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Top 3 marketing fails (and how to avoid them)

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Top 3 marketing fails (and how to avoid them)

Sabri Suby

Many businesses fall into the same common traps when it comes to marketing, a digital marketer has suggested, adding that getting it wrong can be the difference between having a business and a hobby.

Sabri Suby (pictured), founder of marketing agency King Kong and author of the book Sell Like Crazy, told My Business that there are some common mistakes businesses make when it comes to marketing.

But, he said, they can be easily avoided with preparation and planning.

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1. Being too pushy

In a colourful analogy, Mr Suby likened one of the biggest marketing mistakes of businesses with the dating process.

“Most people are walking into bars asking complete strangers to get together with them,” he said.

“What I mean by that is then there is no wining and dining process. They shout ‘we’ve got the biggest range, we’ve got the best prices, just come and buy our stuff right now’. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Under the analogy, a lack of customer engagement amounted to “walking up to a stranger and asking them to marry you”.

“In just the same way, it doesn’t make sense to go to a complete stranger and ask them to buy a $10,000 service from you straight off the bat. You want to lead with something of value up front, and then start the dialogue.”

Solution: Encourage people to talk about you and ultimately become advocates of your business.

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“Get those people to raise their hand as being somebody that’s interested in your business’s offering, and then provide value to them. You’ll have a lot of people saying, ‘Wow, this is really great. I want to see what would happen if I paid this person to do this for my business’,” Mr Suby said.

Video producer and founder of Serious Levity, Michael Langdon recently told My Business about the ways businesses can use video marketing as part of their customer engagement strategy, noting that 80 per cent of all the internet traffic is now video traffic.

“No matter your industry, video is the most engaging medium out there — you need it to stay relevant,” he said.

2. Cutting marketing spend too hard

Another mistake, according to Mr Suby, is to devalue marketing below its true value to the business.

“One of the biggest mistakes business owners make is to look at advertising and marketing as a cost to their business and not an investment. They look at it on their P&L statement and decide, ‘Oh, that’s a cost. I’ve got to reduce that cost as much as I can’,” he said.

“That’s a scarcity mindset and it’s what keeps most business owners really broke. In fact, it can result in them closing their doors because they wear it as a badge of honour that they don’t do any advertising.

“They very quickly find out that they’ve just been operating their business on what I call ‘hope and a prayer marketing’, where they just get down on their knees and hope that a prospect will call them that day, or they’ll get a referral, and they don’t have a predictable way to grow their business.”

Solution: Focus on deliverables and a strategy to maximise the return on investment.

“You should be able to know that if you put one dollar in your marketing, three dollars will come back out. There is no other investment vehicle that can reliably do that for you, but good marketing should do that.”

Adore Beauty founder and CEO Kate Morris explained back in 2016 that, for her business, the value of spending money on Facebook ads goes beyond the customers it directly attracts.

Instead, she said having the ads on people’s feeds on a regular basis helped place her business front of mind when it came time for them to make a purchase.

However, it can become a trap to continually feed money into the advertising machine, with strategic planning and budgeting required to maximise the benefit of any money spent on marketing.

3. Relying on a good product or service to sell itself

“If you don’t have a way to sell that product or service, then you don’t have a business. You just have a hobby,” Mr Suby said.

“[It’s a mistake to think] that it’s enough to have a great product or service, or have great customer service or a really talented team, or whatever it might be. Those things are all critical to running a successful business.”

Solution: Have a strategy on how to sell your product or service

“You want to be asking, ‘How do I actually sell this?’ And then, once you sell it, you take those funds and reinvest them into your product or service, and you make it the best that there is,” Mr Suby explained.

“But you need to be spending the majority of your time on activities that I call ‘moving the money needle’: What are those 20 per cent of activities that you do in your business that produce 80 per cent of the revenue? That’s where you want to be spending the bulk of your time in the business.”

Earlier this year, SEO Shark unveiled an analysis of the most expensive items to market on the internet, explaining that the cost can vary drastically between industries, products and target audiences.

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Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Top 3 marketing fails (and how to avoid them)
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