Back when I was just starting Zwelly I made a lot of mistakes, especially when it came to marketing. Truth is I still make a lot of mistakes but there are 8 big ones that I’ll never make again.
1 – Direct mail campaign
I once spent hundreds of dollars putting together a big direct mail campaign that included business cards, a brochure on the different services I offered and a letter saying hello. After sending to hundreds of local businesses I thought I’d be drowning in new projects — Not the case. I didn’t get a single response from the campaign.
A few years later, after thinking a lot about why it didn’t work — I tried again, but decided to go even bigger because that must have been the problem. New books, new cards, new letters — same result.
Direct mail may work for some, but not me.
2 – Cold email/calling
When I first started Zwelly, I thought there was only one way to market my new business, to send cold emails and calls to everyone I could find online.
Truth is that it did work occasionally but at a rate of about 1 sale for every 200-300 tries. That took countless hours that I could have spent doing meaningful work or reaching out to people on better terms.
3 – Trying to focus on too many things
When zwelly started, it was more of a one stop shop agency. I offered design, web and animation because I could do all of those things. The problem is nobody knew exactly why they’d come to Zwelly for work. It was confusing to them that I offered an array of different solutions and appeared I didn’t specialize in anything.
4 – Spending hundreds on social media without clear goal
Social media ads can be a great thing if done right, but when I first started, I would just promote random things like services or a new portfolio piece without any clear goal except views. At best I’d get a few new likes and follows but I learned that buying only views will rarely give you a ROI.
5 – Trying to reach as big of an audience as possible.
My goal with all marketing was to target an extremely wide range of audience. While trying to connect with everyone, I wasn’t connected with anyone.
6 – Spam
I had a 200+ person email list completely made up of people I added without true permission. I was proud of this list but after a lot of unsubscribes I learned that I likely annoyed people more than helped them with the “all about us” emails. (more on that in #8)
7 – Not enough Testing
I spent too much time researching new strategies and not enough time finding out for myself what does and doesn’t work. It’s much easier to act on actual numbers than it is to make predictions based on what works for others.
8 – Not giving value.
The root problem with all the previous 7 mistakes is that I wasn’t giving value. Like many other companies, I became known as an asking/taking company rather than one that helps people with their problems.
While I do believe mistakes are important to learning, I hope the mistakes that I’ve made will help you grow your business.
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