Like parenting there is no book that can tell you exactly how to run and market your unique business…though there are many authors who may beg to differ. However there are some proven tactics, and several common mistakes. In this post, I’ll outline the five mistakes that we have seen time and again over the past 20 years.
1. Assuming that since you built it they will come
It’s a big world out there; consumers and business owners are approached from every angle to purchase all sorts of products and services. How will your widget stand out from the rest? In today’s Internet driven world, many businesses believe that regardless of the type of business they’re in, all that is needed is a website to draw customers from near and far to purchase their coveted product. Then once the site is up, a new question arises: How do we let people know our new cool website is here?
Solution: Before launching a new product or service, determine how you will get in front of your target audience and make sure that you have the budget to do so.
2. Going from year to year without a plan or goal
Too many businesses roll from year to year with no clear plan of who they are, what they really provide to their customers, how it is better than their competitors, and why their customer should not live without their product…not the product they sell, but their product specifically. If your team is on a life raft in the middle of the ocean, are you all rowing in different directions? Is there one person who is rowing fiercely in one direction though no one knows if it’s toward land? Or does everyone have a clear idea of where the raft should go, and is taking turns rowing at a steady pace toward the agreed upon destination?
Solution: Take the time to write down who you are, what you do and how you do it better and revisit it every year. Once that is determined, create an annual strategic plan. If your mission, goals and tactics are clear internally you will have a better chance of attracting the right customers and achieving your long term goals.
3. Focusing on Features instead of Benefits
So you built a really cool widget that is going to revolutionize the way people drive their cars. Are you going to use the short amount of time you have with your prospect to let them know that it provides double rack and pinion steering with dual mesh gears and intercooled fluid injection, or would you spend that time focusing on the fact that it is safer in the rain, hugs the curves, and provides better gas mileage?
Solution: Know the features and list them in the technical documents but focus on the benefits in your marketing and sales efforts. Answer the “what will it do for ME?” question before being asked.
4. Creating marketing & sales materials that appeal to YOU
It is important that you are fond of the marketing efforts of your company but what really matters is that it appeals to your target market. For instance, if you are a 45 year old man who owns a clothing store that targets women in their 20′s, the messaging and design may not appeal to you at all. That is a clear example but it’s a very common mistake. How many times have you decided against a particular color because you don’t like it, or because your boss doesn’t like it? Before you went in a different direction, did you consider how that color might resonate with the target market instead, or what feelings that color may evoke?
Solution: With every new business, product line, and marketing blitz know very clearly who the ideal target customer is and try to define what appeals to them. You may be surprised how much it differs from your personal opinions.
5. Not staying ahead of your marketing calendar
As a marketing manager, not much is worse than remembering that you have a tradeshow to attend or a product to launch and knowing that you are not prepared and that it’s too late to do anything about it. Tradeshow booths take at least two weeks to produce, and that doesn’t include updating the design of your graphics, sending out the “see us at our booth” cards with matching online landing page, and coming up with an overall campaign that make your booth stand out amongst the sea of competitor booths.
Solution: Spend some time looking over the entire year and month-to-month map out all of the scheduled tradeshows, launches, holiday events, sponsored seminars, or anything else that may need marketing attention. Then back out each one and create due dates for possible needs and deliverables. This will also help you project accurate budgets instead of having to borrow money from other departments or cut corners because of inaccurate projections. These are just a few common marketing mistakes we’ve seen clients make in the past and some simple solutions we recommend considering. What are some marketing mistakes you’ve made?