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Avoid big marketing mistakes. (news).

SPECIAL REPORT--How do you judge the effectiveness of your small business marketing efforts? It's easy. Does it produce results? Great looking ads, fancy logos and flashy Web sites are worthless if they don't bring business to your door. This list of 10 common marketing mistakes can help you produce better results.

1. Not Having a Clearly Defined USP

Do you want to fit in or stand out? In order to thrive in today's cluttered marketplace, every business owner must be able to clearly articulate an answer to the question, "Why should someone do business with you rather than your competitor?" Your answer to these questions constitutes your Unique Selling Proposition. A strong USP helps you to stand out in a crowded field.

2. Selling Features Rather than Benefits

Someone once said, "No one ever bought a drill bit. Millions of people have bought a hole" People don't buy features, they buy benefits. They are tuned into Radio Station W.I.I.F.M. (What's in it for me?) Tell them clearly how the features of your product/service will help them, make their life easier, etc.

3. Not using headlines in print ads

You have a couple of seconds to grab someone's attention when they read a paper or magazine. Using an attention-grabbing headline ensures the reader will continue to read the rest of the ad. The headline is an ad for the ad.

4. Not testing everything

How do you know what ad, what price, what offer most appeals to customers? By putting them to a vote. Test everything. Rather than running one newspaper ad for three weeks, why not run three different ads for three weeks and measure which draws better? Why not price your products/services at different points and see which sells more? Is cheaper always better? Not necessarily. Each situation is unique. One price may outperform another for a myriad of reasons. Your job is not to know why, but to find what works. Test, test, test.

5. Making it difficult to work with you

Is your sales staff knowledgeable about your products? Does someone answer your phone promptly and in a friendly manner? Can people find your phone number and location? Can customers find things easily in your store? Don't make them work--they won't. Your customer has better things to do than struggle to do business with you.

6. Not learning your customer's needs

What is the first step in fulfilling your customer's needs? Discovering what they are. What's most important to them? Don't even try to guess. How do you find out? People won't tell you unless you ask. So ask.

7. Not maintaining a customer database

Your customer list is pure gold. Rather than always working to bring new customers in the door, why not take advantage of the goodwill you have already built with your existing clientele? Experiment with extending special offers to your customer base. Ask for referrals. Send them a card on their birthday. Call and ask what they most enjoyed about doing business with you (or what they disliked doing business with you). You worked hard to develop these relationships. Recognize their value and work hard to "re-delight" them.

8. Not eliminating the risk

What stops a customer from buying from you? Are they unsure that your offer is worth their hard-earned money? Make it easy to decide to buy from you. Offer them a money-back, no-questions-asked guarantee on any product they buy. Give it a try for a month. You may be very pleasantly surprised. Not confident in your product or service? Then go to work on improving your service.

9. Not educating your customers

Don't just claim that your service is better. Explain why. Don't expect people to just take your word for things. Quality, service and value mean nothing. Everyone claims to offer these. Make these claims real for the customer by offering credible explanations why they should do business with you.

10. Not sticking with what works

Do you know which ads are effective? What offer gets the best reaction? By testing, you will. When you find something that works, don't change it until you find something that works better. Just because you're sick of an ad/offer isn't a good enough reason to change it. You can supplement with other ads and offers. If it works, keep it.

Meir Liraz is president of (, a free informational Web site for entrepreneurs and small business owners that provides free guides and tips for starting growing and managing a small business.
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Author:Liraz, Meir
Publication:Art Business News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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