Graham McGregor

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Graham McGregor: My biggest marketing mistake

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Graham McGregor talks about how to get valuable lessons from your mistakes.

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

When I look back over my 35 years in business there is one big marketing mistake that I wish I had fixed a lot faster than I did.

My single biggest marketing mistake was not staying in touch and adding value to three groups of people.

1: My existing clients and customers.

This was pretty foolish because these people had already spent money with me.
And they were in a perfect position to make repeat purchases and give me referral business as well.

2: My potential clients

These were people that I had met with or given information to, but had not yet bought. I made the mistake of thinking that if they didn't buy in the near future they were not worthwhile staying in touch with.

What I forgot was that people don't buy for many reasons and a common one is that the timing is wrong. And if I stayed in touch and added value, then many of these people would be happy to buy from me when the timing was better for them.

3: Key centres of influence

These people were important to me because they could each potentially refer large numbers of new clients to me on a regular basis.

I recall when I was selling advertising many years ago. I had one business person I met who really liked me. And over a 2 year period he referred dozens of his business colleagues and was directly responsible for a huge number of advertising sales.

Yet I made the mistake of not staying in touch and adding value to him on a regular basis.

It took one of my clients to make me realise I was making this mistake.

At the time I worked for a company that sold an expensive product.

In my first year I hardly stayed in touch with clients, potential clients and centres of influence.

One day a person named Steve wrote me a letter that said he was very surprised about not hearing from me after becoming a client. He told me he was a good potential source of repeat and referral business and that I should treat him better.

I was embarrassed to get Steve's letter because I actually knew the importance of staying in touch and adding value to clients. (I had just forgotten to do it.)

So I started sending every person on my database a personal note with something of value each month.

One note might have a couple of free movie passes with it and said "Thanks for being a client. I thought you would appreciate a couple of free movie passes with my compliments."

Another personal note might include a short motivational article I had come across on something like goal setting. It would say "Hi John, thought you might enjoy this short article on goal setting. Regards Graham."

Within 12 months of staying in touch with added value I started getting calls, emails and even letters from people telling me how much they appreciated me doing this.

I got referrals, I got repeat sales and best of all I now had a great relationship with many of my clients and contacts. My client Steve made a repeat purchase and gave me a referral to a family member who also became a good client.

I learned from this experience that making mistakes is pretty normal and can often produce valuable learning lessons.

"Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from." - Al Franken

Action Exercise:
Review your last 12 months of sales and marketing activities. What did you try that didn't work that well and what valuable lessons did you learn from doing this?

- NZ Herald

Graham McGregor is a marketing consultant and the creator of the 396 page 'Unfair Business Advantage Report.' available at his website. (This is free and has now been read by business owners from 27 countries. ) You can email Graham on graham@twomac.co.nz

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