This October, I’ll be presenting “Taking an Offline Business Online for Greater Impact” to a group of entrepreneurs. As I’m preparing for that presentation, I thought it might be helpful to share what I believe are some common online marketing mistakes. These are the mistakes I see every day. If you’d like to add others, feel free to comment below.
When it comes to online marketing, I generally see two types of people. Some think they know nothing about it and they’re almost afraid to learn. Others think they already know everything and don’t need to learn anything more. Both of these approaches can work against your success.
It is true that online marketing is not very different from other types of marketing. The tools are different, but the goals and processes aren’t that different. You still need to understand who your audience is, what your product or service is, and know how to explain to your audience why it will solve their problems and why you are the one to offer it.
Here are the most common online marketing mistakes I see:
* Not Sticking to One Brand – Don’t try to be someone different online than you are offline. Don’t try to recreate your brand for every social media network. Keep the same brand image, slightly changed as necessary for each network’s platform and features, but keeping the same colors, values, and ideals as you have on your website. You want your customers to know who you are, no matter where they connect with you.
* Not Watching Your Competitors – You don’t want to copy your competitors, but watching them will help you stay one step ahead of them. It might even alert you to some systemic change in the marketplace if you are paying attention. Be aware of what type of products and/or services your competition provides and be ready to do them one better. Learn from their successes and their failures.
* Not Having a Goal – It’s imperative that for each type of marketing you do, you have a specific goal in mind. I recommend using the SMART goal framework. Whether it’s content marketing, pay-per-click marketing, or social media marketing, having a goal to reach will help you know whether or not you’ve accomplished your mission. Plus it will help you know how to move forward.
* Not Having a Domain Name – Not only should you have a domain name, but you should also have an email @yourdomainname if you want to be taken seriously as a business owner. I have a gmail account I use for personal stuff, but for business it’s email@example.com. You can easily set up your own email address with your webhost provider, sometimes at no additional charge.
* Not Having Diverse and Regular Content – It’s no longer enough to simply put up 500-word blog posts and expect to get a loyal following. Today you need longer blog posts, video, podcasts, infographics, memes and more to ensure that you are reaching all parts of your audience. Everyone learns differently, and it’s your job to educate them in the way they learn best. When it comes to diversity and regularity, I’m a work in progress. This year I’ve started doing more video and it’s paying off with more awareness and engagement.
* Not Having an Email List – It’s surprising how many business owners there are who don’t realize the importance of building an email list for successful online marketing. But it’s true; some people don’t build an email list, and they should. If you aren’t sure how to keep an email list, feel free to reach out to me and I can help with that. If you just need a resource, I recommend Aweber.
* Not Having Well-Written Content – You can’t just slap anything up and expect it to be successful when it comes to content marketing. You need original, unique content that speaks directly to your audience. In addition, you need curated content from other experts which you comment on. I am approached on a fairly regular basis to share content on my blog, and it’s stunning how often what they want me to share is poorly written and needs substantial editing. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to pay attention to the writing.
* Not Focusing on Benefits over Features – It’s tempting to discuss all the features of your product or service instead of the benefits. All marketing messages, even on your “about us” page, need to be focused on your client and how your products or services benefit them. That can be difficult to wrap your brain around sometimes, but it is imperative in order to get more conversions.
Here’s an exercise I recommend everyone go through: 1) write down a feature or your product or service, 2) write down the benefit to your client or customer, and 3) explicitly state “What that means to you.”
For example, one of the features of working with me is that I have been a successful small service business owner for almost 20 years. The benefit to my clients is I actually understand what they’re going through and can guide them to make better decisions. What that means to my client is when they are asked about whether to invest in a new advertising campaign, purchase new technology or hire another salesperson, they can reach out to me and I will walk them through the process so they have peace of mind and confidence that they are making the best decision they can. What I am really offering is peace of mind and confidence.
In summary, don’t be afraid of online marketing, but do take it seriously. I will help you grow your business in ways that can be gratifying and financially rewarding. If you really want to be successful at online marketing, learn from those who have gone before you, and do not try to reinvent the wheel.
If you have questions about how to get started or how to make progress marketing your offline business online, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to help.