While having the right strategy and applying the right tactics is critical to success in any area of your business, avoiding common pitfalls is just as important.
In marketing, it is surprising how many businesses make the same mistakes and fail to learn from their past errors. Here are ten common errors I see regularly and you need to avoid:
- Cutting back in the bad times. It seems many business owners think the best way to reduce expenses when revenues drop is to cut back on sales and marketing. Reducing your promotional activities in the bad times will inevitably lead to more reduction in revenue and make it more difficult to regain market share when the market improves.
- I’m over-exposed. All too often businesses will cut back too hard when things are going good or they think a campaign has created adequate exposure – they don’t see the need for continued lead generation. In good times businesses may not need more leads, but they should be looking to maintain brand awareness and trust. Marketing shouldn’t stop; it just needs a different focus.
- If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Businesses that don’t measure their marketing cannot tell how successful it is and whether the type of marketing they are undertaking is wasting time, money and opportunities. I am not talking a need for ‘big data’ here, but you should be measuring where your leads are coming from and the level of success you are having from each source.
- You can’t be all things to all people. Successful businesses know their ideal customer, the problems they solve for these ideal customers and the benefits they deliver to them. By narrowing your focus you can be more targeted with your marketing. Remember the 80/20 rule? It applies here as well – you are much better off having focus on the 20% of the market that will potentially provide you with 80% of your business than vice versa.
- Playing ‘follow the leader’. It’s a fun game for your kids, but not for marketing. Don’t try to match your competitors offers or even to be better. What your market wants is what makes you the best solution for their need. Be different. Shout out your value proposition, not mirror someone else’s.
- Out with the old, in with the new. It might not seem obvious, but it is just as important to market to your existing clients as it is to potential clients. Statistics over the years continue to support the belief that it costs 5 – 7 times more to attract a new client than to retain an existing one. Marketing to your existing base helps keep you ‘top of mind’ for when they again need your product or service. And this may not be overt marketing but simply having a good system of follow up in place.
- Failing to feed your campaign. You have decided to invest in marketing so don’t just see it as a cost that can be cut back when times are tough. This will cost you opportunities and business. Unless your P&L has an allocation for marketing and you are prepared to see this as an investment in your business, your are not serious about growing your business.
- Being a marketing ‘handyman’. DIY shows might be popular on TV at the moment, but trusting your marketing to gut feel and what you’ve picked up from books and online is not going to provide you with the best results. Things change quickly in business and marketing is no different. Engaging a professional to help you map out your marketing strategy and guide you on the implementation will allow you to focus on your core business and deliver the best return on your marketing investment.
- Having all your eggs in one basket. Just as it a good idea to diversify your investment portfolio, so to your marketing. Having a balanced marketing mix will spread your investment and allow your to spread your message across several channels. But this does not mean random placement. You still need to be mindful of where your target customers get their information and where they congregate – that is where you need to be seen.
- Lack of consistency. Businesses that continually change their strategy or message confuse the market and their potential customers. Marketing campaigns are not all going to provide immediate return. They need time to develop momentum.