Mistake #3: Using the Wrong Marketing Strategies

We are so bombarded with tips, tricks, and techniques from experts. Have you ever looked at your inbox and just felt exhausted by all the headlines screaming at you about what you “should” do right now to grow your business?

The Downside of the “Level” Playing Field

The internet has leveled the playing field of business in many ways. So many business and marketing tools that were once reserved for those who could afford to hire an agency or spendy consultant are now available to us through social media, and endless apps, software and tools. Not to mention the endless stream of information – blogs, newsletters, courses… It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

The downside of that level playing field is that there is so much information. It’s sometimes hard to judge the quality of it. And even high-quality business tools and advice may simply be a wrong fit for your business.

I’ve seen too many coaches and small business owners spend considerable time, money and energy on strategies that were ill-advised, or ones that were not appropriate for what stage of business they were in and the specific goals they were trying to achieve. Nothing is worse than putting a ton of effort into something without knowing until it’s way too late that those efforts were completely futile and a waste of your time. Especially when your income might depend on it.

An All-Too-Common Scenario

Here’s a common example I see all the time. Coaches and experts who are new in business often ask for my advice on building and selling an online course. Here are the questions I ask them, and the most frequent answers I get.

  • Do you have an email list? No. (Or a very small one.)
  • Do you have an established value proposition and a clear marketing message? No.
  • Do you have an established online presence? No.
  • Do you have an established social media following? No.
  • Do you have an established customer base? No.
  • Do you have an established client program that sells? No.
  • Do you have the skills to create and implement your own online marketing strategy? No.
  • Do you have the budget to pay someone to create and implement an online marketing strategy? No.

I ask these questions because these are things that typically need to be in place before you can launch a successful online course (or marketing any kind of coaching service effectively online) and generate income from it. But there’s so much hype on the internet about passive income and how “easy” it is to make a kajillion dollars with an online course, that everyone wants to do it but few of them really understand what is required.

And yes, you can make money (maybe even a kajillion) from an online course, but it’s not a short-term way to generate income, and there’s much more to it than most people think, especially if they don’t have strong online marketing skills, a solid message, and an established audience.

Most people who ask me this question appreciate my candor when I tell them I don’t recommend this strategy until they have more of a foundation in their business to grow on. I steer them toward something that makes more sense for where they’re at or a first step toward building the foundation for this long-term goal. And they are grateful to have a clear, manageable path forward.

And then there are those who don’t want to accept that they’re not ready for this strategy, so they try to do it anyway. They typically invest lots of time and money in DIY online marketing programs. I wish them luck, I truly do. But honestly, I have yet to see any of them strike it big or even strike it small, with this strategy.

Why? Because they’re not ready. It’s not the right time. And therefore it’s not the right strategy. They’re trying to put the roof on their house without building the foundation first. They are trying to bake their cake without mixing the ingredients first. They are trying to put their shoes on before their socks. None of those scenarios has a good outcome. And neither does a business strategy that you’re not ready for.

Ways to Avoid a Wrong-Fit Strategy

This common problem of wrong-fit strategies is complicated by all the predatory marketing in your inbox. Artificial high-stakes urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out) on that new and secret ONE thing that is going to magically transform your business. Or is it?

The fact is, when you’re stranded at the crossroads of the information highway, some of those offers are pretty tempting. And the reality is, a few of them might actually help you. But before you jump into a strategy or invest in something new, be clear about what you’d like to get out of it. Do you need to get clear on your message? Do you need help making sure your message is reaching the right people? Do you want to master the heck out of client enrollment skills?

Here are a few tips to help you avoid wasting time and money on business strategies that could be a bust.

  • Know what result you want before you commit. Do your homework and find out if this strategy is the right path to getting that result.
  • Have a set of clear criteria to help you make a smart decision.
  • Ask questions before handing over your credit card to make sure there’s a clear ROI.
  • Find out what you need to have in place in order to benefit from the program. For example, if you want use speaking as a marketing strategy, but you don’t have a clear target market or program offering yet, it’s going to be hard to create a signature talk if you don’t know what you’re selling or who you’re selling it to.
  • Talk to a qualified business coach or mentor who can help you make an informed decision.

Take action! Journaling questions to get clarity…

  1. Where do you need the most help in your business right now?
  2. How do you know now is the right time for you to work on this particular challenge?
  3. Is there anything that needs to be in place before you can take this next step?


Did you miss the beginning of the Marketing Mistakes series? You can read it here.