Over the years, we have witnessed some terrible marketing blunders. In fact, it can make one cringe to witness the financial loss associated with many of those mistakes. Certainly, we learn most from our failures than our successes but when history repeats itself over and over again, we’re foolish not to avoid the common pitfalls.
It would be easy to list more than ten of the biggest marketing mistakes, but we feel that this does a good job of addressing some of the common items to be acutely aware of.
1. Tactics Without Strategy
It’s very easy to jump right into tactics and creative ideas and sometimes we allow convince ourselves that those are the directions we should go based on what our instinct is telling us. However, without a well thought out and planned strategy, tactical ideas will not be designed to deliver measurable results and success.
Investing in research together with the establishment of success metrics, provides the foundation for the development of strategic plan that takes the guesswork out of any proposed execution. Marketing is an important investment and is the precursor to sales. A carefully developed strategy helps protect that investment and should not be overlooked.
2. No Metrics
If you don’t have any way of measuring the success of your marketing investment, how will you know if you’ve obtained any ROI? So many people make the mistake of expecting a feeling to overcome them, thus alerting them that success was realized. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. Before planning any marketing initiative, it’s incredibly important to establish a set of metrics that will measure the success of its implementation. It starts with clearly stating your goals and objectives, followed by determining your key performance indicators (KPIs), and dynamic benchmarks which are adjusted immediately after each one has been attained.
What does success look like for you in one or several areas? Once you’ve reached your mark, move it up higher and higher. You are only limited by your desire for success.
3. No Budget
Individuals who do not budget for anything, can find themselves often going over budget and borrowing often. Budgeting in business isn’t any different. As stated before, marketing is an investment and it requires strict budgetary parameters so that it fits within a business’ overall annual budget. It’s important to set aside a percentage of anticipated annual revenue as one’s marketing budget so that it can be invested in the right places with the purpose of fueling anticipated and desired revenue objectives.
Another issue is when a budget is not allocated and is spent in only one area. Successful marketing is the result of a mix of media, disciplines, methodologies, and channels all working together to meet a common set of goals and objectives. Don’t put “all your eggs in one basket” because it will surely fail and your valuable financial investment will be depleted without a ROI.
4. No USP
Every brand and business must have a unique selling proposition (USP). It’s nearly impossible to create a business model that is 100% unique and has zero competitors although sometimes people feel that they may have landed on something like that. As a result, every brand and business needs to establish what sets them apart from the competition and what they are delivering to the consumer that is unique. Sure, you can say that your product/service is better or that your attention to customer service is unparalleled but people have heard that a thousand times and are jaded. Focus on USPs that truly differentiate your business such as a proprietary process you have or an innovative way that you address customer support.
5. Audience Unknown
Fully understanding the audience you are attempting to connect with is an essential part of one’s marketing strategy. It starts with demographic information but needs to get deeper into psychographics, ethnographics, technographics, behaviors, interests, etc. The more you know about the audience, the clearer your audience profiles can be. Having clearly developed audience profiles will ensure that your marketing communications are specifically relevant to those that are ideal consumers and customers of your products/services.
6. No plan
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” If you lack a business plan, marketing communications plan, or any plan whatsoever, you lack the framework that will guide your vision to success realization. Start with an outline and then beef it up over time. Keep in mind that these plans are living and breathing documents that should evolve over time just as your business does.
7. Not Addressing Needs and Wants
It’s fairly common for businesses to think of their goals and objectives when preparing their marketing plan. In fact, it’s a good practice to focus marketing initiatives on achieving or exceeding them. However, success can not be realized without addressing the needs and wants of the consumer or intended audience. What problem of theirs are you solving and are you communicating that as clearly as possible?
The audience that you wish to connect with has needs and wants that require attention and marketing messaging that does not answer those is perceived as noise. By connecting with that audience as a problem solver with a solution that fits their needs and wants, will ensure that you break through the clutter of a fragmented media landscape.
8. No why
You have defined your features and benefits as well as what you consider to be your unique selling proposition or differentiators. What about the reason you matter? Why should the consumer care? Are you relevant and why? These are important questions that require sincere and clear answers in order to connect to the desired audience.
9. Not creating customer ambassadors
Gaining new customers is important and should be an ongoing strategy of any business. Additionally, careful attention should be given to the current and active customers. It is much easier to grow current client business then adding new ones. Happy customers are the best and most trusted cheerleaders for your brand. Harness the influence of your customers and convert their advocacy to brand ambassadorship.
10. No marketing
Seems like a joke, right? Sadly, it isn’t. Many small businesses feel that marketing is an unnecessary expense that is better spent in other areas of their business. They feel that “if you build it, they will come” and that word of mouth will drive business by simply serving customers well. While, there is no doubt that the success of a business starts with its operation and service, without marketing, a business will struggle to succeed.
Coca-Cola and many of the top ten global brands aggressively invest in marketing every year in order to compete for leadership in their category and maintain preference by consumers. Successful companies know that marketing is an investment and not an expense and as with other investments, must produce a return.