Here is a list of reasons I see most commonly with clients that are not getting more sales/growth out of their business.
1. You are not split testing.
2. You chose the wrong niche.
3. Your margins are too slim.
4. You don’t know your market well enough.
5. You don’t offer an advantage.
6. You don’t reinvest into your business.
7. You don’t network/listen.
8. You invest in the wrong people/tech.
9. You don’t have a plan.
10. You are not split testing.
I know I listed one of those twice, and that is for a reason. Most people are not split testing ANYTHING they do with their business when it comes to marketing or their business in general, and that is, by far, the biggest problem I see today.
“You are not split testing.”
Most people build a website and set up some Facebook/Google ads and spend a couple hundred dollars and get ZERO sales and then say to themselves that Facebook traffic must not be worth their time. Those same people never tested multiple images in their ads, multiple headlines, bid ranges, or even calls to action.
Too many people are not testing out all the variables and giving up way too early. It takes a smart person to even know what the variables are to begin with, how to change them, what to test, and then what to measure. The world is full of people willing to “do it once and do it one way” instead of testing out and finding out what the real problem is.
When you were learning to parallel park at 16, did you get it right the very first time you did it? Why should you think your website or ads are set up correctly then the first time around?
“You chose the wrong niche.”
Do you really think there are a ton of people online ready to buy your WalkMan that is specially designed for parrots? We can bring you traffic to your site, but that doesn’t mean you have a product or idea that can b grown.
“Your margins are too slim.”
Your margins could be slim for a lot of reasons. However, when you allow this to happen, you cut yourself at the knees and you also cripple your marketing department. Want to try paid marketing? You need to split test paid marketing a lot to make it bring in big bucks for you. If you’re running on slim margins you almost cut out any type of paid marketing that could be done correctly to help increase your customer base.
Want an affiliate network promoting for you? Affiliates like good margins paid to them. They only see the end user price, not the price you paid and are making on margin. They will not like the slim CPA (plus network fees and the fraud that comes with it) that you pay out from your already thin margin. Lots of them will abandon ship after a few weeks and promote some other offer that is making them a hefty EPC or CPA.
Contest, promotions, and special deals are all out the window (or really limited) as well. If you have slim margins, you really need to optimize the traffic you have and you need to get creative… fast.
“You don’t know your market well enough.”
I can’t count how many times I have seen this. I have had business owners tell me their customers don’t do this or won’t like that. Specifically, I have had owners tell me promotions will not work with their clients. How simple is it to send out an email to your customer base and just ask them what they want?
I recently did this for a company that swore up and down to me for years that promotions will not work and are too gimmicky for their customers. I finally convinced them to let me send out an email to their customer base that was a survey of 15 questions about how their customers buy supplies for their businesses, and offered the customer a choice of a gift card, free lunch, or discount on their next order, and NOTHING at all for filling in the survey. We had an overwhelming response to the gift card and gained a ton of useful data on their customers they had never known. We also had a ton of people filling it out for free as well. Just ask your customers what they want if you want to make more money.
“You don’t offer an advantage.”
Why should a customer buy from you? Do you offer the same thing as the other nine websites on the front page of Google? Better yet, why should Google or Bing rank you higher than X competitor and give you more customers? With the growing influence of bookmarking and social circles, there is an immediate need for your business to stand out and not be in the same herd as the other websites in your niche. When you are a mover and a shaker, people talk, people share, and people want to buy from you. If you offer the exact same service/experience/and similar cost as your competitors, you’re just doomed from the get-go. I have one client that offers nothing exceptional from their competitors and they wonder why they are not growing at the rate they had expected. When you are like everyone else, the first responder to my needs gets the win.
“You don’t reinvest into your business.”
Even I have fallen for this one. Not reinvesting into your business causes it to fall in on itself sooner or later. You must reinvest in your people, in yourself, in your tech, and in your revenue streams. That service or product you offer today will not be as hot six months from now, and the traffic source you get your customers from will not be as plentiful either. Put some money back every month and reinvest into your business. Make sure you get retrained, go to tradeshows, expand out your business, hire new workers, and dominate new niches. If anything, just invest the money wisely if you cannot think of a way to reinvest into your business. Money making money never hurt anyone.
“You don’t network/listen.”
I don’t care who you are. You are not smarter than me. I am not smarter than you. If you think you know it all and don’t take the advice of others, you are going to fail at business very soon. There is a reason people like the President, Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, and even Tiger Woods surround themselves with people smarter than themselves on a range of different issues. It is not your job to know everything; it’s your job to get people who do know it around you, helping you. Find a mentor or a group of people that are doing what you wish to do. Ask them questions; hang out with them; plan meetings with them, and get their advice.
“You invest in the wrong people/tech.”
I have seen too many companies never get to where they should be because they don’t value their largest two assets: their employees and their technology. Taking your employees out to lunch, throwing them parties, and maybe giving them a ham at Christmas is nice, but for your employees, that doesn’t pay their bills. So when it comes time that they have a financial hardship, one of the first things they do is start job hunting for better pay and benefits. I can already hear some of you saying, “It’s not my fault they fell on hard times.” Well, it will be when they quit and take all their knowledge with them and now you have to scramble to find another worker, interview them, train them, get them to up to speed, and then repeat the same cycle over and over again every seven months. “It costs more money to find new customers than to keep them,” and the same holds true for employees.
Top talent is passing you up when you ask for the moon and back and only want to pay minimum wage salaries. I have seen this with at least five clients in the last two years. They want someone with a degree, who can speak four languages, knows how to program in eight languages, can get them to the top of Google in two weeks for ultra-competitive legal terms, and bring in an extra two million dollars in revenue a month… but only want to pay them $32k dollars a year. Did you know people at fast- food restaurants make up to $32k dollars a year? Did you know I can get paid more on unemployment than that? Do you really want to disrespect someone enough that can make a HUGE impact to your bottom line and yearly bonus with the same wage as someone doing nothing on their ass all day on unemployment?
Also, I see a ton of companies pay for an outsourced firm or cheap part-time worker to build their technology for them. Even worse, they hire an intern or someone right out of college desperate for a job but with no real world experience. They get heavily invested in getting their ecommerce store set up in ColdFusion, only to find out later they cannot change or grow their website when needed. They then have to spend triple the original amount to have someone sit down and go through the original mess and recode the site for them to meet today’s standards.
You would have saved a ton of time, headache, and money if you would have hired the right person out of the gate and paid them their expected salary and then also paid to have the correct tech in place as well. I know one such small business that has wasted seven years and millions of dollars because they cannot keep employees and keep letting the wrong people handle their tech. The only thing worse than this is to hire three people to work on 1 task and think that they will get it done faster then one person working on the same job. So Much Fail, and yes, I have seen this with my own eyes.
“You don’t have a plan.”
I see this more with young or starting affiliates/business owners. They make a couple bucks, everything is put together on a string, and they hope for more profits as they burn through accounts at ad platforms and affiliate networks. You need to write out a plan and stick to it. Plans can change; goals can change, but you will never achieve anything without a plan or goal in mind. Until then, you’re just getting lucky and living for today. Having no future is one scary way to go through life. Having a proper plan sets a course for you and your business and helps ensure what decisions you make when you face hard times.
Put the effort into your business that it needs and treat it as such.