Top 10 Marketing Mistakes Solopreneurs Make

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Serial entrepreneur gives her two cents on the unsuspecting marketing mistakes solopreneurs make.

"B uild it and they will come" is a convenient lie many entrepreneurs tell themselves late at night, while everyone is asleep . This lie is similar to believing that you can loose weight and still gorge on that box of cookies if you exercise enough. If building your business is akin to exercise, then marketing is your business's nutrition. If you avoid these major mistakes, your chance of success is greater:

1. Blindly copying what other marketers are doing

It was hard enough to get your business operational and now that your focused on marketing it, you're brain dead. In a fit of frustration, you do what we all do, Google it, "how to market my business:" You get inspired by what has worked for others and decide that you need to purchase some ads, get on all social media platforms, contemplate affiliate marketing and start writing trite blog articles.

While your intentions are good, your fallacy is assuming that what works for someone else will also work for you. Instead of being critical of the marketing tactics suggested, mistakes are replicated and poor results are justified as normal. Your business is unique, make sure to customize your marketing efforts and question marketing status quo.

Examples of blindly copying what other marketers are doing:
  • Going to a free networking hoping that you will meet the appropriate people. Why not, host your own networking event and make sure that not only your business gets publicity, but the right type of people attend.
  • Buying cheap business cards knowing that they will simply be collected and gather dust in someone's drawer. If you insist on business cards, be selective about who you give and get business cards from and connect with LinkedIn.
  • Cold calling because others are doing it. Instead, warm up a lead by first finding a commonality.
  • 2. Doing too many marketing activities

    The worst thing to happen any solopreneur is to be able to do 1,001 things successfully. Why? Operating at such a high level takes discipline and focus and gives you the false impression that you are invincible. As a result, you are tempted to do as many marketing activities as possible. However, you underestimated just how long it takes to do it all.

    Eventually, the business that was supposed to give you freedom is taking up all of your time. You're getting tired and you in the name of progress and consistency, you dare not stop. But, you can stop and your business will not fail because of it. Pick one marketing strategy and focus. By limiting yourself to only one marketing strategy at a time, your more likely to choose a strategy that guarantees results. Note, a marketing strategy is composed of multiple marketing activities that work cohesively to maximize results.

    3. Being cheap

    There's a difference between being cheap and being thrifty and resourceful. When you are cheap, you sacrifice quality and time in favor of spending less. Being thrifty and resourceful means spending your money on what matters and being creative with what you already have. While money may be tight, choosing to do everything yourself limits your ability to focus on what you are really good at. Just because you can do it yourself, doesn't mean you should. You can create your own website, design your own marketing materials, do your bookkeeping, draft your own contracts, but wouldn't it be more effective to hire a professional? Sites like fiverr.com make it affordable for you to contract help and university students are always looking for extra income.

    Being cheap also extends to not spending the necessary money to properly market your business. For example, there is temptation to purchase a cheaper smaller ad, instead of an expensive large print ad; however, the return on the large ad is much greater and cost-effective than the small ad. When evaluating how to spend your money, always assess the return and opportunity cost .

    4. Being impatient

    Even with no-brainer services and products, a potential customer will be hesitant to buy what you are selling. The more interactions a potential customer has with your brand, the more likely they will trust and purchase from you. Even with no-brainer services and products, potential customers experience hesitation and uncertainty. Just because you do not see activity, does not mean that your marketing is not working.

    A brand interaction can be measured in how many times the potential client sees your ad, follows your social media activity, reads about you in the press or hears about you from a friend. Each interaction has its own effectiveness, for example a referral from friend holds more weight than an advertisement; however, the combination of various interactions is most effective.

    5. Not realizing that no marketing strategy is a actually a strategy

    Just like everything you do and say makes a positive and negative impression, the opposite is also true. Unfortunately, your every action, or lack of action, is scrutinized and judged. For example, how you respond to emails and how frequently affects the receiver's perception of you. It may not be fair, but false assumptions are common place. Ask yourself what forms of communication have you taken for granted (email, voicemail, phone, inactive social media accounts) and how would your customer describe you based on their interaction with you.

    6. Not following up

    The cheapest and most effective marketing strategy is to follow-up with potential and existing customers; however, fear and/or forgetfulness often get in the way. Unless someone explicitly lets you know that they are not interested, you should check up on them periodically. Take note of how they prefer to be communicated with and what time of day. As a rule of thumb, at least personalize the message by addressing their name."It's never too late to follow up. The worst that could happen is that they let you know they are not interested", says Pamela Ogang, founder of PR Hound.

    "It's never too late to follow up. The worst that could happen is that they let you know they are not interested"

    Pamela Ogang, founder of PR Hound

    7. Not being able to explain your business and its value in 30 seconds or less

    As the founder of your business, you are forgiven for trying to describe all the intricacies of your product or service. Though cliched, your business is similar to an iceberg. While you have visibility of the complete iceberg, others only see the tip of the iceberg. Without gaining perspective, it is difficult to communicate your business and its value in a sentence or few words.

    To start, find an individual, ideally your ideal customer, to describe your business to you. Ask them why they would purchase your product or service. Take note of the keywords they use. This process takes time, but if a potential customer cannot understand why they want what you are selling, you will have a hard time making money.

    8. Trying to sell to everyone

    "Besides clients who insist that everyone will want what they are selling, my pet peeve is business owners who describe their target market based simply on age, gender and income", Pamela Ogang. Often forgotten is the psychology of the target market. For instance, while 'everyone' needs toilet paper, we all don't buy the same brand. Someone who values spending less will favor a no-name brand, while another who describes themselves as a tree hugger would prefer an environmentally-friendly brand. When you do not account for an individual's lifestyle, values and beliefs, it is too easy to employ multiple conflicting marketing activities.

    "Besides clients who insist that everyone will want what they are selling, my pet peeve is business owners who describe their target market based simply on age, gender and income"

    Pamela Ogang

    9. Not asking for what you want

    It's embarrassing to find out that a customer was willing to purchase from you, but they didn't because you never asked. Perhaps you never asked because of insecurity, but you cannot expect others to be telepathic. Make sure your ask is clear and specifies an action that you want an individual to take (e.g. "click here"). Don't hope that a potential customer will be able to read between the lines.

    Asking for what you want also applies to joint partnerships. In all relationships, there is a give and take. If you are not clear about how you want others to reciprocate, you create discomfort, which they will try to dispel as soon as possible in whatever way they see fit. Unfortunately, if they do not reciprocate the way you want, you'll often feel resentment.

    10. Ignoring Public Relations

    A common misconception is that Public Relations (PR) is all about getting media attention. In reality, PR involves managing your relationship with the public: employees, customers, suppliers, community, investors and media. Each member of the public is able to talk to each other and exert influence. Many activities constitute PR, such as sending a thank you note or applying for an industry award, and these activities are typically cost-effective. You can learn more about PR at PR School'd (prhound.com/pr-schoold).