Think you’ve got a great product or service but no one is buying it? Learn the five most common marketing and sales mistakes businesses and freelancers make, and how you can avoid them.
All too many times we hear people say the same thing: ‘My product (or service) is great… I can’t understand why nobody is buying it!’ But when we talk further to them, or check out their website or shop, we can sometimes see exactly why they’re struggling to get the sales they want.
You see, simply creating something amazing isn’t enough. You need to know how to sell it if you want to make a success of your business or freelance career. And to do that, you need to avoid five key mistakes.
Five reasons why people don’t buy from you
So what are these five key mistakes? And how can you learn to rectify or avoid them? Here are some suggestions.
1) You haven’t earned their trust
In order for someone to part with their hard earned cash for your products or services, they need to believe they’re worth it. And to do that, they need to trust you, or at least your business.
Building a strong, trustworthy and familiar brand makes it easier to market your products. Take, for example, a company like Cadbury’s. If they introduced a new chocolate bar tomorrow and you liked the sons of it, you’d probably try one out of curiosity – especially if you were a fan of their other chocolate bars.
But if a new chocolate bar made by a company you’d never heard of before suddenly appeared on the shelves of your local store you’d be less likely to give it a go.
Now apply this simple analogy for a cheap chocolate bar to bigger purchasing decisions. If you sell online products through your own shop, what guarantee does anyone have that they’re as you describe? Or if you sell coaching services, how can a potential customer know you’re any good?
Luckily, today you have plenty of opportunities to build trust online:
- Write a blog – demonstrate your integrity, knowledge and passion for your products or services by sharing insights, information, advice and experience in a blog on your own website. You could also look at guest blogging opportunities to help spread word about what you do. (Read tips on how to write an interesting blog here.)
- Use social media – research what social media sites your customers use and start establishing a presence on them. If you have written useful blogs, make sure you share them on there, as well as links to other content you think your customers will find helpful. So over time you’re seen as a trusted source of information in your specialist area, helping to establish you as a trusted expert in the process.
- Use success stories – if you’ve helped someone solve their problem or get the results they wanted, tell everyone! Write case studies and use them in blogs or create a page for them on your website. You can even make videos to share on social media. Success stories are a great way for people to learn how you can help, and see the kind of results or benefit they want. It helps them to picture getting those results and trusting that you’re the right person to help them.
- Shout about testimonials – if a happy customer emails you grateful thanks, or enthuses about your products or services on social media, ask if you can use it as a testimonial. Or even ask satisfied customers if they’d mind writing one for you. Then share them on your website and across social media.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews – reviews are another great proof point for your products or services. If you can, create a facility on your own website for customers to rank or review their purchases, or link to third party sites with favourable reviews about you.
- Write FAQs – FAQs are a great, mostly-unused opportunity to show off all the amazing things about your business or freelance services in an un-salesy way. Think about obvious questions that customers may have, as well as questions that can help frame you in a positive light. For example, ‘Why should I choose you over someone else?’ Don’t be afraid of confronting potential doubts – if you know people question something then reassure them. For example, ‘You’re more expensive than other physiotherapists. Why should I pay more to see you?’. This is a great opportunity to explain why you’re better and establish trust.
2) You’re not targeting the right audience
You may have the best marketing campaign in the world, but if you’re not talking to the right people, it won’t work. One of the first tasks you need to do when planning a marketing or PR strategy is to identify your target audience – who are the people who will buy from you?
Don’t be afraid of narrowing your target audience down to a clear niche of potential customers. It’s much better to be really, really clear about a very specific segment of customers, and create marketing communications that address their specific problems or needs.
Sadly most businesses do the opposite – they worry that by narrowing their audience they reduce their potential market. But in fact all they are doing is watering down their marketing (by trying to appeal to too many people at once) and competing with more businesses in a broad market.
So if your sales are lacklustre, take another look at who you’re trying to appeal to. Have you ever really considered who is your perfect customer? And how much do you really know about them?
One of the practices most marketing and advertising agencies usually do before developing a marketing strategy is to develop a clear picture of their ideal customer (or customers if you have more than one group of them). They even go as far as giving them names, and imagining the job they do, type of clothes they wear, food they eat and every day worries.
The more specific and clear you are about who would buy from you, the more likely you are to create marketing communications they’ll take notice of and act on.
3) Your sales message isn’t clear
Once you’ve pinpointed your target audience, next you need to know what to say to them. And to do this you need to understand what benefit your product or service is offering them.
You see, most business solve a need – we need food so we go to the supermarket, we need help with our logo so we call a freelance designer, etc. And your sales and marketing communications need to let people know you understand their need and offer the result or benefit they want.
To help you consider this, here are questions that appear on pretty much every professional marketing brief in one form or another – and for very good reason:
- Who is your target audience?
- What problem or need do you solve?
- How do you solve it?
- Who else solves it?
- Why should people come to you?
Consider these questions in relation to your business or freelance work. You already know by now who your ideal customers are, now think about what their needs are, and how you solve them in a better way than anyone else.
This is your marketing message, your USP. It’s the one reason why people will buy from you and you need to make it clear in every sales opportunity, by leading with your key benefit.
4) Your pricing is wrong
It doesn’t matter how well you do everything we’ve covered so far; if you haven’t got your pricing policy right you won’t make the sales you deserve.
If you offer low value products or services, then customers are not going to expect to pay much for them. They’re looking for a bargain and will happily make finance-driven purchasing decisions. In other words, they’ll go for the cheapest deal.
So if you price yourself considerably above your competitors who may be offering similar products or services, you’ll likely lose out.
But equally, if your products or services are more premium or better quality, you can’t afford to offer them too cheaply. Price yourself too low, and customers will assume your offering is of a lower quality.
You’ll also earn less, sale on sale, than your competitors. And while this may not bother you in the short term, in the long term it will give your competitors a bigger pot of funds to reinvest in their business and marketing, and enable them to grow at a greater rate than you. So in five years time, a business that was neck and neck with you now could easily own the lion’s share of your market.
It’s important, therefore to consider your pricing strategy carefully. Research your market and your competitors and assess where your products and services sit on the scale of quality – and how much others are charging. And make your decisions carefully!
5) You don’t make it easy for them to buy
Once you’ve attracted potential customers to your website, signed them up to your mailing list or encouraged them through your business door, how do you close the sale?
Do you make taking that final step and committing to a buy easy? Or do you lose customers at the final hurdle? If you have an online store or response mechanism, have you ensured it’s user friendly? Is it easy to understand? Have you minimised the number of clicks they need to make to commit?
Are your calls to action clear, and spread around your page? Do you encourage people to commit with special offers or time-limited promotions? Is your pricing clear?
If you have a physical shop, is it welcoming? Can customers easily find what they want? Is it obvious where and how they pay?
Try to look at your website or physical business from a customer’s point of view, and make sure it’s as easy and comfortable as possible for them to buy.
Even better, ask someone whose opinion you trust to visit your site or business as a potential customer and ask them how they find the experience. Was there anything that confused them? Or seemed like hard work?
It’s worth taking the time and effort to get this last piece of the sales jigsaw right – you don’t want the lack of one little call to action, for example, to undo all your otherwise-brilliant marketing efforts.
Start attracting and selling to customers
There are many things that can make or break a business, but these five mistakes are some of the most common reasons we find that businesses lose sales.
By applying some of the tips in this article however, you can address them and start to see your business or freelance career grow.Hannah Martin