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ryan caligiuri

I had a conversation with a frustrated entrepreneur who recently went straight for the hard pitch to make a sale.

He worked very hard to put together events and webinars, and at the end of each presentation, made pitches for high-priced offerings he desperately wanted participants to buy.

He did not generate a single sale.

The reason? He ignored the significant reality that marketing is a process – a series of events that leads someone to get to know, like and trust you enough to begin a relationship.

Instead of doing that, he was just another peddler pushing his product.

In the race to make a quick buck, he committed many offences – fatal mistakes – that will certainly prevent him, and anyone else who does the same, from succeeding with marketing efforts.

This individual was kind enough to allow me to share his story. Here are three fatal mistakes to avoid.

Fatal mistake No. 1: Failing to take it slow

Almost every company has an expensive core offering it would like to sell, whether custom software or full-service home redecorating. And of course, every company wants its customers to buy the most expensive offering it has for sale.

But this is not the way to build business.

You cannot invite customers to, say, a webinar where what they expect is to gain information, and then try to sell them on a $100,000 program. That is far too big a jump to expect them to make.

The key is not to try to sell customers out of the gate, but to slowly introduce them to your company, your people, your products and services.

To avoid this fatal mistake, follow three steps:

• Develop more content that aims to educate those who are still researching your company, products and services.

• Provide lower-priced offerings that allow them to test you out. A less expensive introductory product or service brings less risk and more likelihood of a trial purchase.

• Develop a plan to continue to educate those who are researching, and a second plan to up-sell and cross-sell those who have already bought.

Fatal mistake No. 2: Neglecting your best buyers

Far too many businesses look for new customers to fuel top-line growth. That's the wrong way to go.

Instead, you should focus your energies on your best bets: your current clients. Then turn to likely prospects and the open market, in that order.

It often takes a great deal of time and effort to get a new prospect to the point of being in a position to purchase. Current clients, on the other hand, are a lot easier to market to because they already know, like and trust you.

However, most clients do not know the full gamut of what their providers can do for them. So the challenge is find ways to make sure current clients know the full spectrum of what you have to offer with complementary products and services.

To avoid this fatal mistake:

• Make a list of all those who have already purchased from you, and survey them on the challenges they are facing as they relate to the products and services you provide.

• Determine who is a good fit for your higher-value products or services, and up-sell or cross-sell them by educating through means including e-mail, webinars, live events and sales calls.

Fatal mistake No. 3: Leading with tactics

It is one thing to understand the importance of a strategy; it's another to ensure you are not acting outside of it.

There are many marketing tools at our disposal, and, whether it's a new sponsorship opportunity, an invitation to co-host an event or the release of a new social media tool, we are constantly being distracted by new ways to grow our businesses.

Far too many experienced professionals react to these opportunities without taking the time to evaluate whether or not they align with their strategy.

By failing to have a clear understanding of corporate objectives and really thinking about alignment, businesses waste a great deal of time by giving attention to many tactics that do not deserve a second glance.

To avoid this fatal mistake, ask yourself three questions:

• "What are my corporate objectives, and what is my strategy for achieving them?"

• "Does this tactic complement my current strategy?"

• "Will this tactic help drive my corporate objectives?"

If you cannot answer the first question, you cannot answer the other two. Don't even move on to them until you figure out the answer to the first one.

If you can answer yes to the last two questions, you may have found a tactic that can help your marketing efforts. If you answer no, do away with the tactic and move on to another one. There are plenty to add to your marketing mix.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Ryan Caligiuri is a Winnipeg-based growth strategist who works with companies in hyper-competitive marketplaces that want to increase leads and demand to fill their pipeline, that need help breaking into or taking control of already established markets when there's a need to create more revenue streams, or to become more influential in the marketplace.

Engage with Mr. Caligiuri on Twitter.

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