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5 Marketing Mistakes That 95% Entrepreneurs are Making

5 Marketing Mistakes That 95% Entrepreneurs are Making

Marketing is an important element of your small business strategy. If you’re looking to expand your customer base, increase revenue, or grow brand awareness, a savvy marketing strategy is a must.
Marketing for marketing’s sake, however, won’t always show positive results. These 5 mistakes commonly made by small businesses can actually sabotage your goals, rather than support them. But don’t fret—there are simple solutions for turning these mishaps into wins.

1. Talking About Yourself

Your company just had its three year anniversary and you even won an award! Your customers care, right? Not always. A crucial misunderstanding of small businesses is believing that you and your customers value the same things. What can you do for a customer that no one else can? To successfully market your small business, don’t sell the customer your product (or service); sell them your solution.

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Market research, even basic, is very helpful. Consider crafting a simple survey with SurveyMonkey, or polling a small focus group. (Online crowdsourcing can be an inexpensive replacement for focus groups.) These basic research methods can give you new insight, and help you shape your marketing message to focus less on you and more on the consumer.

2. Forgetting Your Current Customers

You’ve put all your company’s resources into advertising and even jumped on the Groupon bandwagon. Are you spending so much time focusing on attracting new customers, you’re forgetting about your current ones?

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It’s common for small businesses to think they must grow through growing their customer base, but you can target current customers, too. There are many different ways to stay in touch with current customers after the sale. Email is one method that is inexpensive and can yield high success rates, but be sure to follow a detailed guide to small business email marketing. Your email should have certain elements, such as relevant and useful content, to be successful.

3. Social Media Abuse

Social media marketing can be an inexpensive, effective marketing solution and is a must-have for most small businesses. However, starting a Facebook page and sending a few tweets isn’t enough. Social media marketing is a complex marketing tool, and if used the wrong way can actually harm, rather than help, your small business.

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What you need is a social media strategy. First, understand how to use social media effectively, and then, create a social media marketing plan. Use your marketing research to understand where your customers are online and create a brand presence there. Only communicate relevant, helpful information to your followers; never spam or you’ll quickly lose friends.

4. No Call to Action

When a potential customer sees your ad or comes to your website, what do you want them to do? Subscribe to a newsletter? Sign up for a promotion? Without a call to action, your customers won’t know what to do with the information you’ve given them, and if they move on, you’ve lost your opportunity.
Using a call to action button on your website is one simple strategy. These are coded buttons that drive a webpage visitor to “click here” to sign up for a newsletter, or whatever your intention is. If you don’t take the initiative to help your customer find you, they likely won’t find you at all.

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5. Not Measuring What Matters

No matter how small your business, or how much room you have to grow, you should always be measuring success. This is how you evaluate performance and also gives the company marketing goals to works towards. There are simple, inexpensive strategies for small businesses to track marketing return on investment. Leveraging a few different techniques is necessary to understand how your marketing efforts are paying off. You want to be sure you have a good idea of what marketing strategies are more effective than others, and how they all tie into the bigger business goal. Even if you aren’t interested in the numbers, your CEO surely is!

Even as a small business, you can still have a creative, inexpensive marketing strategy. Avoid common marketing mistakes, make smart decisions, and your small business can have a successful marketing strategy, too.

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Last Updated on July 22, 2019

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

A cover letter is an introduction to what will be found in the resume. In a cover letter, the applicant is able to use a conversational tone, to explain why the attached resume is worth reviewing, why the applicant is qualified, and to express that it’s the best application the reader will see for the open position.

Employers do read your cover letter, so consider the cover letter an elevator pitch. The cover letter is the overview of your professional experience. The information in the body presents the key qualifications, the things that matter. The cover letter is the “here is what will be found in my presentation”, which is the resume in this case.

Something really important to point out- a cover letter should be written from scratch each time. Great cover letters are the ones that express why the applicant is the best for the specific job being applied to. Using a general cover letter will not lead to great results.

This doesn’t mean that your cover letter should repeat your most valuable qualifications, it just means that you don’t want to recycle a templated, general letter, not specific to the position being applied to.

Here’re 10 cover letter tips to nail every interview.

1. Take a few minutes to learn about the company so that you use an appropriate tone

Like people, every company has its own culture and tone. Doing a bit of research to learn what that is will be extremely beneficial. For instance, a technology start-up has a different culture and tone than a law firm. Using the same tone for both would be a mistake.

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2. Don’t use generic cover letter terms — be specific to each company and position

Hiring managers and recruiters can easily identify generic cover letters. They read cover letters and resumes almost every day. Using words and terms like: “your company” instead of naming the actual company, and “your website” instead of “in your about us section on www.abc123.com”, are mistakes. Be as specific as possible, it’s worth the additional few minutes.

3. Address the reader directly if you can

It is an outdated practice to use “To Whom it May Concern” if you know the person that will be reviewing your documents. You may wonder how you’ll know this information; this is where attention to detail and/or a bit of research comes into play.

For example, if you are applying for a job using LinkedIn, many times, the job poster is listed within the job post. This is the person reading your documents when you “apply now”. Addressing that person directly will be much more effective than using a generic term.

4. Don’t repeat the information found in the resume

A resume is an action-based document. When presenting information in a resume, the tone isn’t conversational but leading with action instead, for example: “Analyze sales levels and trends, and initiate action as necessary to ensure attainment of sales objectives”.

In a cover letter, you have the opportunity to deliver your elevator pitch: “I have positively impacted business development and growth initiatives, having combined two regions into one and achieving 17% in compound growth over the following three-year period”.

Never use your resume qualifications summary as a paragraph in your resume. This would be repeating information. Keep in mind that your cover letter is the introduction to your resume- the elevator pitch- this is your opportunity to show more personality.

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5. Tell the company what you can do for them

As mentioned above, this is your chance to explain to the company why you are the best person for the open position. This is where you tell the company what you can do for them: “If hired as the next (job title) with (company name), I will cultivate important partnerships that will enhance operations while boosting revenue.”

Many times, we want to take the reader through the journey of our life. It is important to remember that the reader needs to know why you are the best person for the job. Lead with that.

6. Showcase the skills and qualifications specific to the position

A lot of people are Jack’s and Jill’s of all trades. This can be a great big picture, but not great to showcase in a cover letter or resume.

Going back to what was mentioned before, cover letters and resumes are scanned through ATS. Being as specific as possible to the position being applied to is important.

If you are applying for a coding position, it may not be important to mention your job in high school as a dog walker. Sticking to the exact job being applied to is the most effective way to write your cover letter.

7. Numbers are important — show proof

It always helps to show proof when stating facts: “I have a reputation for delivering top-level performance and supporting growth so that businesses can thrive; established industry relationships that generated double digit increase in branch revenues”.

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8. Use testimonials and letters of recommendations

A cover letter is a great place to add testimonials and information from your letter of recommendations. Mirroring the example above, here is a good way to use that information:

I have a history of consistently meeting and exceeding metrics: “(Name) rose through the company and became a Subject Matter Expert, steadily providing exceptional quality of work.”- Team Manager.

9. Find the balance between highlighting your achievements and bragging

There is fine line between telling someone about your achievements and bragging. My advice is to always use facts first, and support that with an achievement related to the fact, as shown in the examples above.

You don’t want to have a cover letter with nothing but bullet points of what you have achieved. I can’t stress this enough — cover letters are your elevator pitch, the introduction to your resume.

10. Check your length — you want to provide no more than an introduction

The general rule for most positions is one page in length. Positions such as professors and doctors will require more in length (and they actually use CV’s); however, for most positions, one page is sufficient. Remember, the cover letter is an introduction and elevator pitch. Follow the logic below to get you started:

Start with: “I am ready to deliver impeccable results as (name of company) next (Position Title).

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What you know and like about the company, what initiatives, missions, goals resonate with you: “I read/listened to an interview that your Chief of Staff did on www.abc123.com. His/her statement regarding important up and coming employee engagement initiatives really resonated with me”.

Overview of your qualifications and experience: “I have a strong background in developing, monitoring, and controlling annual processes and operational plans related to community relations and social initiatives”.

Highlight/ Back up your facts with achievements: “I’m a vision-driven leader, with a proven history of innovation and mentorship; I led an initiative that reduced homelessness in four counties and received recognition from the local Homeless Network and the County Commissioner”.

Close with what will you do for the company: “As your next (job title), I am focused on hitting the ground running as a transformational leader who is driven by challenge, undeterred by obstacles, and committed to the growth of (name of company).

Bonus Advice

When applying for a job online or in person, a resume and a cover letter are standard submissions. At least 98% of the time, both your resume and cover letter and scanned via ATS (applicant tracking systems). You can learn more about that process here.

The information provided in a cover letter should be written and organized to be compatible with these scans, so that it can make to a human; from there, you want to make sure that you capture the recruiter and/or hiring managers attention.

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Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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