and Developing Your Unique Selling Proposition and Articulating It Clearly as an Integral Part of All of Your Marketing.
The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is quite basically the essence, or the "quintessential element", of your entire business concept.
The Unique Selling Proposition is that unique advantage that distinguishes your business, your enterprise, from all other competitors.
Most people who are in business could not begin to clearly articulate their USP in 60 seconds or less.
Sadly, if you cannot articulate it, it is highly improbable that your customers and prospects can comprehend it.
So, your first step is to decide what your USP is.
Find out what is unique about your business, products or service, and then find a way to clearly state it to your customers.
Once you decide what your best Unique Selling Proposition is, you should integrate it into everything you do, every aspect of your business -- advertising, personal communications, telephone calls, letters.
Maybe you render more service than anybody else; maybe your product has more quality than anybody else; maybe you offer greater value than anybody else; maybe your discounts are greater because your markups are less.
Bottom line, there is some Unique Selling Proposition that you should basically build your entire business around!
Most companies try to be everything to everybody, and they cannot understand why they don't have any unique advantage, why they can't really take off ahead of their competitors.
The problem is that the business owner has never sat down and said" What distinguishes my company from my competitors?
Am I more expensive, less expensive.
Do I render more service, give better value, give a better guarantee, give two when you buy three, or three when you buy two?"
Most companies do not have a Unique Selling Proposition, yet it's very important.
It is the essence of your whole business.
You cannot build a consistent, effective, marketing, advertising and selling proposition if you just send messages out and your customers don't know what you're really representing, what it is that you are that your competitors are not.
You simply must develop a Unique Selling Proposition and integrate that into everything you do -- your ads, your salespeople in the field, your sales clerks in the retail store, your customer service department. It's very important.
Marketing Mistake Four
Not Having a Back-end
Most companies never address the back-end or residual part of their business. But the back-end is all-important.
I have discussed how one of my clients offered to sell a collection of rare coins to his new customers for just $19. He actually lost a few dollars up-front on every sale.
"Up-front" is the key, because of the 50,000 people who bought a set at $19, nearly 10,000 came back and bought on the back-end for $1,000 or more.
My client made $2,000,000 (yes, two million dollars) on the back-end.
But that is just the first step.
Once every three months this client goes back to the original 50,000 people who bought the $19 coin sets and gets at least 250 people to buy at least $1,000 more in coins.
That translates into $50,000 in back-end profits every three months, above and beyond the $2,000,000 I've already told you about.
My client then goes back to those 10,000 people who bought something for $1,000 and gets about 1,500 of them to buy more within the first nine months. The average additional order is $5,000 that makes my client another $1,500,000.
And those 1,500 customers keep ordering an average of one-and- a half times a year. That means an additional $1,500,000 in business every year comes from the back-end.
The back-end is vital to any business.
Look at the above illustration.
If my client had made that first $19 sale and not cultivated the back-end, he would have missed out on many, many millions of dollars in business, and actually lost money on the customer.
Until and unless you can identify how much back-end business you can expect, you will not know how profitable or unprofitable an ad, sale, customer or promotion really is.
For example, if you run $10,000/week ads in the newspaper, and they produce $9,000 in retail sales, it looks like you are losing $1,000 or more (I am not figuring the cost of the product sold or services rendered).
But are you losing in the long run?
If you induce those new customers to purchase a similar product or service from you in 45 days, you double the value of the customer: suddenly, you are far into profit instead of loss.
Induce them to come back once every three months and repeat the average transaction, and you have set up an annuity.
All from an original $1,000 loss, which you subsidized. But within three months or less the back-end business should offset your subsidy several times over.
The same dynamics apply to salespeople and sales.
If a salesperson costs you $2,000 a month in base salary and sales each month is $2,000 in new business, it sounds bad.
Yet, if the new customers do repeat business, or, if you develop a back-end that converts normally one-time sales into repeat customers, you accrue fabulous future income even if your salesperson loses money at first.
If every month you bring on twenty customers who initially spend $100, and you get them to spend $100 every three months, soon you will have six hundred people spending $100 every three months. That is $60,000.
Another part of back-end dynamics is harvesting the "residual value" of a customer. This takes a lot of thought, experimentation, and carefully documented analysis.
Look for logical product or service extensions to offer your customers.
Experiment with salesmen "locking clients into" an on-going purchasing commitment.
Experiment with capturing their names and telephone numbers and mailing them a specific offer or making a specific offer by phone and measuring the response.
If you are a one-product or one-service company, seek out other products, companies or services to offer your customers as your back-end.
Be open-minded about other products, services and companies that might fit, based on either demographics or areas of interest.
Religiously, work the back-end over and over again.
Marketing Mistake Five
Failing to Determine and Address Your Customer's and Prospect's Needs
Ninety percent of the businesses I look at never precisely determine the needs, desires, or requirements of the people to whom they are trying to sell.
How can you expect to adequately fill someone's needs if you never take the time to understand them? It's laughable. But few companies seek to meet their customer's needs.
Those companies that do understand their customer's needs and attempt to satisfy those needs seem to end up with all the business.
You can end up with all the business too, if you take the time to learn what your customers need.
Let's probe the problem a little.
To induce someone to favor you with business, you normally have to offer them some need-filling advantage.
Let's review just a few of the possible needs people want filled: convenience, better quality, lasts longer, saves time, performs more functions, state-of-the-art, saves you money, makes life less difficult (saves effort), makes you more money, more effective, etc.
What do your customers want or need most in the product or service you offer?
Do they want the convenience of knowing they can go down the block and get it from you, or the knowledge that your firm stocks or offers more items, or sizes, or products than any other company?
Do they want the top-of-the-line product or service? Or, do they want highly personalized service, attention, advice and instruction?
Perhaps they merely want to acquire the kind of goods and services you sell at the lowest possible price. Or maybe price alone isn't what they're after.
Maybe they want the best guarantee, service policy or service to support the sale.
I don't know which need or which combination of needs your potential customer seeks more than anything else, but that customer does seek fulfillment of some singular need or combination of needs, and sometimes the customer doesn't even fully realize his need.
But once you find and fill that need, you own your business niche.
If you don't know which needs your customer most wants you to fill, start by recognizing that no one can be all things to all people. You dilute your image as a need-filler when you try to do that.
So, first determine which needs you can fill, consistent with who you are, what your business is and how you operate.
Then talk to clients, prospects, and customers, and have your salespeople do the same. Experiment with the image you convey in your advertising and promotion.
Monitor the consensus and gauge the feedback.
Let your customers tell you, which specific needs they most want filled, then determine which of these needs you can actually fill.
Then, don't merely fill those needs silently.
Make sure your customers; prospects, salespeople and your entire marketplace learn that your business listened and that you finally did something to satisfy the unfulfilled needs of your customers.
Continuously (albeit tactfully) inform, educate, and outright point out that your company is fulfilling those needs for your customers.
Change your ads to feature these specific need-filling advantages.
Have your field or in-store salespeople point out what you are doing to serve your client's needs. Sent out letters that do the same. Phone your customers and inform them that you're prepared to fill their needs.
If you decide that service is the critical element, offer the best service, the fastest service, the most skilled technicians, the most knowledgeable staff, etc.
If top quality is the need you decide to fill, don't offer mediocre goods!
If you claim to be the best-quality business, make darned certain you're a regular fuss-budget about what you sell.
If you promise the lowest price, keep the promise. Integrity requires it if you don't genuinely fill the needs you purport to fill, your customers will soon abandon you.
Marketing Mistake Six
Forgetting or Never Recognizing That You Have to Both Sell and
"Educate" Your Way Out of a Business Problem, You Can't Just Cut the Price.
I am frequently asked to help a company out of a problem.
Often, it's to bail a company out of inventory overstock or stimulate patronage for some service or product that is just not selling.
How do I do it? What is my secret?
The answer is so basic, simple, and obvious you'll laugh I tell my clients to tell their customers and prospects the truth.
For example, if you have had 9,000 widgets gathering dust in your warehouse for six months, and you have $90,000 tied up in them, but no one's asking for widgets, write a letter, or a display ad, or a TV/Radio commercial that tells your customer and prospects that:
(1) you have a huge inventory of widgets
(2) the widgets are good for such-and-such
(3) you are interested in selling them retail, and (4) their quality composition/construction service functions and performance criteria are such-and-such.
Then tell people what other retailers or wholesalers would normally offer these or comparable widgets for and tell them the price you're willing to sell a widget or a specific quantity of widgets for.
An important point -- in fact, it's vitally essential -- is that your customers and prospects won't understand or appreciate a value, or a bargain, or service at a specific price (even the best price) doesn't compel excitement, or a response, until you tell people what their getting, what a value it is compared to other products and services, and why you can offer such value.
This applies to any problem.
When your business has a problem (say you've taken money or advances for a product or service) and something goes wrong, precluding you from fully or promptly or properly rendering that service, never, ever fail to acknowledge your screw-up.
Failure to tell the truth is a sure way to commit integrity suicide. Be up-front and honest, and call, write or individually approach your customers and apprise them of the problem.
Tell them precisely what you were supposed to do and tell them why you can't fill your obligations.
Tell them with certainty when you will be able to perform.
And this is the decisive factor: Give them some wonderful consideration to compensate them for being put out. Give them a small gift that cost a lot less than the profits you'll relinquish if you're forced to return their money.
Or send them a discount coupon or rebate a portion of their original purchase price.
Whatever consideration you offer, tell them why you're doing it, apologize for what ever went wrong, thank them for their business, and assure them honestly that you can rectify the problem.
Let them know that everything will be put right by such-and-such a time or method.
Marketing Mistake Seven
Failing to Make Doing Business with Your Company Easy, Appealing,
Desirable and Even Fun
It surprises me that most companies never put themselves in their customers' or prospects' position. Why else would they make doing business with them so hard?
If someone calls your company and a telephone operator is their first contact, can that operator make a compelling response to the prospect or customer's requests?
When people come into your store, how well versed are your sales clerks?
How much time have you spent in preparing dialogues, phrases, questions, and advice for your people to ask or offer to customers?
How willing are you or your people to answer questions and render truly informative advice, even if it does not directly or immediately benefit you?
How easy is it to find things in your store?
How conscientiously do you follow up on sales requests, orders, and inquiries?
How well do you keep customers informed on the progress of their order?
How much do you take your customers, prospects, and business for granted?
By merely stepping outside your office and walk up to your business wearing the hypothetical shoes of a prospect, you should see a lot of flaws in your operation.
Once they are remedied, you can dramatically improve your current and repeat business potential.
By making it inviting, easy, informative, non-threatening, educational and inspiring to do business with you, you'll loft your company above your competition.
1) You cannot service too much.
2) You cannot educate enough.
3) You cannot inform too much.
4) You cannot offer too much follow-up and follow-through.
5) You cannot make ordering too easy.
6) You cannot make calling or coming into your business too desirable.
Marketing Mistake Eight
Failing to Tell Customers The "Reasons Why"
Whenever you make an offer, ask for a sale, run an ad, have a salesperson make a proposition to a customer or prospect, or offer a product or service for sale at a specific price, always tell the reason why.
Why can you sell a product or service at a lower price than your competitor?
Is it lower overhead or your volume buying?
Do you buy odd-lot inventories?
Do you not give all the service?
Why is your price so good?
If your price is high, again, tell the customer or prospect why.
Do you offer a far superior product than the norm? Is your product made with demonstrable finer materials?
Is your product designed to last or perform two-and-a-half times longer than your competitors?
Is it handmade?
Is it made durable or with three times the personal stitching or handwork of some machine-made similar product?
If your price or the package is an especially appealing value, tell me why you're making the offer to me.
Is it because I'm going to order from you the first time, and it's an exclusive offer to first-time customers?
Is it because you got a great purchase on all or part of the components in the package, and you want to pass the savings on?
Or is it because you're overstocked and want to get your capital out of slower-moving inventory, so you're able and willing to sell me your product this one time only at an actual loss -- far less, in fact, than what any other company could or would legitimately offer the product or service for?
Please, tell me your reasons why!
Why should I patronize you instead of your competitors?
Tell me what you are doing, or will do, or will avoid doing that makes favoring your firm better for me than dealing with someone else.
Why can your salespeople handle my purchase better than someone else?
Tell me all the reasons why.
The more embraceable, factual, believable, credible, and plausible reasons you give me for dealing with your business, the more compelled I am to favor you with my business.
Marketing Mistake Nine
Not Sticking with Marketing Campaigns That is Still Working.
Many companies' promiscuously change campaign in mid-stream.
In the process they:
1) Don't let the effect of a winning concept work for them.
2) Don't allow the dynamics of testing to work for them.
3) Make a patchwork quilt of their company's image and persona.
Businesspeople get tired of their advertising and marketing campaign long before the marketplace ever tires of them.
Remember the section on testing at the beginning of this section?
Do not violate the tenets I taught you!
Test to find out which ad, marketing, or sales approach works best. Then only change or alter that approach if and when a new ad or concept outperforms your "control."
Continually experiment with new ideas, ads, and concepts without abandoning the ones that works the best.
If an approach works, don't arbitrarily abandon it. Only replace an approach when you've verified and validated a more successful and profitable successor.
Most ads, commercials, etc. produce only a modest percentage return every time they are run.
Direst response ads usually produce a 0.5% to 3% response.
You may have to run them two hundred times before you even begin to saturate your market. Just because you are sick of seeing, hearing, or watching the same marketing does not mean your marketplace is also sick of it.
The only vote that's relevant is the marketplace.
Test, test, test.
Test different concepts. approaches, and ideas, but never abandon your control until you find something that pulls better. Reread the section on testing.
When you are tempted to abandon a winning, producing, profitable approach that you are tired of, try to develop new approaches using a related or similar view.
If you've found the combination to your customer's responsiveness, keep going until the combination stops working.
Marketing Mistake Ten
When Preparing Ads, TV and Radio Commercials or Direct Mailings.
Forgetting to Focus on the Intended Customer and No One Else.
How many times have you scanned an ad in a newspaper or magazine and not have the slightest idea what it was all about, or for whom the information was intended?
Ads, mailing pieces, or commercials, all need a headline. A headline is an ad for the ad.
Its purpose should be to cull out only those who are most qualified to be a prospect for your proposition. Without exception, humorous, abstract, or circuitous ads or commercials are a waste.
If you run ads in general interest publications, TV, radio, and your product is pest control, you should not use headlines or opening statements like, "Got the bug to clean the house?" Or "This problem affects every homeowner."
Instead, fashion a headline or opening that states the purpose of the ad and qualifies the reader.
For example: "If Your Home is Plagued by Ants, Roaches, Mice, or Rats, We Can Eliminate the Problem with our Exiting, New Monthly Maintenance Service."
If you sell plumbing supplies to the contractor market and you run ads in Contractor Magazine, you shouldn't run ads that begin, "The best source of them all."
Instead, craft a headline that states your proposition, such as:
If You are Looking for a Source of Quality Plumbing Supplies, We Sell Them Exclusively to Contractors at 15% over our Cost, with 45-day Invoicing and an added Discount for Orders Over $2,500."
Address your target audience in the headline with teaser copy or the opening line.
If you want to reach people over forty-five, for instance say: "If You're 45 or Over and Thinking of Adding to, Replacing, or Acquiring Life, Health or Disability Insurance, this Information..." or "Insurance Coverage for People over 45 with No Physical, No Waiting, No Restrictions."
If you want to reach people interested in furniture, don't use a cutesy headline. Instead, try:
"Looking for a $1,500 Sofa Value for Just $475? We've got 150 in Stock Right Now."
Or "We Sell Expensive Furniture at Deep Discounts.
Our Average Price is 45% Less Than the Manufacturer's Suggested Price."
Whatever you sell, and whomever you want to reach with your story or message, be specific.
Telegraph your message directly to your prospective customers and tell them what you're offering.
I could go on and on, but remember these points:
1) Attract the attention of your target audience in your headline or opening remarks.
2) State your proposition or offer.
3) Use the rest of the ad to develop, support and present your offer and your reasons why the prospect should embrace it.
4) Finally. tell that prospect how to act.
From now on, always telegraph your message only to the people who are your primary prospects. Never again be content with humorous, non-specific, or abstract headlines or ads.
How to reach out to me for more information on powerful marketing for your dealership:
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am happy to help you!