The 10 Marketing Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Immediately

The 10 marketing mistakes you need to stop making immediately - April Bowles-Olin

What makes one business better than the other? What makes you choose one handmade bracelet over another? Why do you read all of your emails from one person while hitting the unsubscribe button from another?

I wish there was an easy answer or some magic fairy dust you could sprinkle over your keyboard to make your business the chosen one. But, it’s a bunch of things that add up to create a business that captivates people.

If you want to get anywhere close to that type of business, you have to stop doing things that turn off your target market. This often means picking the harder route like: spending hours writing and editing thoughtful, personality-filled blog posts instead of slapping together a post that you wrote in ten minutes that includes a less-than-lovely picture, planning a social media strategy that inspires and motivates people instead of only posting on Facebook when you’ve added a new product to your shop, and hiring a web designer to build you a branded, beautiful online home instead of building a junky site when you know nothing about design and html.

You have to decide if you really want this, because it’s not easy. It can be a ton of fun {and it should be}, but it’s also time-consuming and sometimes exhausting.

I hope that you love what you do so much that you’re willing to take the detour. The long way. The back road.

And, I want to help you. That’s why I’ve written this no-nonsense post for you today. Here are the ten marketing blunders you need to stay away from:

1. Stop using lingo you would be embarrassed to say out loud.

Let’s start with awesomesauce. If I could get rid of one word, it would be that one. I’ve never even heard anyone actually say awesomesauce {maybe it’s because I don’t hang out with thirteen-year-olds}, but I read it in blog posts and product descriptions all the time. Why? Does the person seriously use this word? Is she trying to be hip and cool? If so, she’s not succeeding. It looks ridiculous. It doesn’t really mean anything, and unless your target market is a bunch of teenagers, it won’t help you.

Give everything you write ‘the friend test.’ Would you say it to a friend? If not, hit delete. Otherwise, you come off as inauthentic and untrustworthy and people don’t buy from people they don’t trust.

2. Stop putting customer service last.

Your current customers who gave you their money deserve first class treatment. They deserve your attention and they most certainly deserve your appreciation. If you treat your customers like dollar signs—and not like individual people—you won’t have customers for long.

Your customers always have another option. And, if they don’t feel respected and cared for, they’ll go elsewhere.

3. Stop copying someone else’s brand.

The other day I ran across someone who’d branded her digital book {and the sales page} to look almost identical to Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map. Did I give that person’s ebook a second glance? No. Copying automatically turns people off. It’s icky and puts you in the ‘used car salesman’ category.

Instead of copying, get inspiration from the websites, businesses and people that you drool over. Ask yourself, “What do I love so much about this?” Maybe it’s the color palette, so just use that. Or, maybe it’s the boldness of that person’s copy, so be bolder. Pick and choose from what tickles your toes, and you’ll be much more successful.

4. Stop overlooking your crappy brand and website.

Your website is your online home. Your brand is what people notice within the first couple of seconds they land on your site, Etsy shop, and Facebook page. And, within those first few seconds they decide whether to stay or whether to check their email for the thirty-seventh time that day.

If you’re serious about succeeding online, you need to hire a web designer unless you’re a web designer or are willing to learn everything you need to know to create a professional {while still super creative} site.

Way too often, creative entrepreneurs DIY their own sites. Every once in a while, it turns out really nice. But very often, it looks like a mess.

5. Stop recommending that your readers sign up for your monthly {or weekly} newsletter.

These days, we all have email newsletters. {If you don’t, see number 6.} You need to give your readers a very good reason why they should hand over their precious email addresses to you. And having an opt-in that says, “Sign up for my monthly email newsletter,” doesn’t cut it. You need more. And, stop calling it a newsletter altogether. The specific words you choose matter—a lot.

6. Stop thinking you can get by without a thriving email list.

Did you skip the whole ‘setting up an email list’ thing? If you’re nodding your head, I want to shake you right now. You need this because: 1. Email is the best way to stay in touch with your target market. 2. It’s the best way to announce new products, services and sales. 3. People check their email daily. {Most people, anyways.} 4. People don’t hang on your every word and many will miss your blog posts, Facebook updates, Pinterest posts and tweets. If you really want to them to see something, you need to email it.

7. Stop lowering your prices, because you think it’ll help you get your first sales.

This is a horrible marketing tactic for all of these reasons.

8. Stop buying ads that don’t work.

About 80% of the time, when I start to discuss marketing with a creative entrepreneur, she says something like, “I don’t have the money to buy ads,” or “I tried advertising in my local newspaper and it didn’t work,” or “Where should I advertise my business?”

Stop worrying about buying ad space. Often, it doesn’t work the way you think it will. We’ve learned how to block out ads because they’re everywhere. Think about how often you click on ads online. You hardly do, right?

Focus on promoting your business in ways you have more control over: your email list, blog and social media accounts. Build a loyal customer base and readership and you won’t think twice about advertising on Billy Joe’s Blog.

9. Stop putting other peoples’ ads on your website.

Ads distract from what you sell. If you’re a products or service-based business, remove ads from your sidebar. You only make real money from this if you blog daily, have a readership in the hundreds of thousands and concentrate on this as your business model. I’m guessing that’s not you.

10. And, for the love of all things sparkly, stop talking about your kid’s fecal matter on your business social media accounts.

I would also appreciate it if you wouldn’t talk about your kid pooping in the big boy toilet at all. It’s gross. And, no one but you actually cares. Okay, maybe your mom cares, but just call her to give her the good news and spare the rest of us.

Can you tell that I’ve got some pet peeves when it comes to marketing?

What are yours? What do you suggest that people stop doing when it comes to promoting their businesses? What turns you off?

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Need more help with marketing? Take a peek at Marketing for Creatives for everything that you need to know about how to spread the word about your business and boost your sales.

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30 Responses to The 10 Marketing Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Immediately

  1. Marian January 22, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    Thank you for the great input. The pictures of you look as if you are feeling much better. I certainly hope that is the case. Best wishes to you for years and years of good health.

    • April January 22, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

      Hi Marian! Thank you! I actually took these pictures a while ago, but I really appreciate your well wishes.

  2. Valerie January 22, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    I’m sick to death of seeing what people are eating!

    • April January 22, 2014 at 9:25 pm #

      Oh, I love to see food pictures {if they’re good pics} but I can understand how others might not. :)

  3. Jennifer Kennedy January 22, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    A big AMEN to #1!! That word bothers me so much!! I can’t even begin to tell you!

    I enjoy when people are real in their marketing and in their content. Give me the failures and the what didn’t work and how you got around it. It makes you more relatable. I’m not a fan of everything has and will always be peachy.
    Jennifer Kennedy recently posted..Feeling Overwhelmed? 4 Part Blueprint for Designing Your Course

    • April January 22, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

      Isn’t it the worst?!? Ugh…

      So true. I like hearing about the bumps and bruises as well as the successes. Thanks for bringing that up!

  4. Marianne January 23, 2014 at 4:56 am #

    Great advice! So if it shouldn’t be called a newsletter why not and what should it be called instead?

    • April January 23, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

      Hey Marianne! It’s not that BIG of a deal that if you had a web designer put together an opt-in for you and you didn’t want to pay to have it redone or something, then you can live with it. But, it’s really outdated and people don’t want to sign up for newsletters anymore. It conjures up those long emails with that contained about 17 different items that really contained “news” about the business. I suggest changing that lingo if possible, because it makes the email opt-in more attractive.

      Another example is calling a downloadable book an ebook. People tend to think low quality and cheap when you call your book and ebook, so it’s better to use different words. It just makes the product or service more exciting, luxurious and enticing.

      So, it depends on what you’re giving to subscribers on what you should call it. In mine, I don’t really call it anything if you see the sidebar opt-in. Instead, I tell subscribers what they get when they sign up and what my email list helps with.

      I think saying something like, “Get free tips for….” or “Get free updates…” or “Get 15% off your first purchase…” is much better than saying, “Sign up for my email newsletter.” It’s more alluring.

      I hope that helps!

  5. busylizzy111 January 23, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    Great post!
    But… You call it a newsletter yourself (top of the page, not in the sidebar)
    (I am very good at spotting things like that, if anyone wants to hire me *points to chest*)

    • April January 23, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

      I don’t see that anywhere at the top of the page…

      It did say newsletter like a year ago, but I changed it when that became outdated.

      Are you talking about another specific page somewhere?

      • busylizzy111 January 24, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

        How weird! when I clicked over from the email, it asked me to subscribe to the newsletter on the top of this page, over the blogpost. Now, when I come via your homepage, I don’t see it!

        • April January 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

          You know what—I think that’s a ‘pop up’ kinda thing that happens for new readers or people who’ve refreshed their cache. I set it up a looooong time ago. I’m going to have to redo it for sure! Thank you!

        • April January 24, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

          Just checked it. It’s a plug-in called What Would Seth Godin Do…and I did set it up a couple years ago. I just revamped it thanks to you! Thanks for looking out.

          • busylizzy111 February 10, 2014 at 9:58 am #

            No problem! Glad I could help!

  6. jess January 23, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    Hmmm… definitely lots to think about here. Thanks for another great post.
    jess recently posted..Treasury Love

    • April January 23, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

      You’re so welcome!

  7. Tara January 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    You had me at number 1. :) I like ‘the friend test’ idea too. I always enjoy your down to earth, no nonsense approach to business.
    Tara recently posted..violet :: a process post

    • April January 23, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

      Thanks, Tara! I love your header on your site…what a fun font!

  8. Trish January 24, 2014 at 1:10 am #

    Great tips! I have been following you for a long time & have always loved that you are real! Fake peeps drive me nuts!!! Thanks for sharing!

    What about smiley faces? I love to smile & want others to smile so I use :) a lot. Your thoughts?
    Trish recently posted..Favorite Ways to Show Love on Valentine’s Day

    • April January 24, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

      Thanks, Trish! I’m with you about keeping it real…you can smell the fakeness from a mile away.

      Hmmmmm…My personal opinion is to leave smiley faces out of copy: blog posts, product descriptions and email newsletters. But, I often using them when replying to comments and emails. Within your copy, words are much more powerful than emoticons. That’s not a rule, but it’s what I think.

      And when reading, I think smiley faces can be distracting, especially when there are a lot of them. I was recently reading a post that had 7+ smiley and wink faces and it really took away from it. I stopped reading about midway through and I probably would have kept going otherwise.

      I’m wondering how others feel about this one! Fee free to jump in!

      • Trish January 28, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

        Thanks April! I think I have used them sporadically in blog copy. Never in product descriptions. Still pondering why someone would do that! Ha!
        Trish recently posted..A Few of My Favorite Things

  9. Louise January 25, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Hi April
    I don’t get emails any more from you. I know I didn’t unsubscribe.
    What might have happened?
    I miss your smiling face and wonderful advice.
    Louise

    • April January 25, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

      Hey Louise,

      Check your spam folder and see if any are in there. If so, mark them as safe–not spam. If not email me {blacksburgbelle@gmail.com} with the email address you want the emails to go to and I’ll check to make sure everything is working on my end!

      xoxo
      April

  10. Coral January 28, 2014 at 5:20 am #

    Language is a tricky one. Finding your authentic voice, trying not to be boring (we probably aren’t boring but it can feel like we are). I struggled for a long time because of my ‘ocker Aussie’ way of talking. But I found people liked it and the more I wrote how I spoke, the more authentic and natural it felt.

    Can I please add amazeballs to the list with awesome sauce. For all that is good and holy, enough with the amazeballs already!!
    Coral recently posted..It took me 2 years to figure this out… I started at the wrong end

    • April January 29, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

      It is super tricky. I think it can be one of the hardest parts about blogging and copywriting. I know that I’ve struggled with it!

      Agreed. I thought it was cute when Michelle Ward was the only one saying it, but now it seems like it’s everywhere.

  11. MegansBeadedDesigns January 29, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    I try to be as forgiving as I can when it comes to #3. Sometimes people can create marketing or design that looks or sounds an awful lot like someone else’s – and they don’t even know that other person existed. Or maybe they have seen that other person’s work, and picked up some elements of that other brand subconsciously or without realizing it.

    Just as an example, “A business and life you crave” is only one word away from Marie Forleo’s famous tagline “A business and life you love,” but I’m not going to assume you copied her. It probably just felt like the right tagline for your biz, or you ended up subconsciously picking it up during her B-School. I noticed A LOT of fellow b-schoolers using similar taglines, most of them probably not even realizing it :)

    • April January 29, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

      Oh yeah…I know what you mean. I’m talking about blatant copying–not something super generic that anyone might end up saying or using. That’s why I said you should pull inspiration from what you love–to pick and choose.

      By the way, my tagline is, “Turning your creative dreams into reality.” You can see it in my header. :)

    • April January 29, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

      And, to add to what you said, I think most of what we do comes from inspiration we’ve absorbed. We have to take the inspiration we consume and twist it into something that is ours–so that it matches our own personality and style.

  12. Lauren February 7, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    Wow! These are great tips! Thanks for sharing!

    xx
    Lauren Elizabeth
    Petite in Pearls
    Lauren recently posted..Calming Neutrals

  13. victoria February 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    This article really offers such solid wise advice… so glad I signed up for your newsletter… a true gift to myself and my creative business.

    Thank you
    Victoria