Priceless tips to get your business on the right track

Marketing your business can be both an exciting and scary endeavor, even for those of us that have been doing it for a while. A few wrong moves can hinder your best efforts. Consider the most common mistakes speakers and independent professionals make when trying to grow their careers:

Spending time and money on marketing tools before establishing a business development strategy. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people throw money at “marketing solutions” in an effort to save their businesses, only to realize too late that slick brochures, a static website and company letterhead won’t grow their business. Successful speakers and professionals provide valuable services to people that need them. If you aren’t clear about what you offer—and to whom—and you haven’t discerned the best strategies for reaching those customers, your “marketing efforts” are wasting time and money.

Speaking on multiple topics—targeting a broad audience. Trying to be all things to all people will only render you a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. You will never be regarded as an expert or become “known” for anything. The most successful speakers (and professionals in general) target a specific group of people and commit to helping them solve a specific set of problems.

Approaching key decision-makers for support too soon. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is especially true if you’re in the middle of a significant transition. If you’re attempting to re-invent yourself or launch a new look, feel, or message, complete the development process before you start approaching people for their support. You want to give people the best possible impression of your effort’s viability. Oftentimes, others won’t see the potential like you will of a new idea that hasn’t been developed.

Undervaluing or overvaluing your products, services or programs. Mark LeBlanc, author of the book Growing Your Business and founder of The Achiever’s Circle notes that, “People either charge too much too soon or too little too long.”

It’s important that you establish a healthy synergy between what you offer, what your prospects need, and your fees. Undervaluing costs you money and handicaps your growth potential because it dries up your cash flow. Overvaluing robs you of your credibility and compromises your long-term viability.

Getting an assistant or administrator to do the “dirty work” (i.e., misdiagnosing the cash-flow problem). I get emails and phone calls all the time from people asking me if I know someone who could book them or market their product or service. Typically, this well-meaning speaker is trying to solve the wrong problem (which is more realistically tied to a weak product or service or a poorly-communicated marketing message). Most likely, this professional simply needs a stronger marketing plan.

Good administrators can be important, but they don’t replace a good business development strategy or well-executed marketing plan. Often, when people begin to feel stuck or overwhelmed in their business, they want someone else to figure what isn’t working, start doing what WILL work, or otherwise take away the pain. Typically, however, the pain is something only the business owner can fix: They need a stronger marketing plan.

Spending investment dollars in the wrong places. Be very careful how you invest your money, especially if your funds are limited. Whenever possible, don’t tie your money up in expensive logos, electronics, vehicles, or large quantities of product that may be slow to move or can’t be leveraged into more income. For example, printing 5,000 books because it’s cheaper per book won’t help you build your business if you don’t have any funds left over to execute your marketing plan. Before spending big dollars, always ask yourself, How will this help me get more customers? And what will it take for me to financially see this campaign through?

Losing the game in your mind. We all have emotional baggage that can cause us to sabotage our own success: self-doubt, fear of failure or rejection, feeling unworthy or inferior, and more. You could do everything right but lose the battle for growing your business in your mind.

If you’re truly committed to being successful in your business, you need to deal with those issues that could sabotage your efforts. Get a good business coach, get some counseling, read some recommended books, figure it out. This distinction is just as important as a solid business development or marketing strategy.

Marketing mistakes not only waste our financial resources, they take our focus away from the crucial details that need our time and attention if our businesses are going to thrive. These mistakes can be minimized with the right strategies and smart execution, paving the way to your success as a speaker or independent professional.

Author's Bio: 

Over seven years ago, Misty Williams started and Strategic Marketing Solutions with a vision for helping independent professional grow profitable, sustainable business that give them the opportunity to do the work they love while contributing meaningfully to the world. Her background in artist management and marketing uniquely-positioned her to understand the gritty, everyday business-management issues that creative individuals struggle with and the blind spots that prevent them from making sound strategic decisions.