8 Marketing Errors Entrepreneurs Make in the First Year
Being a new entrepreneur can be tough, and marketing may seem like one challenge too many for you right now. There is a lot of pressure to get things right, but the first year is all about making mistakes and learning from them. Here are eight common marketing errors that entrepreneurs make in their first year – learn from these to help you build a better business.
Not listening to customer language
Successful selling is led by understanding customer behavior and language. You have to devote a lot of time to really getting to know your customers – it’s a core component of successful marketing.
- Doing thorough keyword and market research means adopting the mindset of your customers and delving into the language they use (and why). (Here is HubSpot’s useful guide to keyword research).
- Plan out website menu categories, category descriptions, and web pages based on your audience’s main keywords. Look for relevancy and variants – don’t just endlessly repeat the same phrases.
- Use keyword research to help you map out a customer journey. Plan for both the awareness and consideration stage. What are people looking for? How can you help? What questions do you need to answer in order to make a sale?
- Using buyer personas will help you narrow your keywords down– what specific problems is ‘Sally’ from procurement trying to solve with your product? Don’t be too generic – try to speak to one person at a time!
Forgetting to optimize for SEO
SEO is crucial for any new venture; the more you know about good SEO practices, the better. Educate yourself about SEO in order to build a better website and a better business.
- Focus on high-quality and original content; great content doesn’t mean you will win all your SEO battles, but it’s a good start.
- Squeeze every last drop of SEO value and optimize image alt tags and page titles for all your pages. Use your primary and secondary keywords. Yes, it’s a tedious task – but it could make a huge rankings (and revenue) difference. Three months’ of hard work could set you up for the next two years and most modern CMSs make tasks like this easy.
- Crawl your site and fix any 404s, always include a sitemap, and remove any duplicate content from the index. Page speed is also important for your site’s SEO, so optimize your website’s download speeds. If none of that made any sense – hire an SEO expert to help you. These little technical fixes might not seem like much, but they make a huge difference.
In a hurry to get something published, entrepreneurs are sometimes guilty of not thinking their branding through properly. Bad branding leaves a bad taste in the mouth and isn’t good for business – make sure you do your branding due diligence.
- Don’t rush out there without a plan. Simple touches like custom fonts and a professional logo can make a huge difference to even the most MVP (minimal viable product) website. Be proud about what you put out there, and make sure customers see you in the best possible light.
- Navigate through your whole customer journey – is it really consistent? Remember that customers are likely to use your website in unexpected and idiosyncratic ways – don’t just plan and test for the ‘perfect user’ (hint: they don’t exist).
- Mismatched imagery and boring stock photos? Bin them! It’s so easy to take nice photos these days – you shouldn’t have to rely on subpar imagery.
- Print professional business cards and make sure you have a cohesive brand presence – small touches can make a big difference in the early days.
Forgetting to plan for service
Being in business is often like being in the service industry. Marketing is closely linked to customer service and support – great marketing won’t be able to fix your brand if you’ve got customer service issues.
- Think about how you will best manage customer service for your business . You can outsource certain things to live chat portals or chat bots, but you will ultimately have to take responsibility for customer happiness.
- Disaster plan for those tricky customer service moments. We have all seen some absolute shocking customer service fails (especially over social media). Plan for all eventualities with a proper crisis plan that sets out what to under different scenarios.
- One easy way to cut down on time spent dealing with customers is to provide all the information they need online (clear terms & conditions, policies, FAQs); but don’t hide your contact details either. Sometimes people prefer to deal with you directly.
- Decide on a customer service tone – humor may work on your sales pages, but it will be less funny when someone is complaining.
When you are busy and putting in all sorts of crazy hours to get things done, it can be easy to let networking fall by the wayside. The truth is that any business needs a community around it to survive – neglect it at your peril.
- It will be much easier to score promotional opportunities if you build relationships with people like bloggers and editors.
- Networking doesn’t have to take up all your time – set some time aside (perhaps once a week) to build relationships with your local community.
- Think of all the people that you’ve come in contact with over the course of your life – see if there is someone in your network already who can help with your business.
- Networking can be online or offline – don’t get stuck in the mindset of business breakfasts and the like.
Not using the right tools
There are loads of platforms, CRMs, and other tools out there that cash-strapped entrepreneurs can use to massively simplify their marketing. Invest in the right environments to help you market more effectively from day one.
- Learn as much as you can about all the available platforms and tools so that you can be prepared when it comes to making the right choice. An uninformed choice is often a bad one. If in doubt, go with the majority and use a tried and tested service. Some people will try to sell you a premium service or product until you are truly ready – be careful.
- Custom ecommerce stores can cripple young entrepreneurs with astronomical build and maintenance costs that leave zero space for effective marketing. Unfortunately, the world is full of online entrepreneurs with no money, wondering why their service or product won’t sell. Spread your costs with pay monthly platforms and use a handy resource like the Shopify store trial to test the viability of your idea with less financial risk.
- Project management tools like Trello can help you scale and manage a new team effectively – use it to map out marketing campaigns and strategies for your brand.
Not having a social strategy
Social media for your business isn’t just about posting fun stuff online – it’s a serious marketing strategy.
- You don’t have to be everywhere at once. Choose a channel and a medium that makes sense for your product and audience. Focus on quality and don’t stretch yourself too thin.
- Be consistent across your channels. Use images well and make sure your tone strikes the right balance.
- Be clear on where customer service is best deal with. People will contact you on social for customer service queries, so move them off it fast if that’s not a preferred avenue.
- Help, share, and communicate on social media. It’s not a place for a hard sell attitude.
Ignoring cross-promotional opportunities
Just because you run an online business, doesn’t mean you can forget to operate in the bricks and mortar world like the rest of us. And if you are mainly operating ‘offline’, why not go digital to help your brand grow?
Use every opportunity, offline and online, to drive sales and revenue and don’t get stuck in a ‘that’s not for me’ mentality. Being a great entrepreneur is all about spotting opportunities and going for them.
- Registering a physical business address? Use Google MyBusiness to create an online business listing (great for local searches).
- Running a pop-up shop, having a stall at a busy local market, running a workshop, or hosting a networking event can all be great ways to get your name out there. Relying solely on online traffic is hard; use real world opportunities to market your new brand.
- Paying for traditional advertising? Don’t settle for boring billboard ads – use guerrilla marketing tactics to disrupt and entice.
Which mistake do you think is the most common and why? Tell us what you think in the comments below.