Campaign Monitor offers a recurring series titled Marketing Mistakes which is about the biggest email or digital marketing missteps made by various thought leaders across the industry. As these leaders share some hard-won wisdom from earlier in their careers, the rest of us have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes without the accompanying costly consequences.
In this series, we’ll cover the mistakes people have made, how they fixed them, and what they learned in order to make us all better digital marketers.
Marketing Mistakes with Mari Smith, the queen of Facebook
Mari Smith is widely known as the premier Facebook marketing expert and a top social media thought leader. Mari is a sought after keynote speaker and brand ambassador for leading organizations, helping them establish social media marketing that connects with their audience and builds a loyal following.
Image Source: Mari Smith International, Inc.
She is also an expert webinar leader, live webcast host, and author of The New Relationship Marketing and co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day.
But before she was social media marketing royalty, she was CEO of Mari Smith International, Inc., and her company was about to take off. Unfortunately, Mari wouldn’t quite be ready to handle all the rapid growth without encountering a few snags along the way.
Read on to discover what she did and how you can avoid her mistake:
Mari’s biggest marketing mistake
When she was CEO of Mari Smith International, Inc., Mari owned more than just the company. She was responsible for growing the business in every way. She headed up marketing for her business, driving sales and revenue, as well as actually delivering the promised services.
She was no longer just starting out. Her business was doing well and, in fact, it was about to experience exponential growth unlike anything it had undergone before. Up until that point, Mari had still been able to handle most tasks on her own.
But not for much longer.
The mistake: Not hiring enough employees to anticipate growth
Mari Smith International, Inc. had grown beyond a one-woman operation at that point, and Mari worked with a small team of virtual assistants and freelance contractors. And while that worked for a while, contractors and virtual assistants couldn’t cut it when it was time to graduate to the next level.
“Without certain key roles filled with dedicated full-time team members, I’ve limited my growth.”
Full-time team members bring dedication and creativity to projects that freelance professionals just can’t.
Takeaway: Working with contract employees might work for your business, but don’t underestimate the power of bringing on full-time team members who can be dedicated to your company and its success.
Working harder, not smarter
According to Mari, “My Achilles heel is that I can turn my hand to such a variety of skills, and I really have trouble delegating.” When it’s your name on the company, it’s understandable that you feel responsible for every single thing that has to get done, but if you want to grow past a certain point, you’ll run out of bandwidth.
While you might have the desire and even the skill to do it all, there will come a time when you no longer have the time or the energy.
I allowed myself to get caught up ‘doing it all’ and worked longer hours: working harder not smarter.
Takeaway: Just because you have the skills to “do it all” doesn’t mean you should.
Prepare for the growth you want
Although she’d been running her own business since the early 2000s and started specializing in Facebook in 2007, her business really skyrocketed in 2009 when everything seemed to line up.
After being active as a Facebook marketing expert for several years, Mari found success teaching, speaking, and presenting webinars aimed at helping businesses develop their Facebook marketing strategy.
Building this loyal following meant she had a section of her audience that eagerly wanted a training program, and that’s exactly what Mari delivered. She launched “Mentoring with Mari” in the spring of 2009, which then catapulted her business forward.
“Things were pregnant with possibility and I just didn’t realize it. But I’d been laying the groundwork for years.”
Takeaway: When you’re trying to grow, don’t forget about the devoted audience you already have. While you need new customers, consider the ways your current following can take your business and your revenue to the next level
What I missed: Opportunities for growth during a period of growth
Opening the floodgates
Mari put up a sales page on her website with very little information, asking people to pay a fully refundable deposit just to figure out what the pitch was about.
This tactic meant she “got rid of the looky-loos,” allowing her to focus on high-value leads who didn’t balk at paying in advance for a well-trusted thought leader. While some people decided they weren’t interested and asked for their money back, plenty of people were glad they bought in.
The floodgates opened and Mari’s business pretty much tripled overnight. “In hindsight,” she tells us, “I ought to have staffed up well in advance.”
While it’s difficult to anticipate exactly what new hires you’re going to need and how many, taking the time to think ahead and strategize before launching a big initiative can be the difference between sustaining a new rate of growth and continuing to increase it.
Takeaway: When you offer a higher-end, big-ticket product, think outside of the box to create curiosity and mystique around the offer in order to build anticipation and drive in leads.
Opportunities fell through the cracks
Ironically, even though her company experienced massive growth, not staffing up early enough meant Mari couldn’t and didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that accompanied the rapid expansion. “I know there were numerous opportunities back then that ended up falling through the cracks,” she said.
Not to mention, she had to push herself to get everything done, often at the expense of her own self-care.
“I had to say ‘no’ to some invitations as I was so caught up in the operation of my business, in conjunction with being the talent delivering all the training, speaking, consulting, etc.”
Of course, Mari loves what she does and wouldn’t change being the talent behind her business. But that meant she couldn’t scale her company properly while also covering so many roles, even with the small team she had.
Takeaway: Find what area of your company or what projects you cannot step away from and delegate other tasks. You’ll be able to invest more of your time, energy, and skills into the tasks and projects where you’re most effective
What I learned: The right team makes all the difference
Don’t forget the coach
Mari learned that no matter how good you are at what you do, your business will eventually reach a point where you can no longer manage everything on your own. And that’s a good thing! But when that time comes, you’ll need to ask for help in more ways than one, such as hiring a business coach, seeking mentors, and recruiting the right team.
That’s what Mari learned: “It’s impossible to truly grow my business without a skilled coach and without the right team members.”
In addition to guiding you and offering assistance as you build your business strategy, the right coach can also help you decide who the right team members are: The right people will bring their A-game to their work every day, ultimately impacting the bottom line across the board, in all roles.
Takeaway: No one can do it all on their own. Having the right people in place will help your business succeed without sacrificing the quality of your life.
Say yes with discernment
Mari also learned to be much more mindful when saying yes, only saying yes to specific things and always taking commitments seriously.
“I do my best to stay focused on my ‘one thing’ that impacts everything else. For me, that is creating content, typically in the form of educational Facebook live video broadcasts on my business page, along with leading webinars and speaking.”
Takeaway: Find the one thing you do best that differentiates you and your business and give that role everything you’ve got.
The solution: Hire your all-star team
Guidance for you, guidance for your team
So in 2011, Mari hired a highly skilled business development coach who guided her in recruiting the right team members for her business growth. And it worked: Within just a few months of that hire, everything changed for her and her business.
“I ended up generating my previous year’s annual revenue in one week during Q1 the following year.”
Takeaway: Having the right team in place will help you, your business, and your bottom line.
Her advice? Ask for help.
Mari’s advice? “Absolutely do not be afraid to put your hand up and ask for help!” You shouldn’t expect yourself to know how to run your business as it grows and expands. You’re exploring new territory, after all, so Mari suggests getting a mentor and/or a business coach to help you and your business succeed.
To that end, join a Mastermind that’s a good fit for the role you’re growing into. Regardless of your experience level, seek people out who are where you’re at, but who are also looking to move forward.
“Seek out opportunities to grow yourself as a person. Document all your internal processes. Be sure to hire slow and fire fast! Clarity on the vision and goals of your business will help identify the ideal team members you need.”
Takeaway: Surround yourself with people who will help you grow, whether that’s a mastermind, a mentor, a business coach, a great team, or some mixture of them all.
Whether you’re just starting out or your business has gained some momentum, knowing when to delegate and hire more help is a valuable skill. But more than that, not knowing when to bring in more people can be detrimental to your company. It might seem like everything with your business is fine, and business is progressing as usual, but business as usual is rarely the point.
Usually, you want your company to thrive, not just succeed.
This means surrounding yourself with the right people and the right mentors. Take it from Mari, you want to be ready when your business takes off. Don’t wait to prepare yourself, your team, and your strategy until you start gaining momentum, because by that point, you’ll already be behind.