Are You Making These Mistakes in Your Business (or Job)?

Sandwich board sign

It was a wonderfully hot and muggy summer’s day in the quaint Beaches neighborhood of Toronto. The crowds filled the streets, with families going to or returning from the sandy shores, and there were lines outside each and every one of the trendy new frozen yogurt shops.

Bally the Dog and I hurried through the masses, although once in a while he would stop and work his charm to get a doggy treat from a random young woman on the street. But we had precious few moments to waste, as it was time once again for him to cool off with a late afternoon swim in Lake Ontario.

We zigged and zagged to avoid the sandwich boards in front of the clothing stores and furniture boutiques. As we passed them by, I’d take a quick moment to see what the advertising messages the shop owners had scrawled on them in order to entice prospects into their stores.

What I found was disappointing. Some contained cutesy quotes. Others said, “Come on in”. But none gave a real reason or made an incredible offer to entice busy passers-by to slow down and enter the shops. Thus it was no surprise that the shops were often empty.

No doubt these merchants will be quick to blame Wal-Mart and other external circumstances for slumping sales.

I don’t disagree that big box stores are taking market share from small businesses. But there are many reasons for this, and one of them is the self-inflicted wounds that small business owners do to themselves with lazy and uneducated marketing efforts.

Wal-Mart doesn’t waste signage inviting you to simply “come in”. They don’t follow the terrible lead of neighboring stores that waste advertising space by putting up “quotes of the day”. Instead, Wal-Mart, a business that is run by numbers, actually puts some thought and effort into their marketing.

They realize that even they, the mighty home of everyday low prices, can’t just “build it and let them come”. With apologies to the voice in the cornfield that spoke to Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, that just doesn’t work.

The economy might be slowly recovering, but people aren’t spending like it is 2006 anymore. That is why it is more important than ever to be diligent and efficient with every opportunity you have to communicate with your prospects.

You don’t have a word to waste. This applies to online and offline businesses, to shopping prospects and potential coaching clients. On your website, you must clearly and concisely communicate to visitors what’s in it for them to stay on your website. Otherwise, you’ll experience what is known as a high “bounce rate”, indicating that most visitors click away from your site in under three seconds.

In the real world, it’s nearly as bad. The BBC news reports, “The addictive nature of web browsing can leave you with an attention span of nine seconds – the same as a goldfish.”

That means you have to quickly, clearly, and concisely communicate exactly why your prospect should stop and give your shop a second thought.

Come on small business owners, salespeople, and marketers, we can do better.

Let’s put an end to the self-inflicted sales misery we heap upon ourselves.

Good marketing is not rocket science. Quite the contrary. It is almost factory work by design.

If watching MadMen has taught you nothing else, you should know by now that the right words to the right person can get them to do almost anything you want.

So listen, if you’re struggling, here’s the good news. Experts like Mark Ford (writing as Michael Masterson) have published everything they know about building a business. Start by reading one of his best selling books, Ready, Fire, Aim. As my friend B.W., the owner of an 8-figure information marketing book said to me at lunch last month, “That was the most important business book I’ve ever read. It changed my life.”

But wait, there’s more. If you go to this link, I’ll give you three more books that you need to read on your summer holidays. One will help those that are just getting started in the scary world of starting their own business, while two others will give you systematized and practically step-by-step instructions for creating marketing that works.

I also encourage you to leave me your favorite sales and small business book recommendations.

3 book ideas:

Dan Kennedy’s, No-BS Guide to Direct Marketing
Chet Holmes’, Ultimate Sales Machine
Michael Masterson’s, The Reluctant Entrepreneur

Please leave your marketing and sales book suggestions in the comments area below.

Now take Zig Ziglar’s advice and go out there and sell something. America, or wherever you live, needs the business.

[Ed Note: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise (Join him on Facebook here) and author of Financial Independence Monthly and Turbulence Training. He is also the co-creator of the Early to Rise $100,000 Transformation Contest. Though this round of the Transformation Contest has closed it’s not too late to get access to all the helpful tools and advice that has helped many people make a positive change in their lives. Get started on your major life transformations today.]