When growing a business, we all know marketing is a huge component but getting it right can be challenging. So we outsource teams or hire a coach who tells us how it should be done. And whilst they may be right to a degree, in a desperate rush to get leads sometimes we throw away common sense and forget a few other essential components that could actually be the missing link.

Here are five very common and mostly ‘innocent’ mistakes many of us don’t realise we are doing:

1. Adding the email address to your database without permission.

Ever sent an email or spoken to someone at a networking event only to discover the next day when you open your emails, that you’re in an opt-in series you never consented too? This is the equivalent to e-junk mail and is one of the quickest ways we can destroy a potential and profitable relationship.

Alternative Approach: If the intention is to add people to a list, ask them “Hey would you be interested in receiving my tips on X”, and only if you think it will add value to them. Otherwise, make sure your potential subscribers have first confirmed their subscription before opting them in. This is actually better for you as you want people who are genuinely interested to be on your list. It’s better to have 100 highly engaged subscribers than 1000 annoyed ones.

2.  Spray and Pray.

Spray and Pray is when someone literally spams everything and anything, praying desperately for an outcome or something to stick. This can come in many different forms both online and offline. For example, that person who tags you and their other 500 friends in their posts on their personal profile page along with a thousand hashtags at least once a week praying by a miracle it will go viral. 

Alternative Approach: Look at how you can offer upfront value to the people you ask to do a favour for you. Do they have a business? Can you sometimes engage with their posts or even share their stuff from time to time. When you do this often enough it will come back to you tenfold and you won’t even have to ask, people will happily share and like your stuff automatically as there is now that mutual support and value you are providing.

3. Not listening.

So often we are quick to reply but we fail to really listen. Have you heard the quote “the biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.” We’re told to build marketing and sales funnels and practice scripted telephone chats and while that is great for automation and bringing in more volume, sometimes this kind of system can become diluted and your potential clients end up feeling like just another number. While we are busy building a shiny looking brand, we forget that the way we make people feel is also part of our brand. And what people crave more than ever is connection and to be heard. This is true communication and vital to any marketing plan. Whatever problem or solution you are solving, your clients or customers want to feel like they matter, that is what will keep them coming back.

Alternative Approach: Before asking for a sale or even responding to anyone within your audience, listen to what they say and how they say it. Not just their words but tone and body language. And respond accordingly. Even if they are not ready or don’t want to work with you right now, this doesn’t mean you should give up. Take a step back, give them some space. Perhaps what they need is more opportunity to get to know you and learn more about your business. This is where relationship building is key. And there is no better way to do this than through your various social media channels.

4. Promote and Push.

When you’re strategy is to push your products or services and promote only, you’ll burn yourself and other out pretty quickly. This tactic is very 80’s. This happens in the form of ‘email marketing’ and online groups (specifically Facebook groups). It simply doesn’t work anymore. When we solely focus on selling and promoting, we miss out on vital steps along the way like connection, nurturing and relationship building which in today’s market is so important and essential to any marketing strategy.

Alternative Approach: Don’t think of it as only building relationships in order to make a sale with that person. When someone trusts and feels good about you, they will tell their friends and that’s how you create a domino effect with referrals. Instead of jumping straight to the ‘quick’ sale for short-term gain, think of your long-term strategy, ensuring it ties in with your business’s philosophy and that your brand values are reflected clearly in your communications strategy. Remember, there are a few steps involved in the sales process and with the ever-evolving digital landscape, we need to be able to adapt to make it relevant to the market in which we are serving. This means, tactics that may have worked a few years ago, may not work today.

5. You only ever ask.

Sales aside, let’s talk about only ever asking to your network, your community or your peers. Do you only ever ask others for favours without offering any value? Sometimes It’s not always about the client. You have to be aware of the way you handle your business with the community around you. Word travels, your reputation is not just defined by how your customers perceive you, and clients and peers are not always mutually exclusive.

Alternative Approach: As mentioned earlier, it is really important to offer up value and keep doing it before even asking anything. This approach will serve you well in the long term as it also gains you a lot more credibility and authority (and faster) than the quick ‘spray’ approach. It could be as simple as acknowledging other people’s work from time to time, a mention, a like or a comment. Whatever it is, you need to ensure you are engaging and not just pushing. 

We must look at marketing holistically. It is not limited to the way we present ourselves online or through our website or the way we dress at networking events. It is the values we hold throughout our business at all levels, not just the ones we communicate to our customers. People are savvy enough these days to see through all the bravado.

It doesn’t matter how shiny or sparkly we look, we need to be aware of the way we communicate and offer value to everyone around us. It’s how we make others around us feel. This is what people will remember us by and if it’s positive they will talk about you to others and that is the best form of marketing.

When you are communicating well, you are connecting with your community and if you have your own business whether intentionally or not, you are marketing yourself every day through all your communication channels both online and offline. And when it’s done right, connection builds trust, credibility, and relationships, which leads to effortless sales without feeling pushy or looking desperate.