Oops, I Did It Again
How to Avoid These Nine Common Marketing MistakesBusiness generally doesn’t just find you. You have to work hard to educate and attract the people who want and need your product or service. That’s marketing.
But the game has changed dramatically over the last five years or so, as the economy forced businesses to tighten up their expenses. In addition, social media has leveled the playing field and enabled small companies with tiny budgets to compete with much larger companies that have deep pockets. It has become very tempting for businesses to consolidate staff or try a do-it-yourself approach to their marketing.
Be it unfamiliarity, lack of education, or square pegs in round holes, there are a lot of marketing mistakes costing companies precious dollars these days. Are you making any of the following mistakes?
1. Me, Me, Me Messages
Nobody cares about how great you are, how long you’ve been in business, and that you’ve got good service. They only care about what they get. The old adage, ‘what’s in it for me?’ is truer now than ever before in people’s over-scheduled lives. They care about things that make their lives easier, save them time, help them, and solve a problem, so don’t bother with marketing messages that don’t point out how you can benefit them.
Benefits are much more effective in piquing interest than features. Take care to minimize and remove language that emphasizes the words, I, me, we, us, my, and our and turn your message around to what ‘you’ get.
Hint: Read the first page of your website. If your message isn’t primarily about ‘you,’ meaning ‘your customer,’ you might be wise to hire a good copywriter for a tuneup.
2. Not Tracking Results or Return on Investment
If you aren’t tracking results, how can you be sure which marketing efforts are paying off? This should be true of every marketing tactic that you use, be it something traditional — such as a TV ad, membership in an organization, or a print ad — or new-media initiatives, like a Facebook page, Google AdWords, or a Pinterest contest.
Tracking results can help you react quickly when something isn’t working quite right. If you watch carefully, you will be able to switch gears when messages get stale or don’t hit their mark. Pinpointing lead sources is certainly more difficult, as people tend to jump all around the web en route to you, but there are ways to track your results, and it’s to your advantage to know where you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
Hint: If you want to drive traffic to your website, Google Analytics is a terrific tool for gauging the success of your efforts. You can see exactly where your traffic is coming from. You can also build unique landing pages on your website that are fed from different lead sources. Or you could obtain a special phone number or embed a special offer to track a particular advertisement. The more specific you can be, the better.
3. Neglecting to Set Goals
If you haven’t set goals, how will you determine when something is successful? Every business has its own measurement of success, and, likewise, each marketing tactic and/or campaign should also have its own objectives. Be specific. For example, a Facebook page could have many different objectives over its lifetime: growing its fan base (‘likes’), building interaction, or driving traffic to your website. Set your goals before you implement something new, and set new ones for subsequent campaigns.
Hint: If you want to increase sales of a particular product, check how your numbers have been in the past, decide on a reasonable expectation for the promotion you plan to put forth, and establish a number that you want to hit within a certain timeframe. This will allow you to react during the process, adjusting your marketing or augmenting if necessary, so you can achieve your goal.
4. Not Testing
The ability to cost-effectively test something new varies by media, but it is usually very easy to do on new-media channels. Use them to see who is attracted to particular messages, what time they see them, etc., and then use this information in other venues to help better target your ads.
Hint: Many companies test-market videos on YouTube, which gives them the ability to see how many people watch their videos within a particular timeframe, the demographics of those viewers, and how much of the video they watched, without having to buy expensive TV time. Post your own test videos and use this information to customize future videos and marketing messages that better appeal to your target audience.
5. Refusing to Try Something New (Especially When the Old Stuff Stops Working)
Familiarity is comforting, but an old advertising tactic that used to work, but is barely producing new leads, is wasting your money. Suppose you used to get lots of business whenever you ran a particular TV ad, and you haven’t seen those results for a long time, but you keep running the same old ad because you like having your friends and family see you on TV. Wouldn’t it make more sense to shift that money into something new? This could be a fresh, new TV spot, direct mail, radio, or new media. The possibilities are endless.
Hint: Don’t let your ego get in the way of bringing business through the door. Business owners, their kids, and their pets are usually not the best TV personalities, and they often actually turn off potential customers.
6. Misusing QR codes
A QR code is a two-dimensional bar code that can be scanned with a smartphone and takes a user to a webpage. They are best utilized for a user to get more information about whatever you are promoting in print, which could be on something such as a mailer or print ad. The single greatest misuse of a barcode is using it to link to a webpage that is not optimized for mobile. This just wastes the user’s time and causes frustration because non-mobile-optimized pages are very difficult to read and navigate on a small screen.
Other mistakes include neglecting to provide the ‘more information’ that you promised, and using QR codes on the web or within e-mail.
Hint: You can stop printing product information through the simple use of a QR code applied to your product, which brings your customer to the right page on your website for all the information he needs for the use and service of your product.
7. Buying Lists and Fans
You’ve likely seen offers of thousands of e-mail addresses or Facebook fans for your page, but what is the worth of someone who doesn’t want or need what you have to sell? Doesn’t it make more sense to talk to someone who has interest in your product or service and may actually purchase from you? Lists that you can purchase are usually not targeted, and the e-mail addresses are usually not connected to people who opted in to receive your messages, so they will consider you a spammer. That can lead to big problems.
Purchased Facebook fans are no more valuable, as it’s easy enough to hide a page feed from one’s newsfeed, so your messages aren’t being seen. Yes, your number of fans may seem impressive, but those fans are worthless if they never receive your messages and have no interest in what you’re selling.
Hint: Even when creating your own e-mail list, make sure it is comprised only of people who opt in to receive your messages. Sending to the e-mail addresses of your social-media connections and those from business cards that you collect is impolite and unprofessional. These people will likely consider your messages spam.
8. Letting a Non-marketer Coordinate Your Social Media
Social media for business is a marketing function. Yes, any kid fresh out of college can set up a Facebook page and Twitter account for you, but what do they know about marketing your business? What messages will they send? How will they handle angry or disappointed customers? Will they plan and track?
Hint: There is a reason that it’s called social-media marketing. When looking for someone to handle your social media, make sure that they understand how to market your business. If you wouldn’t put them in a traditional marketing job, they are not qualified to handle your social media either, unless working under the direction of someone who is a marketer.
9. Separating Digital Marketing from Traditional Marketing
Social media and traditional marketing are so closely intertwined within companies these days that separating them makes as much sense as having your sales and marketing departments operate exclusive of each other. Campaigns should be synched so that you’re not sending competing or non-complementary messages. This also prevents the danger of one department not knowing what the other is doing and possibly undercutting each other.
Hint: Create a system whereby information freely flows between traditional- and new-media people within your business. This could be accomplished via daily or weekly meetings, a spreadsheet that team members update, or perhaps even through a private Facebook group, where departmental activity and plans are logged. Facebook displays to the group leader who reads what content on its groups, so it is apparent when something has or has not been read. Regardless of the method, communication is critical.
Everybody wants a good return on their marketing investments, so if you’re making any of the above mistakes, changing course just might not only save you money, but also bring in more business to boot.
If you’re in over your head or many of the techniques mentioned above are Greek to you, perhaps it’s time to call in a qualified marketer to bring fresh ideas to the table.
Christine Pilch Mancini owns Grow My Company and is a marketing strategist. She trains businesses to utilize LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, blogging, and other social-media tools to grow, and she collaborates with professional service firms to get results through innovative positioning and branding strategies; (413) 537-2474; growmyco.com; linkedin.com/in/christinepilch;