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Avoiding Business Mistakes

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PostPosted: Dec Sun 17, 2006 3:06 pm    Post subject: Avoiding Business Mistakes Reply with quote

Avoiding Business Mistakes

Greatest Marketing Mistakes Almost Every Business Makes and How to Avoid Them...
by Michael E. Enlow.

I am constantly hearing this same dilemma repeated over and over again: "What can I do to sell more of my products/services?". Look around, you'll immediately see what you shouldn't do. Look at the very next ad you see. If you're like me, what you'll see are business communications that are self-centered, braggart, loaded with unnecessary information, and just plain ineffective marketing tools. In essence, a waste of the marketer's time, the company's money and a failure to gain the prospect's interest.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of ads never accomplish their main objective: to sell the product! Just because an ad costs a lot of money doesn't mean it is any more effective than one that costs thousands less. The following 10 items are the most costly mistakes you can make as a business owner or marketing manager. So let's get serious and help you to avoid these all-too-common mistakes before they cost you your job or your business!

1) Center Your Focus On Your Prospects, NOT On Your Company
It is all too easy to focus all your advertising on you and not on your prospects. We all do it, just look at any ad and ask yourself what the ad is really saying. Is it talking about the prospect or about the company? You must focus ALL your marketing communications on the prospect, period.

To overcome this common belief is the single most important step to selling more of your products or services. Remember the prospect is interested in one thing and one thing only: what's in it for them. Forget about how great your company is, save that for later, always begin with your focus on the prospect and their concerns.

2) Know Everything About Your Prospect And Their Problems
The more you know about your prospect, the easier it will be to convince them that they need what your product or service. Every qualified prospect has a problem that your product can easily solve to ultimately make their life easier in some way. Your job is to uncover this problem, or set of problems, and show your prospect, using fact based on benefit that they must buy what you are selling in order to immediately solve their problem and lead a more productive life.

To see what I mean, simply ask yourself why someone should buy what you are selling. Use your answers in your marketing communications. It's that simple, yet how often is it just not done? Remember this fact, people buy because they have a problem, rarely do they buy just for the sake of buying or because you've been in business over twenty years. Think about your own personal reasons for buying virtually anything, you'll see what I mean.

3) Know What Specific Benefits Your Product/Service Provides.
Study the true benefits of owning your product or using your service. A true "benefit" differs greatly from a "feature". Features are about the product: Benefits are about the prospect. You will sell far more of your products or services if you focus on what is important to the prospect, not to you. The prospect is only interested in the benefits he/she will receive by owning your product. In other words, the prospect is interested in your product because of the problem it solves and nothing else.

Your prospect has little interest in what features your product/service offers because they will never take the time to uncover the hidden benefit(s) behind each of the features of your product or service. Look at it this way, how does the fact that your company has existed for twenty-five years help me paint my living room? Tell me that I will save time and effort by using a new type of roller that your company sells and I, as your prospect, will be interested in what you are selling. Include a special offer if I buy the new roller today, and you've made a sale! (more about special offers later)

4) Qualify Your Prospects BEFORE You Spend ANY Money Marketing Your Products To Them:
It astounds me to no end to see how many times I get expensive promotional mailings sent to me without EVER having first been qualified as being; A) interested in the product, B) able to afford the product or C) having ANY need, currently or in the future, for the product! I know that I will never buy anything from that company, no matter how glitzy a promotion they present me with, so why don't they know that? Simple, they never took the time to qualify me as a potential prospect.

There are many ways to qualify a prospect, the most simple methods being things such as having the prospect return a business reply mail card from a card-deck, calling an "800" number to request your information or catalog, or by buying a related product from either yourself or a similar business. If you don't take these simple steps to qualify your prospects, your marketing efforts are being wasted on people who will NEVER buy what you are selling for any number of reasons. Smart marketing starts with qualifying leads.

5) Never Focus Your Marketing Communications At The Entire World: Focus On A Specific Prospect Or Group And Speak To Them Directly. All too often, marketing communications try to satisfy all the people all the time and as a result end up alienating most prospects most of the time. Face it, you will never be all things to all people all the time so focus on a specific prospect, be able to describe them in a specific situation where your product could directly make their life easier. Ask yourself what are the problems(s) that your prospect is trying to solve and why is it important that he/she solve them with your product. You will sell more of your products/services to a smaller, more focused, number of prospects and save money in the process by cutting your cost-per-sale dramatically. Stop wasting your precious marketing dollars talking to the world! Focus, focus, focus!

6) State The Specific Problem A Prospect Has And What That: Problem Is Costing Him/Her Every Minute It Is Left Unsolved. Selling on fear is a powerful, yet widely misunderstood, marketing tool that is the most effective and most important element to any marketing communication you will ever write. In order to get your prospect to take notice of what you are selling, you have to blatantly tell them what it is costing them for ignoring your message. This can be done as a headline, followed by a subheadline explaining the solution: in other words your product or service. (Remember explain the main BENEFIT of your product as the SOLUTION to the problem you have just stated).

For example:
Stop Wasting Your Valuable Time And Money Waiting For blah blah blah....
Use <your> and get <specific> immediately!

7) Use The First Line Of Your Document To Attract Attention: All too often we get caught up in a very common marketing trap. Look at your marketing materials, what is the first thing you see? Is it your fancy company logo, your address, something about how good you think you are? Chances are that is exactly what you will see. The problem is that the prospect doesn't care about how your logo looks, or how good a company you think you are, all they care about is what's in it for them.

Begin any marketing piece with a strong statement that will capture the attention of your audience immediately. The first thing your prospect must see in order to gain their attention is a statement of the problem they have followed by the solution you have, backed up by the cost of not solving the problem immediately. Once you have the attention of your prospect, then you can take the time to explain your product in greater detail. Gain attention first, spell out details later.

8) Motivate Your Prospect to act immediately: While You Have Their Attention!
Now that you have created a need for what you are selling, you have to motivate your prospect to take immediate action, while they are still excited about your product. Wait to long and you know what will happen: the average consumer will soon forget all about what you can do for do for them and quickly move on to the next exciting offer. Convincing a prospect that you have a great solution to a problem they have is only the first step to making the sale. It will do you no good to have the prospect ready to act and not have a reason for them to act immediately.

This is accomplished by using expiration dates, special "limited time" offers, two for one sales, cash discounts, etc.... You have to tell your prospect that you have a solution and if they order today, you will add some FREE bonus, grant a discount of XX%, double the order at no charge, pay for shipping, etc.... It is of no value to you to get your prospects motivated to buy and not give them ANY compelling reason to act TODAY!!!

9) Use Testimonials In ALL Your Marketing Communications.
To a prospect who is receiving your marketing materials for the first time, your company has little or no credibility, you are virtually unknown to the prospect. Getting around this hurdle and convincing your prospect that others with similar problems HAVE truly benefited in a positive way from your product is the fastest and most effective way of gaining your prospect's confidence. Every time you get ANY positive feedback from a prospect, ask them if you can quote them, even if it is just on the telephone. Keep a file of these quotes and have it handy the next time you sit down to create a new marketing piece. Failure to use testimonials will result in undue difficulty in gaining a new prospect's confidence and will directly impede your sales. The rule of thumb is two testimonials per page, although more might be acceptable, but never less than two per page.

10) Offer A Strong Risk Reversal or Guarantee Of Satisfaction.
The common belief that offering a guarantee will simply entice more returns is false; by offering a guarantee of satisfaction you will invariably sell more of your products or services without necessarily increasing your net percentage of returns. Your prospects will be converted into customers more easily and will be less likely to return your products because your guarantee implies faith in the product or service by your company. This may be the final step in getting many stubborn prospects to commit to purchasing your product. Remember that a return rate that remains below 10% is considered acceptable and should not be of any concern to you.

Simplifying The Purchasing Process As A Final Step All too often ordering a product is difficult, if not at all worth the effort. All the marketing in the world is useless if purchasing your product is not made easy. If you are selling through the mail, include an order coupon that is large enough to fill out without having to crunch too much information into too small an area. ( Provide an "800" number with responsive people to answer questions and take orders. Provide a "postage-paid" return envelope so that orders can be returned the same day. These simple courtesies go a very long way into closing the sale while the prospect is thinking about it. We are a people accustomed to immediate gratification and it is not only necessary, but it is expected. As you can see, marketing is a multifaceted process that requires a great amount of preparation and is often overlooked as being anything more than a nuisance to the person responsible for creating the marketing communications. I can promise you this: if you follow the 10 guidelines I've just presented to you, you will immediately increase you response rates and ultimately your sales. How high a response rate depends on how well you've applied the concepts to your marketing. I have personally achieved response rates as high as 52%, a figure unheard of in today's marketplace.

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