You must be wondering what I’m up to today, with this title. Isn’t it? Yes, I know sometimes article titles indeed attract especially when you land on something related to what you have been grappling with in your business possibly for months or even years. There are no hard rules in the practice of entrepreneurship, but you need to be smart enough to know your left from your right to survive and prosper. I guess you know who pays for the costs of your lack of smartness.
Some entrepreneurs are very good in marketing, some are average, but others are simply not there. Do you get my point? What I mean by not there, is simply that they never exist in terms of expertise, experience and application to marketing. Even if they try to market, they are simply not there and will not get results. Why? One of the areas of drawback is the aspect of assumptions. Big mistakes in marketing are oftentimes made by using big assumptions that in reality hold little water. What are we talking about here? Let’s look at some of these.
- ‘The market knows my products and services, including how and where to get them’. Now, as a starting point, who told you that consumers and buyers have an idea about your products or services? Who told you people know the benefits and unique advantages of your offers? Candidly, how many people have you approached with your offers? Yes – you run adverts over the radio and television, but how many people actually seriously attend to those media you use? Yes – you do internet marketing, but can you assume that the whole world comprises keen internet users? How about those whose internet exposure rotates around emails and What’s Up only? Aren’t you making a big mistake by assuming that people know your products and where to get them?
- ‘People will buy and will continue buying my products’. Consider this Mr. Entrepreneur, how many years have you been in business? Haven’t you seen a couple of other entrepreneurs who walked your path before? Do you really keep in touch with changing trends and demands? Aren’t there alternatives or options available or coming up in that field? Is the world you are living in so static that you expect to be marketing and selling the same thing ten years down the road? Come on!
- ‘Consumers like my product and delivery the way it is’. The fact that you don’t get people complaining or yelling every day about your products or services should not make you operate within your comfort zone. Should it? Of course, occasionally you get the type that will stand at your office and shout complaints for about ten minutes – and disrupt traffic – before cooling down. Yes, they like your products and services, but given opportunity they might want it tweaked a bit. Occasionally they need an overhaul. When did you last actively ask your clients what they dislike about your enterprise and its products and services? In this busy world even businesses that do opinion survey, or operate suggestion boxes, hardly get time to digest the feedback. Am I lying? Let’s speak the truth.
- ‘I know my customers and what they want’. This is another big marketing mistake. I think you have got to assume that you don’t know them, and try always to know and understand them better, to be able to continuously deliver value. Don’t you think so Mr. Entrepreneur? Sometimes you even realise you don’t know people around you. Isn’t this true? Moreover, it’s only natural for people to change with time. Needs and want change. Priorities change. This is why a smart entrepreneur should have some change management skills – not only applied to changing your enterprise but also applied to a changing world and market. You need to continuously court your market, like eagles in love.
- ‘I know my competitors, and they are not a threat to my business’. Never make this mistake unless you want your business to join the dinosaurs. Get what I mean? The day you start thinking that you understand competition like the back and palm of your hand, is the day competition will start taking away portions of your market share as you are busy understanding them. Now, I’m not saying you should not sleep because of competition. Get me right here, and don’t start being creative by sleeping with one eye half-open. Just be smart yet simple.
Mr. Entrepreneur, please try and avoid the above mistakes I have mentioned. Of course there are other marketing mistakes you can list. Can’t you? Don’t wait until you have been bruised by the market for you to quickly jot down your experiences. It’s good if you realise your mistake anyway, rather than arrogantly blaming people for your market failures. You need to learn and relearn. No wonder Jay Conrad Levinson once said, ‘Marketing is not an event, but a process. It has a beginning, the middle, but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause it. But you never stop is completely’.
The Wise Entrepreneur