The $64,000 question is: Do your customers want to buy what you're selling?
If you've done your homework (i.e., market research), and you know without a doubt that your product or service is something people need and/or want, yet you still fail to generate sales, then there's something missing in your marketing messages.
In short, you're not "speaking" your customer's language (either online or in person).
There's science to prove it. Studies show that advertising is most effective when it's easy to understand.
I know, right? Sounds easy enough. But if you're selling something more complex than soap or beer, you may be having a little trouble getting your message across.
Here are five things to look for as you write your own copy:
If you're the kind of host who cares about your Aunt Sally, you don't knowingly serve her shellfish when she's allergic.
By the same token, any marketing message you try to deliver should also be created around your knowledge of your prospect.
I'm normally not drawn to reality TV shows. I'll admit a wee addiction in the past -- especially the early years of American Idol and The Apprentice. But I nipped those habits in the bud after a few seasons. It was easy. I just cancelled my cable.
But at the beginning of this year, I moved in with my boyfriend and rediscovered my love of reality TV through The Next Food Network Star. The main idea of the show is to find the next FN "star" (while also promoting FN and its current cast). But here's what you can learn from watching...
Remember the Day You Said Yes to Your Dream? You hung out your shingle, launched a website and did plenty of other business-starting-activities. Bet you never said, "I can't wait to create average, boring, standard work." Me either. The following ideas guide me as an...
Have you ever tried to do something big? No, I mean, massively huge -- something even a little audacious?
If you haven't, you're missing out on one of the best adventure of your life.
But if you have, then you know you can't really pull off something enormous without the help of other people. Which is why my Entrepreneur's Manifesto calls you to "Collaborate in the Kitchen.
Here's a story about one woman who is doing just that...
When I was still a youngster (in the days before the Internet was considered a valid way to get your message out), I spent my nights and weekends at the UC Davis Extension learning the "official" rules of "Product-Price-Place-Promotion."
One of my first professors (I think his name was Mr. Aguilar) had a strange attachment to the term "pasta marketing." He must've used this term at least twice in every class. His point was that lots of people do their marketing like they cook their pasta: they throw it against the wall to see if it's done. If it sticks, they think it's good. And if doesn't, well...you go back to the drawing board.
Troll the interwebs and you'll find plenty of advice on how to avoid killing your business relationships with email and other technologies.
We've all gotten so used to texting, tweeting and tagging each other, that we've forgotten how important it is to actually use our phones.
And I'm just as guilty as the rest of you.
So how do you bridge the gap? How do you turn an online lead (like a Facebook Fan) into a paying customer?
When you're a solopreneur or the owner of a very small business, it can seem almost impossible to find the time to get it all done. There is, after all, actual work that needs to be finished, or you won't be getting paid. I get it. I'm in the same boat.
The important thing to remember though, is that every little bit helps. Baby steps are crucial. They move you forward and build good habits. Habits that can ultimately bring you all the customers you can handle.
Here in the West, purple carrots aren't a commonly found in your local produce departments. In fact, you'll probably have to go out of your way, by searching for them at the fringes: places like your farmer's market or a specialty grocer.
There's a little vegetable stand near my house where I can find maybe 3 or 4 at any given time (mostly because there's a woman who comes in every morning and buys nearly all of them for herself). The shop owner literally can't keep enough of these guys on hand.
In short, these guys are special. Remarkable even. And they're almost certainly a topic of conversation when served to dinner guests. They're so special, they make the chef look special, too.
When I meet with a potential client, one of the questions I usually ask is, "What does your sales funnel look like?" The blank stares and nervous coughing I get in response would almost be funny. Except when I try to ask it another way, and I can still hear crickets. "Okay, then tell me about your sales process -- how do you get and nurture your leads?"
Your "Secret Sauce" is your personality. It's the flavor that you bring to everything you do. And it comes across in many ways -- your voice, your style and your sense of humor. When you interact with real-live human beings, your secret sauce is pretty evident. Most of the time, people can "get" who you are after just a few brief conversations.
Except for my client Rebecca Joseph (aka The Rabbi Chef), your goal is probably not to be the Next Food Network Star.
But there's a whole lot that celebrity chefs can teach us about working in a crowded marketplace. The successful ones truly excel at building their brands and growing their fan base. How do they do it? Here are five of their marketing strategies that you can (and should) adopt today:
There's a guy in San Diego named Charlie who likes to fry things. Weird things that most people would never think of. Stuff like Klondike bars, Girl Scout cookies, and Pop Tarts.
Eating healthy can sometimes be a tricky thing. Especially if you've got a sweet tooth. Or a penchant for all-things-fried.
When we don't make good choices, we end up feeling pretty miserable. And not just because we can't see our feet any longer. It really sucks when your bottom line won't fit into your favorite jeans!
The same is true for your marketing. Your website (and the other channels you use to promote yourself) need to have just the right balance of ingredients in order to keep a healthy number of customers and prospects at your table.