Don’t pay a thing until your brand is #1 on the web
Marketing remains one of the most important and talked about aspect of any business in the world. More importantly, it is an ongoing process that start well before the business even comes into being. You have to let people know what your business is all about, what problem you solve, and how you are different from your competitors. However, there are certain ways, rules, and effective methods of doing that. In the modern world, marketing is nothing less than science. If you have a business or you are considering starting one, here are some marketing mistakes you must avoid.
When it comes to the modern ways of marketing, you can’t really get to your goals without depending on data. Data-driven marketing is the future of marketing. You have to collect and utilize data to understand your audience and start marketing campaigns that are effective. Talk to any expert about marketing and the first advice they will give you is to understand your audience. How do you identify and understand your audience? That’s not even a difficult question with the modern tools that you have available. Today, you could sign up with any social network and it can provide you with enough data about your target audience to build your marketing campaigns around.
In addition to that, you can collect some data on your own too. If your business is already running, you can use CRMs and other tools to collect your customers’ data. However, the most important issue here is making use of that data. Many businesses do have the data, but they don’t know how to make sense of data. As the experts say, data that does not make sense is noise. You can now use a variety of data collection and data classification software tools today for putting your data in order. In addition to that, you can take advantage of professionals like data scientists, data analysts, and a chief data officer to be at the top of your game.
If you are not basing your marketing on data, you are releasing an arrow in the dark. You don’t have a target and you won’t know what to do next even if it hits the target miraculously.
How can you market effectively without measuring it? Even the kids have examinations and term papers so you know what their progress is. You can’t start marketing campaigns and forget about them. In many cases, business owners know that some of their marketing campaigns are working, but they have no idea which ones. That situation is worst because it means that the owner is spending some unnecessary money into a futile effort. What if you are running five marketing campaigns and only two of them are working? That could mean you are spending the money on the remaining three.
Not to mention, marketing budgets are not small. You could be spending thousands of dollars without any results. The best thing about today’s digital marketing is that you can measure the potential and performance of your campaigns. You can even collect valuable data about your email campaigns. The several metrics you can measure include the number of emails opened, the number of emails replied to, the number of emails not opened etc. Believe it or not, you now have email marketing tools that can provide you even more detailed data than that. At the end of the day, you should be spending your marketing budget only on the campaigns that are bringing in money.
Marketing has evolved at the speed of light in the past few years. Of course, you now have a completely different marketing landscape to deal with since the arrival of the internet. In the past, you could manage with billboards, TV commercials, newspaper ads, etc. but things have changed completely today. The most important thing is that it is not just the methods of marketing that have changed. In fact, businesses now have to assume different characters and personas in order to be effective at marketing. You can’t sound like a seller anymore today.
Take the example of various business assuming unique characters on social networks to look different. A great example is Wendy’s, a chain of fast food restaurants in the US. The business has assumed the persona of a character that likes to roast people. This has earned a lot of attention from the followers for Wendy’s. People like to interact with the brand on the social network, share its tweets, and talk about it. In a similar way, a company that sells blenders started a series of videos in which it will try to blend daily items of use. It would blend smartphones, watches, calculators, and just about anything.
Not that the company wants people to do that, but it assumed this character because it gets people’s attention. You have to do the same if you want people to pay attention to you.
A lot of the marketing today is about giving customers the best experience of your brand. Social media websites have proven to be the perfect platforms for business to do that. Today, you can use these platforms to listen to your customers and reply to their concerns. In fact, it is a perfect way to provide customer service to your existing and new potential customers. It is free and you have also have the liberty to talk to them in any way you like. You can reference pictures, videos, GIFs, and anything you want to explain your point of view.
Most importantly, when you resolve the problems of your customers on social media, there are thousands of other people looking at this act. They appreciate this gesture from you and this is how good reputation spreads for your business. Once again, you can use CRM, more specifically social CRMs, to listen to your customers and in what context they are mentioning your brand. Every time they talk about your brand or your set keywords, you get notified. As a result, you can tune into the conversations and resolve any issues that might be bothering your customers.
The beauty of the internet is that you can get people’s feedback on just about anything. Smartphone companies are doing that on a regular basis. They will ask their customers what they like or dislike and try to implement those things in their upcoming models. You don’t have to keep surprises from the public unless you are 100% sure that what you are about to do will be liked. If you are unsure about the steps you are about to take, just take public feedback and it will help you. It does not even cost you anything. You could run a free poll on a social network and public voting will tell you what it expects from you.
Many companies have made mistakes of not getting the public feedback and then paying the price for that in the modern times. The best example is of the world famous company GAP. It was in 2010 when the company thought it needs to revamp the logo that it had been rocking for several years. The first logo was GAP written in white on a dark blue background. The company redid the logo by writing the word GAP in black. They even changed the font of the writing. In addition to that, they reduced the size of the blue background square shape. The backlash from the public was real. The uproar was so intense that the company had to go back to its original logo in no more than two days.
Had the company gotten some feedback from the public, it would not have happened in the first place.
As stated earlier, marketing has changed significantly in the recent years. Today, there are many unique ways of marketing your business and products. One of the ways is to use social networking platform to run contests. You can run contests and reward the customer with one of your newly launched products. Sometimes, you can give these contests the shape of giveaways. In giveaways, you don’t really want your customers to do a lot. For example, the company might require the customer to post a witty line for the brand. It can then reward the wittiest customer with the new product.
You can also use YouTube as the best platform for starting giveaways. YouTubers are influencers who have deep penetration into their audiences. Your business can take advantage of these influencers to target more customers. If you did not know, influencer marketing is one of the most powerful ways of marketing today. It is up to you who you want to pick for marketing your business. You have nano influencers, micro influencers and macro influencers. With big influencers, you get lot of followers. With small influencers, you get lot of interaction.
Nativity has become quite a thing in this decade. When your business has reach into regions where English is not the first language of the target audience, it only makes sense to translate your ads into their native languages. It will be surprising for you to know that there are still more people in the world who don’t understand English than those who do. Your English advertisements might work to some extent, but they cannot be as effective as ads in native language. You also have to keep in mind that ads in native language bring you closer to your customers.
When you give them ads in their language, they feel a connection with you. They know that you care about them and thus the ads in their languages. Whether you are creating banner ads, social media marketing campaigns or emails, you should have your ads translated in the language that your target audience understands the best. You can also use the professional services from native translators to make your ads as natural as possible. Keep away from Google translation or any other software-based service for that matter. They translate everything word by word and that can sound very weird to the native people.
That’s another mistake that many new businesses make. In their minds, they are trying to cover as many people as possible, but that’s just a mistake. You have so many different types of social networks today that taking care of all is just not possible unless you have a big team of professionals taking care of all these accounts. What you have to do is go step by step. Do some things at first and leave the rest for later. Do those later and leave some more to a later time. Not to mention, you don’t find your target audience everywhere.
For example, if your customers are mostly women, YouTube might not be the best thing for you to target women. The best place where you will find women is Pinterest. According to the recent statistics, more than 80% of the users on Pinterest are women. So, if you are targeting males then Pinterest might not be the best place to start. Similarly, if your product is for professionals, the best social network is LinkedIn for you. You have to start from a point that serves you the best rather than going all in.
The mistakes that many new business owners make can have an even longer list. However, this list is more relevant to the modern type of marketing that majorly revolves are digital and internet marketing. When starting a business, it is best to learn from the mistakes of others because a mistake you make can cost you thousands of even millions of dollars depending on the size of your business. It all starts with knowing your audience to the core. Once you know your audience, you can develop a strong connection with them. Once you have a strong connection with them, things start to fall in place automatically.
When you start a business, you are filled with all the passion and excitement in the world. You are thinking optimistically about how your customers will love your product and how you will expand your business into new territories. However, things do not always go as planned, and one must keep that in mind. No matter how hard you try, the success of your business still relies on the response from the customers. They are the ones in power without them even knowing about it. When a business starts to fail, it is a test for a true business owner.
If you think that a failed business attempt makes you a bad businessperson, you might want to think again. Evan Williams is one of the co-founders of Twitter, one of the biggest social networks on the internet today. However, there was a time when he started Odeo, a platform for podcasts, which failed miserably. Similarly, there are hundreds of other examples of people who failed at first but then made big comebacks. In reality, a bad business owner is one who cannot identify when it is time to close the business down and continues to take the damage.
Let’s take a look at some of the signs that tell you that your business needs to be shut down. If you have a way to change things completely, do that. If you plan to continue as is despite the clear signs, you are only hurting yourself emotionally and financially.
Your customers are the strength of your business. You need more strength every day. The last thing you want to see is reducing customer count on your business reports. Of course, you have many different ways to reach out to new customers. You have to do some more intelligent marketing and try to get more customers as soon as you can. However, if you have been trying your best but your customer count is not increasing, it could be a signal that your business needs to be shut down.
It is important to know that you have to look at the customer count in multiple ways. First, you have the existing customers. Secondly, you have to look at the rate of making new customers. If your existing customers are going down, your next action should be to look at the rate at which you are making new customers. If this rate is faster than your customer turnover, you should not worry much. However, if your customer acquisition is going down and your customer retention is getting worse with time, it is better to close the business down unless you have some big plan in mind.
Financial stress is a part and parcel to any business. However, there is a difference between thinking about how to increase profits and thinking of how to reduce the damage. If you find yourself always worrying about worsening financial condition, take it as a signal. The owner of a successful business is thinking about expansion into new territories, improving service standards, bettering customer experience, etc. On the other hand, the owner of a failing business is mostly worried about survival. Are your financial worries associated with your survival?
If it has only been a few months since you started your business, the worry is natural and understandable. However, if you have been going like this for several months without any relief, it is better that you take the big decision. Keep in mind that chronic stress can be a cause of many physical illnesses. From diabetes to heart conditions, stress can cause all of that when you are dealing with it on a daily basis. If not for other things, close the business down and do something else for the sake of your health.
Once again, you have to understand the difference between not being able to fulfill an order from a customer and paying the rent of your building. If you have a big order from your customer and you can’t fulfill it, you might just be short on your cash flow. Shortage of cash flow does not necessarily mean a failing business. In fact, all the new and small businesses have certain cash flow problems in the beginning. You can arrange some loans, fulfill the orders, make a loyal customer, and recover your costs when the customer pays for the products/services.
On the other hand, when you can’t even afford the fixed expenses of your business, you are in a huge trouble. There should never be a point where you can’t pay the rent of the office space or the building you have rented for your business. You should never have troubles paying the utility bills because that just goes to show that you don’t have any money as backup. When you don’t have a backup and you can’t pay your fixed expenses, you should wrap things up. The only other way out is to get a loan. However, getting a loan to pay the fixed expenses of your business can be the worst decision you can make.
You cannot blame the employees when this happens. They came to work with you because they have their own expenses. They have families to manage and many other financial troubles. The salary you pay to them keeps them working. However, mature employees are quick to realize when a company is on the brink of closure. A monthly compensation is not enough for them because job security and a stable financial future are two important considerations for them. They don’t want to stay with a company that will not be around in the coming months.
When they have analyzed the situation fully well, they leave your company. The biggest sign is when the employees you trust the most start leaving too. They can’t see a future with you and it is not their fault if they don’t stay with you. Loyalty is one thing, but they can’t pay their utility bills with loyalty or feed it to their children.
This is the most painful part of a failing business for the business owner. Somewhere in your mind, you are always ready to face challenges and hoping that you will be out of your troubles at some point. However, when you see that others can sense your business failing, it is not a good sight at all. You can’t ignore it no matter how much you want. You can sense it from the people look at you when they talk to you or with their facial expressions when they enter your business premises. You might even face some unusual questions from the people who come for the interview.
For example, an interviewee might ask something like, “What are the peak working hours of your company (while looking around searching for people)?” In short, they are trying to ask if there are any other people working for the company. A business that’s experiencing growth has hustle and bustle in the office or within the premises. If it all looks gloomy and quiet, and there are not enough people, it is a sign that people notice very quickly.
As unfair as it might sound, your customers might stop taking you seriously when they see that your business is failing. Humans should be concerned about other humans, but that’s not always the case in the practical world. In reality, your partners and customers are willing to go the extra mile for you when they can expect something from you in return. However, when they know that you are at a point where you can’t offer them any value, they stop caring about you. You might notice that in the way your customers pay you. Are they delaying your payments and seem complacent while doing that? If yes, they are not serious with clearing your invoices in the first place.
The problem in this situation is that even you can’t pressurize them to pay you the money they owe you. That’s because you are afraid you might infuriate them and lose any chances of getting your money back. You have to play the nice guy for as long as you can, but late payments from the customers are hurting your business on a daily basis.
Not having enough money to grow the business is one thing, but sometimes you don’t have enough cash to even fix the little problems with your business. For example, an electricity board might be waiting to get fixed for a long time, but you never had enough spare cash to spend on it. You might be noticing that the paint is coming off the walls but you can’t dare go for a paint job because you don’t have the money to do so. You can notice that the sign outside your business premises looks worn out, dusty, and old, but you can’t do anything about it no matter what you want.
When even the little issues like these become hard to fix, you should be clear in your mind that the business needs to be closed. Once again, you are highly advised not to go for a loan from anyone for something that does not yield any returns.
The least you can expect from your business is a salary for yourself. If you don’t have enough cash to renovate or grow the business, that’s okay. You can continue to run the business steadily and wait for the time when you have enough cash to do those things. However, if you are not even able to manage your own salary from the business, you should not take that lightly. It is a serious concern because you might want to start a job to pay yourself. Being employed and running a business at the same time just to pay yourself is not healthy. It will be a lot of stress and can take a toll on your health as well.
A lot of business people continue working for some time and quite their jobs when their business has reached a certain level of earning. If that’s part of the plan then it is a good thing. However, if you can’t quite your job because you think quitting it will get you in all sorts of financial troubles then your business is not doing what it is supposed to do. You are probably putting money from your pocket into your business. When you think of quitting your job, you know you will have no money to support yourself and your business. In short, you are managing everything from the salary you are getting from your employer. Your business is only a burden for you.
If you notice the biggest entrepreneurs of the world and their first advice to someone who they think have a great opportunity at hand, they often tell them to quit their jobs. In fact, they would even go to the extent of telling students to quit studies. That’s because a successful business gives you everything that a job never can. However, if the thought of quitting the job worries you, your business is only a source of sucking your cash up.
There is no shame in admitting to yourself that your business is not successful. It is a sign of a successful and strong leader to realize the mistakes and improve them with a plan. Not realizing your faults, mistakes, and damages unless you have a reached a point of total devastation is what a true failure looks like. Before you even start a business, you need to set an exit point. You have to create a checklist of items that will trigger an exit for you. When you analyze your business and notice that it checks every box on that checklist of failure triggers, you have to make sure you close the business down before suffering any further loss.
In the digital world, you have to think of unique ways to market your business, product, and services to your potential customers. While the methods of digital marketing are already defined, you can experiment a lot using them. If you can understand human psychology, you can use a variety of ways to get customers to do business with you. One of the ways to influence your customers is with the help of social signals. You can use online social signals to get the attention of your customers and convince them to buy from you.
Believe it or not, social signals can answer a lot of questions on a customer’s mind without your involvement. They can also remove a lot of barriers that prevent a new customer from buying from you for the first time. Let’s define social signals first and then get into the many types of that exist and how they help you with marketing.
Social signals are the indicators in the online world that compel your customers to take a certain decision. In this particular case, you are compelling the customer that you are a business that customer should sign up with. These signals make a customer feel comfortable with your business in the online social community. When a customer looks at these signals, the thought process is something like this, “Everyone else is doing this, so I should do this too” or “No one else is doing this, so I better keep away from doing this too”.
While the impact of social signals on the search engine optimization remains debated, there is no doubt that they have a huge impact on the perception of the customers. Some common examples of social signals are views, shares, likes, subscriptions, followers, downloads, number of customers etc.
The first and the most commonly found social signal on the internet is view count. The view count could be the number of views of a page or a video. Views are mostly associated with videos. Whether you upload a video on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or some other famous social networking website, you will notice that there is a view counter right beneath the video. Go to any video service on the internet and it will always be there. It is not there without a reason. Of course, it is one of the most powerful social signals.
The idea of view count is to show the customers that your content is worth watching. It also has a huge impact on your brand as a whole. The view count on the videos you post on social media show your popularity to the people as a brand. When you don’t have any views on your videos, it could hurt your image. Conversely, when you have a lot of views, they send a very positive signal to the people about your brand.
Shares can be associated with your videos and other social media posts as well. They play the most significant role in popularizing your blog posts. When you write blog posts, one of your aims is to present yourself as the thought leader. For that to happen, you need some strong social signals that can show your customers that your content is worth sharing. The numbers of shares on your content instantly sends a signal to the customer that it is some worthwhile content. It compels them to read the post.
This particular social signal is most important when you want to establish your authority on a subject. If you are a tech company and there is a tech blog post with lots of shares, it establishes your brand’s authority in the tech community and people who are interested in tech-related topics.
If there is something more important than view count, it is the number of likes on your content. Likes are everywhere on social media. From YouTube videos to Facebook posts and Tweets on Twitter. On different platforms, you will see the same social signal with different names and shapes. That’s because every social network wants to be different from the other. On Facebook, you have a likes or the thumbs up sign. On Twitter, you have it in the shape of a heart. On Google Plus, you have +1s whereas on Reddit it is in the form of Upvotes. All of these signals mean the same thing i.e. the public likes your content.
Once again, likes are a way to show your popularity to your customers. It is also a way for you to show new customers how much your existing customers like you. If they are liking your content, they must like you as a brand too.
Subscriptions are not as commonly discussed as likes and shares, but they are heavier in their influence than these two social signals. Subscription means converted customers whereas likes and shares don’t indicate that. A person who likes and shares your YouTube video is not necessarily a loyal customer. On the other hand, subscription means just that. This customer does not want to miss any update from you. In addition to that, you have paid subscriptions. They are a critically important social signal for companies that sell services.
By showing the numbers of subscriptions, you can show your new customers how many people trust you already. Your subscriptions can also show people the size of your business. Most importantly, you are showing your customers that others have trusted you and they should not have a problem trusting you either.
Followers are like subscriptions but they are more limited to the social media. When you create a business page or profile on social media, people can add you to their friends, networks, circles, etc. Your number of followers is a sign of your brand’s popularity. The more followers you have on social media, the bigger the brand your customers will consider you. However, having a lot of followers is not easy to maintain. What you have to do is interact with them as frequently as possible. You can’t simply rely on the number of followers you have.
If you have a million followers but the numbers of likes on your post are not more than 1000 on average, that’s a bad sign. It can mean a lot of things. It can mean that your followers don’t interact with you or it can either mean that your followers are fake. If it is proved that you have fake followers, you might end up with your brand reputation completely marred.
If you were to weigh the importance of social signals and you had likes, shares, and views on one side whereas comments on the other side, the side with the comments will be heavier. That’s because comments are an indication of your interaction with your audience. How you talk to your customers directly affects your brand’s image and reputation. It also sets the tone of the relationship between you and your customers. One of your product videos might have millions of views, but what if the comments show that most of the customers are actually bashing the product rather than liking it?
You must always try to get some response from your customers and that requires some skills. The way you interact with your followers, subscribers, viewers, customers, etc. can help a new customer decide whether to do business with you or not.
All of the social signals stated above were more directed towards your blogs and social media interactions. However, there are some social signals that have to go on your website. One of the most important website social signals is the customer count. When people see your business for the first time, they are reluctant to provide you their personal information or pay you for your services and products. They want the assurance that doing business with you will be a good decision. That’s where the customer count works.
Provide the customer count on your website using a big font so the new prospects can see how many have already bought from you. Your customer count also shows prospects the size of your business. Customer count is a critical aspect of marketing for B2B businesses. B2B relations are based solely on trust and reputation i.e. there are no emotions involved. To win the business of another company, you have to show it that there are other big customers who have trusted you already. You can give customer count a twist by stating repeating customers rather than new customers too. That’s even more reassuring for new customers.
This is yet another social signal that can work wonders on the website. Showing the number of awards on your website is a way to build trust with your customers. You will often see this type of social signal on the websites of businesses that sell software solutions. It matters a lot to show the awards your business or product has won over the years to make customers pick you over your competitors. Such a social signal is extremely important when you don’t have a lot different from your competitor. Two antivirus companies might be providing different software tools but with similar features.
The only way you can win a customer over is by showing him/her that you have proven your product to the experts. Mentioning the awards your product has won is just that. It establishes trust and gives a solid reason to the customers why they should pick your product over your competitors’.
Reviews can be in many different formats as well. First, you can have the reviews appear on your website as well. However, customers are not very willing to trust the reviews on your website as they think you will filter out the bad ones. You also have reviews on other retailer websites that sell your products such as Shopify, Amazon, etc. Another type of review is the one coming from experts. You might have seen websites that compare various products, their features, benefits, disadvantages, etc. to give customers an expert opinion on which one they should pick.
The more positive and real reviews you have, the more your customers will trust you. On websites like Amazon, it is the positive reviews that really boost the sales of the products.
Again, you can have the rating in many different places as well. You can put the rating given to you by the most recognized and trusted reviewing websites right on your home page. This type of rating is very effective in helping a customer pick your product. A high rating means that your product is trusted by reviewers and customers. Positive ratings combined with positive reviews are just enough to help you sell your product more. The best way to use the ratings to your advantage is to make them visible on the home page of your website.
Testimonials are more like positive reviews. These are customers who once used your product or service and were so happy that they felt like writing something positive about you. Testimonials usually appear on your website as well. Testimonials look great on one-page website designs. If you have received testimonials from a big company, you should definitely have it on your website because that builds trust in your B2C and B2B community. Keep away from fake testimonials because that’s bad marketing and customers are wise enough to recognize them too.
You can keep on digging deeper to discover many other types of social signals as well. The idea is to send positive signals to your customers about your brand. It can be anything small or big. A business serving multiple countries should not mind showing on its home page how many countries it is serving. Sometimes, you can be more specific with your signals as well. For example, rather than showing the customers count, you can show the logos of the companies that happen to be your customers. The possibilities are endless. You just have to know how you can use these signals to your advantage.