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3 Mistakes That Will Keep You from Succeeding Online

I've been working the Internet since 1998. I've made a career out of working with business owners wanting to use the Internet to generate sales, increase efficiencies and reduce costs. I'm used to working with business owners looking for opportunities that will make a difference for them and their business.

It's been a fun 20 years and in that time I've:

  • built hundreds of for-profit and non-profit business websites,
  • worked with dozens and dozens of online marketing tools,
  • attended way too many to count online marketing conferences,
  • purchased a good number of programs for learning and refining my craft,
  • been actively involved in no less than five longer term mastermind groups, and
  • worked with business owners selling what they do in all sorts of markets.

I'm not bragging, but like the Farmer's Insurance guys says, "We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two."

When you've been at this as long as I have, you see decisions business owners make that lead them no where. You see patterns that sets of them follow that just don't work. As a result, I've seen people miss out opportunities that could have been there's and go through so much more trouble than is necessary.

Here are the top three mistakes I've seen business owners make when taking on online marketing. Please share with me if these are ones you or someone you know have made.

Mistake 1: Fearing You Will Do Something Stupid

"That is sooooo stupid." I've heard it said so many times. It's a phrase that keeps people from trying something new, daring, bold.  Business owners usually hear a line like that from someone they care for that has NEVER done anything successful online. They fear they will look stupid in front of someone who's approval they want. They fall prey to fear and it keeps them from doing the thing that may be what they need be successful.

I'll pick the obvious, but who would have thought that selling books (of all things) online back in the  90's was a good idea. I'm sure Jeff Besos here heard it from people who thought that idea was stupid.

I've seen way too many ideas I originally thought were dumb succeeded. I stopped predicting success a long time ago. A big reason is because in the early 90's thought a $2.00+ cup of expresso would never sell. As a Cuban raised in Miami, I've always been a big coffee drinker. Back then, you could get a $.25 shot of expresso on street corner kiosks anywhere in Miami. The advent of coffee houses had already caught on in the West Coast, but it hadn't made it to Miami yet. Boy was I wrong on that one.

That and a few other blunders of mine led me to stop calling anything stupid a long time ago. Instead, I rely on research, experimentation and "the numbers." The numbers never lie. The those be the ones that declare stupidity for you.

The one thing I tell a lot of people is that even if you try something others think is stupid, it won't be something most people will remember if it does fail. If it succeeds, no one will ever remember it was originally called stupid and it won't matter anyway.

One the marketing and promotion side, try a crazy idea. Have fun with it. Our team and I use a lot of short promo videos on social media. At the beginning, I heard people tell me the promo videos were stupid.  Now I have people tell me once a week, "I saw your video.  They are so funny."  The videos aren't my deal closers, but they do keep me top of mind with a lot of prospects and customers.


Mistake 2: Giving Up Too Quickly

Entrepreneurship takes a lot of trial and error, persistence and hard work. Anyone starting their own business should prepare to take on the absolute toughest challenge they will ever face.

Clate Mast, the CEO of Infusionsoft, shared in a video recently his struggle when he started the firm. He and the starting partners assumed it would take 6 to 12 months to get the company going. They were taking on a measly $2000 a month income and he was running a household with 4 kids.  After 3 years, he was still at it with no increase in pay. He admitted that many times, he was ready to quit and look for a "real job" and that was a real source of strain at home with his wife.

Infusionsoft is now doing extremely well and I'm sure his home finances are not a problem for him. That's the sort of "stick to it-ness" is what you need to be successful in any business.

As for doing online marketing, you have to be persistent as well. It doesn't mean that you do the same thing over and over again expecting success. (Is that the definition of insanity?) The point is you try something and check the numbers.

  • Did that work?
  • Did it not work?
  • Why?

Then you make adjustments and try something different based on what you learned. A lot of times, you'll select a niche. It could be the right niche. It might not. When you finish running the experiment, you see what that got you.

Keep in mind that if you pick a niche or a campaign or a new way of promoting yourself and it doesn't net you additional sales, profits, etc., it still gave you some sort of visibility. The average person that saw you run the promotion didn't see the failed numbers you see behind the scenes. They saw more of you. This visibility alone can be powerful.

I've run some campaigns that didn't get me the results I expected. If you haven't seen a failed attempt before, you haven't tried enough.  I once targeted a new market and in the process, I created a list of 6000+ business owners in a very specific niche. I wasn't able to sell them as I expected. Basically, it was a failure.

I could have chucked it off as a complete waste, but at the end, I had this new list of 6000+. So my next step was to thing about what I could do with it.  It led to me becoming an affiliate selling what other people wanted to sell to that segment. The success from that failure came from what I was able to sell to that list I created.

It wasn't what I expected, but it turned out that way.


Mistake 3: Doing It with No Outside Help

I've seen business owner do this time and time again. They are really good at what they do. I might be law, accounting, coaching realtors, etc. Then they decide they are going to learn Facebook paid advertising, ad retargeting, blogging, email name it. The convince themselves they can do it well for themselves. They have never done it before, but after going over a few YouTube videos or a program they purchased, they assume they know enough to take it on.

I completely understand that small business owners are often tight for cash. Lack of funding is the number one reason why new businesses fail. But taking on a new technology or program that is 100% outside your area of expertise is a mistake. You as a business owner don't have time for that.

Our best customers in the membership site building side of our business are business owners who have learned enough about membership sites and online course building to understand what they want. They also know enough to know that it isn't something they should do on their own. They believe they can actually do it, but it won't be as well done as an expert would have done it and it is not a very effective use of their time.

Those are the three biggest mistakes I recommend business owners avoid. These are the ones you absolutely should stay away from so you succeed with your online marketing.

Let me know what you think.