by Jenna Kutcher
Digital marketing isn’t something you need a four-year degree in or 10 years of experience to master. In fact, you’re probably marketing yourself on a daily basis without even knowing it. Anytime you share about your passions and your business, whenever you show up and engage with your audience, or create content that expands your reach and delivers value to your people… That is ALL a part of online marketing. But there are also some common mistakes that I think are SO easy to make. And I see them all of the time.
As we get into the 5 most common marketing mistakes, and how to fix them, I want you to keep in the back of your mind that you are not slimy just because you’re selling something. That if you really and truly believe in your product, your service, or your offer, you can communicate in a way that you’d be doing your audience a disservice if you DIDN’T share it with them.
It’s not about tricking anyone into buying — it’s about providing so much value that people can’t help but want more of what you’re dishing up. Approach digital marketing with that belief and you’ll already be 10 steps ahead of where you were.
Assuming your audience knows your offer
I see this all the time with entrepreneurs. They put their job title and website URL in their bios and then never mention anything to do with their business again anywhere else on Instagram, except maybe every 10th post or so apologetically buried at the bottom of a caption.
If you’re talking about everything BUT the work you’re doing or the work you want to do, then there’s no way your audience will know that you are the go-to person the next time they need a copywriter, an interior designer, a closet organizer, a bridesmaid gift, or whatever it is that you do! You might be whispering about what you’re selling, and you think everyone just knows what you do because you’ve mentioned it here and there.
So let me ask you this: do you believe in the product or service you offer? Do you believe that it can help others in a really tangible way, whether it makes life a little easier or happier or better in some way?
Then you NEED to be shouting it from the rooftops! Or at least from your social media, right? The more that you share your work and weave it into your story, the more people can actually visualize themselves becoming a client of yours. Remember that old marketing stat that someone needs to be exposed to your message or product 7 times before they ever even take action — yeah, it went something like that — well, if I do the math and you’re whispering about what you sell every ten posts and only 3.5% of your audience is even seeing it or engaging with it, it might take 5 years for someone to even be inspired to take action with you.
I want none of that for you, so stop assuming that people know what you do and sell and start sharing it more boldly and with passion. Passion is admirable and contagious, so don’t shy away when it comes time to talk about what you’re doing!
Too much money talk
The next mistake I see is people selling themselves only with their prices, leading with the money talk and then getting mad when they get price shopped. If you lead with the numbers and talk largely about your rates as your most unique selling point, then people will look at you more as dollar signs than an actual human being who has something unique to offer.
This is the age-old, glorious pricing dilemma that haunts each of us at one point or another and it’s exactly why showing up and leading with an experience first instead of cost is so vital. The experience is the most important piece and is likely the only truly unique thing about what you’re doing, and the price is just a small part of the whole equation. Cost should never be posed as the deciding factor if you’re hoping to stay in business long term and have clients that choose you for you.
How you choose to display your pricing is up to you, but you definitely want to look at it from the standpoint of the potential buyer. You don’t just want to slap your service next to a dollar amount and let them imagine what they will get when they hand over their money, you want to clearly paint the picture and set the standard for what they can expect for the price.
Weave the entire picture together of what the client will receive when they buy: they’ll get THIS sort of experience, THIS exact deliverable, this timeline, this level of service and this follow up after delivery. It’s way more appealing to know you’ll be taken care of from start to finish rather than just seeing a vague word or a quirky package title to sum up an offer.
Don’t just put: Pinterest management for $1,000 a month. That doesn’t tell the client ANYTHING important, except how much money they’ll be out each month for hopefully solid Pinterest engagement. And that makes it way easier for them to move on to someone who might even charge more but who has built out their pricing to include the value, the promises and the details they’ll deliver on.
You’re trying to be everything for everyone
This might be THE most common marketing mistake I see, and it is so easy to fall into the trap, especially when you’re just getting started. When you’re building your business, in the first couple years especially, it can be so tempting to attempt to speak to the masses, to offer your products and services as a fix for everyone, everywhere.
It’s partially because you DO believe in what you’re selling, but it’s also because there’s this fear of niching down and getting really specific with who your ideal audience is. We talk a lot about attracting and repelling but ask if anyone really loves the idea of repelling someone and the truth is, we don’t love it… But it’s necessary as you continue to grow and refine. If you’ve been in business awhile, you probably have realized the importance of specializing and getting really explicit about who our perfect audience is so that we can do what we love with who we love.
When you try to generalize yourself and provide something for everyone, the masses will see you as being unclear with your vision, they won’t really know if your offer is for them because your marketing to the masses. And more than that, there’s just NO way to serve everyone well because we all have such vastly different tastes, opinions, needs and goals.
Instead, focus on the true number of clients you need, the actual number needed to hit the income goals you set and find comfort that you don’t have to serve everyone, you don’t have to be all things to all people. When you can see that you likely only need a small number of people who see your offer, hear it, and know it’s for them, it allows you to get laser focused on speaking directly to them and only them.
When you strip it down to speaking to this intimate group with a conversational and friendly tone in the terms they use in a voice that will resonate, you’ll reach more people than ever. Better yet, they’ll be the RIGHT people who will become endeared to your brand, trust your voice, and ultimately buy when you sell because they know and understand you AND feel understood by you better than the masses ever could.
Too much time in the details
Maybe you’ve had a day similar to this before: you spend a couple hours answering emails first thing in the morning, and then the rest of the a.m. is spent perfecting your logo or shopping for the perfect dining room chair (I’m speaking from experience here), and the majority of the afternoon you’re meeting with your web designer and getting cute business cards made. Around 6 p.m. you haven’t actually done anything to move the money making needle necessary to pay your bills.
This happens so easily in the beginning of entrepreneurship, but even seasoned business owners can find themselves in the false productivity trap of staying busy but not actually moving anything meaningful forward. And don’t get me wrong, branding and aesthetics and email answering are ALL very important to creating a booming business. People want to buy from brands that look beautiful and communicate well, but that should never take up an entire day or take away from having time to strategize in creating ways to market and serve your clients.
I ask myself two questions when I start doing unproductive things just to feel busy. The first is: what on my to-do list can I hand off to someone else right now? It could be as simple as getting grocery delivery so you don’t need to run to the store at the end of a busy day, or getting the house professionally cleaned to take it off your task list. However you can create more space for yourself to focus on serving your clients well, that’s a win because when you start to move the needle and bring in more profits, that’s more funds available to continue to simplify that list of yours that isn’t really moving you forward.
And after you’ve handed off some of the tasks or asked for help, the second question is: what is the most important thing on my list that needs my attention above all the rest? There’s usually ONE thing that needs fixing or tuning or completing before you can feel really good about moving on to the rest of your list. For me? It usually happens to be the most difficult thing on the list or the thing I’ve working up to be a big deal in my head.
So if you’re spending a ton of your time and energy simply trying to look like a business, and not enough time building and running it, then you’re likely going to run into a few problems.
Investing tons of time and money and energy into the things that make you LOOK legit, like the branding and website and logo, might feel good for a while, but they aren’t helping you work on your craft or, also important, making you any money. Like I said, there’s definitely a time and place for the branding details, but if they’re taking up all of the time and all of the place, then just no.
You never want to get so caught up in the way things appear so much that you aren’t actually on the ground, making the things, showing up for the real work, and building your empire. Focus on one task at a time, get help and support where you need it, and use the tools available to you to streamline the whole “looking like a beautiful business thing”.
You’re playing the blame game
It can be freaking HARD to take accountability. I mean, have you ever seen someone blame everything and everyone else for their problems rather than taking action to better themselves? I can certainly say I have been there, done that, never want to go back because that game of “Why is this happening to me?” can be so frustrating, and so addicting.
Sure, there are a lot of things out of our control. Actually most things are — how people react to us, our clients’ feedback, the timing of life’s bummers that we all face. I watch people get mad at the algorithm, or get pissed at a newbie in the industry undercutting them, or be upset their competition is performing way better, or be annoyed that someone had a similar idea as them… The list goes on and on.
But please hear me: it is not your competition’s fault, the algorithm’s fault, or your friend who’s doing so well’s fault that you are not excelling. I know that is hard to hear, but you literally have no control over what Mark Zuckerberg wants to do next with the algorithm or what your colleague chooses to launch, even if it’s kind of, sort of similar to an idea you had.
All you can do is dig in and learn new tactics, try new things, be willing to experiment, keep showing up for your people well and providing value to them, and put your dang blinders on if you’re feeling yourself go down the comparison rabbit hole, because what everyone else is doing and saying is frankly NONE of your business!
What CAN you change? What do you have control over? It’s a very small window. It’s what you do, believe, and say. Those are the only things within your power, so rather than waiting for Instagram to go back to how it “used to be” — which by the way, it won’t! — start rejigging your plans and being resourceful and pivoting. No successful person got to where they are by complaining about their circumstances and wishing all day that things would be different or easier for them. Nope, they worked with what they had and continued persevering, even when things shifted or got hard. That’s what makes you resilient and powerful, my friend, and that’s the mindset that impacts others in the digital marketing space the most.
The Big Picture
These are the top 5 marketing mistakes I often see and have fallen victim to myself a few times over the years. I hope you feel empowered and encouraged to take control of your business and use your voice to connect with your dream audience strategically and consistently. That’s how you build influence and create a foundation of trust with your people, so that they’ll know you’re the go-to gal or guy in your industry next time they’re looking to buy whatever it is you’re selling. Digital marketing really has less to do with metrics and stats and more to do with intentionality, connection, and innovation. With a little bit of that, I know you’ll go a long way. You got this!