I’ve seen some of the same mistakes made over and over again in almost 20 years. As CMO of a leading marketing agency in Aberdeen I’ve been involved in hundreds of campaigns and worked with many clients across a diverse portfolio of industries.
And I’m not naive: I had to learn some of these lessons the hard way.
These blunders aren’t confined to tiny businesses; the big boys are also culpable.
Here are some mistakes to avoid, in no particular order, that I hope will save you money while also increasing your profits:
Scattershot messaging – Does the content on your company’s website match your elevator pitch, ad campaigns, and collateral? You’re squandering crucial opportunities to make your message memorable if you have six different versions of the same corporate descriptor floating around.
Amateur design – Sometimes what seems to be a simple design is actually done with great care by a true professional. Simple does not imply low-cost. Would you wear a shabby suit if you were going to be interviewed on Good Morning America? I don’t believe so.
Trying to sell to everyone — Contrary to popular opinion, your target market is not everyone. You supply a specific form of value to a specific type of individual. Pursue that individual. Dolce and Gabbana do not aim to sell gowns to everyone who wants to purchase a dress, and Tiffany does not try to sell jewels to everyone who wants to buy jewelry. Hyundai does not attempt to sell to everyone who needs a vehicle.
Focusing on quantity vs. quality — It’s fine to spend money on a 5,000-person event if those 5,000 people will ever buy from you. When possible, micro-target your marketing to generate fewer leads but higher conversions.
Conflict between advertising and public relations – Advertising is something you pay for, and everyone is aware of it. It’s skewed. Third parties, such as the media, analysts, and critics, write or speak about you – or want you to write or speak about them. If you do them well (in terms of both money and time), neither comes cheap, but be sure you know what you’re getting into.
Confusion between awareness and direct response marketing – Awareness is a stage that all customers must go through before purchasing from you – after all, they must know you exist, right? However, you can invest in awareness efforts without immediately receiving a straight, qualified lead. The funnel that awareness develops produces qualified leads. Events, PR, and other forms of public awareness may not always result in immediate sales. These things happen as you cultivate those folks over time.
Ignoring the noise – It’s not enough to run a single ad, sponsor a single event, or send a single email and expect a reaction. There’s too much competition for attention in the marketplace, and while your mother may believe you’re important, your potential customers may not! After six months, you may be weary of your brand and message, but others haven’t had time to process it.
Playing Me-Too — If you base all of your marketing decisions on what your competitors are doing, you’re only making things more difficult for yourself. When there are a lot of people that look alike, zigging when they zig is a good method to stand out. Can you say something different if they all use the same language to explain what they do, for example?
Investing in one-off strategies vs. multi-touch, multi-media campaigns — An integrated campaign is a multi-touch, multi-media undertaking. It’s also more powerful. See what else you can get for your money when you’re negotiating (ie, an online ad, a webcast sponsorship, a special emailing, the chance to write a contributed article, etc.) Rather than reinventing the wheel each time, focus your efforts on important themes.
Failure to communicate your mission, values, and objectives – You’re floating in the wind if you don’t have documented clarity. Ground yourself by stating clearly what your company stands for (and does not) and what you hope to achieve. It’s not enough to just “know” something; you have to write it down, share it, post it, and own it. These can assist you in developing a clear brand strategy that will simplify your marketing – and business – decisions.