I had some time off recently and spent some of it considering the most common problems I see when I first start working with clients, in an effort to help customize some new marketing training materials. I brainstormed over 50 issues that can prevent small business marketers from achieving their desired results, but most small business marketing problems can be categorized in a few broad categories, so I refined my list to share with you in hopes your business will be able to avoid these common pitfalls and create the marketing ROI it deserves:
- Lack of planning. Yes, you’ve heard it so many times you likely tune it out. Or maybe you keep your plan “all in your head.” Either way, if you don’t have a written plan with a solid strategy, goals and measurable objectives, it’s going to be darn near impossible to put the structure in place to make your marketing “work” for your business.
- You don’t know who your customer truly is. Knowing who you are marketing to is ground zero for an effective marketing program yet so many businesses skip over this step completely in their marketing planning. If you don’t have an intimate knowledge of who you are selling to, you can’t possibly choose the right channels and messaging or anything else that will attract them to your business.
- Letting budget be the sole driver of your strategy. Marketing is an investment in your business, as such you should be prepared to pay for some of the tactics that you need to fulfill your strategic marketing plan. Choosing the tactics you will use simply because they are no or low-cost is not an effective way to run your marketing program.
- Having a herd mentality. Just because “everyone” else or your mother/brother/neighbor are using a specific social media platform or your competition is running ads on a certain blog doesn’t mean that you need to follow them. In fact, unless it makes sense to use those platforms to connect with your target audience or prospects, you shouldn’t use them.
- Copycatting the competition. If you’re obsessed with tracking every little thing your competitors do online, in print and elsewhere, you need to bring your focus back to the marketing life of your own company. Monitoring the competitive market is one thing, copycatting the competition instead of being engaged in your own marketing strategy is quite another.
- Being inconsistent. It’s a cardinal sin of corporate communications, public relations, strategic branding and positioning…if you’re not consistent in timing (Don’t “set it and forget it!”), voice, message and visual aesthetics, your efforts are more likely to confuse people and be detrimental to your company.
- You don’t measure it…so you don’t really know if it’s working. Many of us just love instant gratification. Humans, in general, are hardwired to seek the greatest reward with the least amount of effort. That’s why many businesses post to social media, push out an email or run an ad and then never follow-up to track the results at a more granular and objective level. Instead, because there was no immediate uptick in sales or inquiries they consider their efforts a failure instead of looking at marketing as a long game.
- Your employees are not brand trained. The true test of an effective brand marketing strategy begin, and ends, at the front line of your organization. The actual interactions that customers and prospects have with your company are what will drive value and determine if you’ll win the business or not. Train your employees to deliver on the promises you make as an organization and you will see positive results.
- Your marketing is all about you. I call this “we-zing”…if your company website, ad copy, social media and all other channels of communication only talk about how great “we” (your collective company and employees) are, you need to do a 180 and become clear about whom you are serving and what they need, so you can reframe your marketing messages to resonate with your customers.
- You do nothing. Maybe you’re not a pessimist who has given up on marketing, but you’re likely a very busy business owner. If you don’t have a marketing lead at your business or a third-party marketing service, it’s easy to put marketing on the back burner. Likewise, if you feel overwhelmed with no idea of how to choose from the array of marketing tactics out there, it’s easy to become paralyzed. Break out of the rut and ask for help!
This is by no means a comprehensive list of problems small business owners face when it comes to creating effective marketing programs, but if you do recognize your own struggles on the list, know that you are not alone and that Charisma Ink’s marketing experts are always ready to help!