At Raine Digital, we’ve spent over a decade helping entrepreneurs start, grow, and scale their businesses. During that time, we’ve discovered some pretty common mistakes that can be easily avoided with a little guidance.
Mistake 1: Lack of Research and Testing
There are so many times I will meet with a new entrepreneur who’s excited to get started building their new business endeavor, only to find out through conversations with them that they aren’t quite ready to dive into full scale marketing. Why? Because they haven’t proved that the business idea is worth pursuing.
For example, we had a prospect reach out to us about an invention idea they were working on. They had begun working with a manufacturer to produce the prototypes of their device, which sounded like it could have been a game-changer for their industry. Pursuing the production of these prototypes and launching into full scale manufacturing and marketing would have cost them upwards of $1M in startup costs. However, in our discovery conversations, we learned that they had not completed any market research. They agreed to allow us to complete market research for them, and what we found was detrimental to their idea. It turned out that a robotics company was already three years into the production of something comparable to their idea, but with more automation, and was taking pre-orders for a product that would have made this prospect’s idea a dinosaur before it even went to market.
By doing market research and fully understanding as much as possible about the market they would be entering, this client discovered that the risk was too high given where the competition was, and it saved them a significant amount of money.
Mistake 2: Poor Focus and Positioning
Another common mistake I see is when entrepreneurs and small businesses are trying to market their brands without a clear focus and brand position. What I mean by this is, they lack a cohesive brand image and fail to deliver marketing messages that resonate with their target audience.
For example, many years ago we had a prospect come to us who was struggling to get results from their marketing. They hired us to do an audit of their existing marketing plan to see if we could identify the problem. During our audit, one of the many issues we uncovered (and were able to remedy) was that the client had three different logos going out to three different marketing channels. They had one logo that was on the backglass of their company vehicles. They had another logo on their website. Then, they had a third logo on all of their social media accounts. While this may not sound like a major problem, this was destroying any opportunity for building brand awareness and recognition in the community. Studies show that consumers have to see a brand 7-12 times before they even recall seeing it, let alone positioning that brand at the top of their minds for when they need that brand’s services. For this client, their variety of logos was causing confusion among consumers, and requiring triple the marketing touches to build any kind of brand recognition in the community.
Mistake 3: Marketing Without a Clear, Cohesive Strategy
The third most common mistake we see is entrepreneurs with a marketing strategy that works against itself instead of cohesively. Many new entrepreneurs and small businesses get started with small marketing budgets as they bootstrap their startup. Bootstrapping and small budgets aren’t a bad thing, as a matter of fact, we love working with the bootstrappers who are on a mission to build something from scratch. We love that scrappy can-do attitude. The challenge comes in when the marketing execution of that small budget isn’t cohesive. As a matter of fact, the smaller the budget, the stronger and more cohesive the marketing has to be in order to see results.
For example, a couple of years ago, during the covid pandemic, we had a prospect come to us for some of our a la carte services. They needed a new website, but were utilizing freelancers for their different areas of marketing. They ultimately hired us to build a new website, and then asked if we could audit their marketing performance. What we found was that because they had hired one freelancer for social media, another freelancer for Google Ad management, and another for direct mail, nothing was working with anything else.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re huge advocates of a multi-channel marketing strategy, but all those elements should be working together. Their mailers used completely different marketing messaging than their social media did. Their social media offers differed greatly from their Google Ads. Because they had multiple different vendors working on multiple different campaigns, with no collaboration among them, nothing was cohesive- and it confused consumers.
By bringing all of those elements together, under one marketing manager, the client was able to make all of those elements work together, and ultimately increase their marketing return on investment significantly.
Marketing Mistake 4: Failing to Capture Repeat Customers
I remember many years ago, long before Raine Digital existed, finding myself sitting across the table at a coffee shop listening to a friend of mine attempt to recruit me into her Mary Kay downline. While selling Mary Kay was never in the cards for me, (no hate, it’s just not my thing), she said something that I still hear in my head to this day. She said, “I don’t need hundreds of customers to achieve my business goals, I just need happy customers who will keep ordering from me.” She was right. Her customers used her product and then washed it down the drain after they finished washing their faces. She understood the power of strong customer relationships.
Too often I see entrepreneurs leave money on the table because they fail to capture repeat business. This is wild to me, especially considering that acquiring a new customer can cost 5 times more than acquiring a repeat customer.
To acquire a repeat customer, you have to have a marketing strategy in place to maintain a strong relationship with that consumer. Often the best way to do that is through email and text message marketing. Over 60% of consumers like to receive marketing emails from the brands they enjoy, and text messages have over a 98% open rate. These are two very inexpensive ways to market to existing customers and capture their repeat business. Just make sure you have their explicit permission to market to them in that way to ensure your business is operating in a compliant manner with federal regulations.
Marketing Mistake 5: Lack of Focus on What the Prospective Customer Needs
The fifth most common mistake we see entrepreneurs make is to try to develop products and services that they want rather than focusing on delivering products or services that solve the customers problems.
For example, I met with a prospective customer who had a very unique style and a very unique personality. This client was working on designing some of her own lifestyle products to sell to consumers at home shows and things like that. The problem was that she kept designing products that fit her style instead of her target audience’s style. Once she realized that, and began to survey her customers on what they’d like to see from her, she was able to gain valuable insights into what her consumers really wanted from her. The good news was, it turned out that most of her customers just wanted to see minor variations to a lot of her designs along with a wider variety of color choices to match their decor. Once she began to implement these requests, her sales began to rapidly increase.
The bottom line here is, as an entrepreneur, we cannot be so glued to our ideas that we forget about the customers we’re delivering to. It’s important to ask for feedback and be willing to make changes based on that feedback.