Most business owners make mistakes when they first start their business. Many of us start without much training or experience in the nuances of business, marketing, finance and other key ideas. When I first became self employed in 2016 (two full years before founding The Whin), I mostly bumbled along with my OWN marketing through networking and word of mouth.
I WANTED to be good at online marketing, but most of what I’d learned came from certifications through HubSpot, and Google, and the free workshops of the Business Gateway and the Princes Trust. None of these training courses really got into the details of what I needed to know about online marketing, so I made a lot of mistakes.
Now that I’ve learned better, my business runs more smoothly, and ACTUALLY makes enough money for me to live off! These insights are key to the marketing training offered in the All-in-Whin Marketing Method, so if any of the mistakes feel familiar, you might want to take a look!
Here are the four marketing mistakes I wish I’d sorted sooner!
Trying to be everywhere at once.
There’s a LOT of social media platforms that you could be using. Step 1 of starting a business seems to be to go on all of them and create a profile for your business.
But actually posting on all those social channels sucks. It takes so much time and creativity to come up with posts just for one channel – trying to do all of them is a recipe for failure or burn out.
Although you might experiment with different platforms before you find your favourite, after a few weeks you need to make a choice.
The best marketing strategies focus on ONE social media platform at a time.
First you get really good at Instagram and build an audience there. THEN you diversify and start building your audience on Pinterest or TikTok. THEN you might consider adding a third platform as well, with some help from automation, batching or hiring an assistant!
When I first started I was posting to 3 or 4 different profiles all at the same time. I didn’t know which platform was most important to me, and I didn’t have a strategy to build a community and grow my business.
When I consider all the time I spent Tweeting when I could have been doubling down on LinkedIn, I get a wee tinge of regret! We live and we learn!
Not taking my email list seriously
On the topic of Things I Could Have Been Doing Instead of Tweeting, writing an email newsletter is pretty near the top of the list.
My early attempts at an email list were a bit half hearted. I’d meet people at networking events and get their business cards When I emailed them to connect afterwards, I’d share the link to sign up for my mailing list.
Unsurprisingly, most people didn’t sign up.
Because there were only about 15 people on the list, I didn’t feel like it was worth spending time writing the newsletters, and because I wasn’t writing the newsletters, I didn’t feel great about encouraging people to sign up! It was a bit of a downward spiral.
But here’s the thing I didn’t figure out until later:
People don’t sign up because they’re excited to read your emails, they sign up because they think you can get them results.
They sign up when you share a freebie or a discount or some kind of ‘test drive’ of your products or services in exchange for your email address. Then they read your emails BECAUSE they liked the free thing AND you’ve got engaging subject lines and good content.
So you have to START writing the good emails and offering the good freebies when your list is teeny tiny, because it won’t grow at all if you don’t.
Does it feel strange to put all that time and effort into creating content that only 30 people will see? A little bit! But if someone gave you the opportunity to give a ten-minute talk at a networking event of 30 people, would that feel like a waste of time? 30 people feels like a much bigger group when you can see all their faces!
My last email newsletter of 2020 went out to 201 people, but I only really focussed on BUILDING that list in the last year. If I’d started 4 years ago…. I can only imagine how many people I’d be reaching now!
Lacking clarity about my services
Another mistake I made early on was to try and describe my services in a way that made everyone feel included. I wasn’t sure about the kind of customers I wanted, so I wanted to try and appeal to as many people as possible. Instead of being really clear about what I was good at and WANTED to offer, I left things really open and tried to encourage people to get in touch and tell me about their projects so I could make up a service package which exactly suited them.
This… did not go well. People find it really hard to imagine what’s possible when you keep it vague or overly ‘flexible’. It’s much easier if you can list case studies of past projects, or better yet, defined services that have clear pricing, timescales and benefits.
Make sure you give details on:
- what you do,
- who it’s for,
- how long it takes and
- how much it costs.
That makes it so much easier for people to reach out to you and say “I like this but can we tweak it?”
Instead of an overview of digital marketing and a list of EVERY POSSIBLE task which might be included, I now have a page on my website which lists two specific consultancy packages. There’s a one-off Instagram Power Hour, and a monthly Marketing Mastermind. Underneath I do let people know I can do a bespoke package as well, but it’s way easier for people to engage when I’ve got concrete examples right there on the page.
It’s the same for every training course, webinar, freebie, workshop or anything else that I want to offer – there’s a specific page on the website that tells you what it is, who it’s for, how long it takes and how much it costs – with a button to click and sign up. It’s easier for my customers to understand, AND for me to share the information easily when people ask what services I offer.
Shying away from sales
You CANNOT run a business without making sales, and yet so many of us shy away from asking for the sale.
In my mind, I’ve often felt like I don’t want to ASK someone to buy, because if they want to buy, they’ll do that of their own accord. Anytime I have to pitch to someone – either in a consultation call, or on a webinar, or even in a networking meeting – I feel super awkward and usually say at least one thing I regret later.
But that doesn’t mean I get to avoid sales entirely, or else I wouldn’t have much of a business! What I’ve found works best for me is to try, as much as possible, to connect the sales pitch to something I’ve already offered that’s valuable, and usually where I don’t have to deliver it live or unscripted. So in a blog post or a podcast episode, for example, or on an Instagram Story or post.
The more often I say or write out the pitch for a product or service, the more it gets ingrained in my mind, and the less awkward I feel about sharing that same information on a live video or in conversation.
I think of it like this – I’m completely comfortable sharing information about how to follow me on Instagram, how to sign up to my mailing list, where to find the show notes for the podcast episodes, or how to access the freebies that I offer. I don’t get anxious about sharing that information, because I do it ALL the time.
The only thing that’s different about pitching a training course over my email list is that I don’t do it so often, and it costs people money. There’s never going to be a time where it DOESN’T cost money, so I can’t work around that part, but I CAN practise the pitch (and you can too!)
You guessed what comes next….
Each of these marketing mistakes is something I’ve battled with and overcome. I’ve funnelled all of those insights and experiences into the All-in-Whin Marketing Method.
Online marketing is pretty intimidating as a new business owner, and so it’s helped me enormously to develop an easy-to-understand method of marketing my business which I can adapt and repeat across all my different products and services.
Now’s your opportunity to stop muddling through and making it up as you go.
Instead, you can join us on the All-in-Whin training course and learn a marketing method which will work for your business and for you. It’s a 12-week course with training videos, step-by-step guides, exercises to work on in your business, and weekly live training/coaching calls to guide you through everything. You can buy the course once and get life-time access to all future updates, so there’s no pressure to race through everything. And you can use it again and again for different services as your business grows.
There’s lots more information available on the course page, so click the big yellow button below to take a look and get registered. We start in February 2021 – I can’t wait to see you there!