Marketing is one of the most important aspects of any business. If you don’t market your brand, you don’t make money and the business fails. So, not to seem too self-centered, marketing is critical, and too many businesses are guilty of these common marketing mistakes that cost them money, potentially damage their reputation, and lead to failure.
One of the biggest marketing mistakes is thinking about marketing in terms of tools, tactics, and strategies, rather than in terms of goals then strategies for reaching your goals. I love this Whiteboard Friday graphic from Moz that outlines these common marketing mistakes.
I once sat in on a client pitch meeting where ad agency execs were spitballing strategies to sell a new client. One of the less experienced agents started by suggesting actors to feature in the commercial. This demonstrates why this is one of the common marketing mistakes I see all the time.
What is marketing?
Before we can discuss the common marketing mistakes businesses make, we first need to understand what marketing is and what it isn’t. In fact, the very definition (and using a definition that’s too restrictive) is one of the most common marketing mistakes I see. You see, the definition of marketing varies for some folks. Some think marketing involves only advertising and sales. However, the truth is that marketing is a whole lot more than that. Sure, marketing involves advertising and sales, but it also involves producing a superior product that solves a prevalent consumer problem, pricing the product to provide value to buyers, and distributing the product so it’s available at the right place at the right time.
So, yes writing a blog post or appearing on a TV show (commonly called product placement) is considered marketing but you can’t stop there.
In today’s post, we’ll share some of the most common marketing mistakes businesses keep making that costs them time, money, and, ultimately, their business.
Common marketing mistakes
Not spending enough on marketing
Again, we’re not talking here about just advertising and sales. We’re talking about everything from product development and USP (unique selling proposition), value creation, market research, branding, and analytics. Here’s what the average business spends (or should spend) on advertising depending on the type of business and their overall budget.
Only spending on traditional media
Especially in B2B and less exciting product categories, marketers think they should only invest in traditional media, like TV, radio, and print. Yet, as you can see below, digital media is really taking over from traditional media. A few years ago, several big-name advertisers, like Pepsi, decided to forgo expensive Super Bowl ads in favor of digital strategies.
The lack of proper research
Research is one of the biggest contributors to marketing success. Knowing your customers, understanding their preferences, and learning about their needs help propel your business to the next level. However, one of the common marketing mistakes involves running your marketing efforts by the seat of your pants, rather than doing research. Or, marketers don’t understand how to carry out research even with assistance from a digital marketing agency.
If you don’t have the technology or time to perform market research, then hiring a specialist is usually the next best choice. This ensures that you can learn more about your ideal audience while still giving you time to focus on the more important things in your business. But, a common marketing mistake is to think the agency knows everything about your brand and can do research without your input. After all, that’s what cost Coca-cola in their marketing efforts resulting in New Coke, which was a dismal failure. By focusing on a feature unimportant to most of their market, sweetness, they failed to understand what motivated Coke drinkers to buy their brand.
Nothing unique to showcase to your audience
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of marketing is showing your market how you’re different from the competition. A USP, or unique selling proposition, clearly shows how your product differs from your competition in ways that create value to consumers. Unless you’re the very first company to offer a certain type of product, there’s a very good chance that you just won’t matter to people unless you offer something unique. You need to show them a unique selling proposition of your brand and let them know why they should buy from you instead of your competitors. This can be harder than you think and it goes back to the design of your products and services, not just your advertising message. If you don’t get this right the first time or have nothing to show them, then they’re not going to care about your brand.
Targeting too many platforms at once
One of the most common marketing mistakes I see is marketers trying to do too much or not giving their strategy enough time to show what it can deliver.
One of the most important marketing basics that marketers and their managers tend to forget is that you shouldn’t target more platforms than you can effectively handle. If you’re trying to do content marketing, social media, television, radio, local, and print all at once, then you might end up spreading your resources too thin unless you have vast bandwidth. The only brands that can do this are the well-established ones with massive marketing budgets.
Content marketing takes time and you can’t just slap something together without careful research and consideration. One of the most common marketing mistakes is thinking you can just post something occasionally. Instead, you need a focused strategy for delivering high-value (to your audience) content on a consistent basis. Check out the graphic below to see the impact of consistency on sales.
If you’re just starting out, the best solution is to start slow and focus on the high-impact platforms where your target market hangs out. After that, you can start branching out to other platforms that can offer similar gains.
Similarly, don’t jump from platform to platform expecting immediate results. Often, marketing efforts take six months or more to show how they might impact your conversion and revenue. Give strategies some time and only move to a different strategy once you decide you gave it enough time.
Failing to measure
This is probably the biggest of the common marketing mistakes I see. Too often, marketers don’t spend enough time with their metrics, don’t understand which metrics impact results and which are vanity metrics, or can’t develop insights from their marketing efforts. I think much of this failure comes from marketers trained in another time when the emphasis was on creative rather than analytical skills.
Despite all the mistakes that companies make with marketing, it’s not difficult to fix those problems and get back on the right track. We’d suggest working with marketing experts to help you, but if you’re on a very tight budget then it can be helpful to look up resources and just analyze the market to see what marketing strategies are popular and impactful.
If you have questions or suggestions for future posts, I welcome your comments below.
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