10 Ways to Derail Your Marketing

by Loraine Kasprzak, MBA

$50,000 balloons and techies who can’t write are just two of the ways small business owners mess up their marketing, waste their money and then don’t achieve their business growth targets.
Here’s my top ten list of marketing mistakes business owners make:

10. Trying to do everything yourself
As a business owner you wear many hats, especially when you’re starting a new company.  But if you’re the one setting up the email campaign or fixing your website’s shopping cart, you are not out in front of prospective customers or partners, or developing your business strategy.
Know your own strengths and weaknesses, and hire the experts you need to support your business.

9.  Wasting money on ineffective tactics
A former client of mine was spending $50,000 – 50% of his marketing budget – on launching a custom-designed balloon at the state’s balloon festival each year. How many leads did it generate? Zero. How many customers took balloon rides? Maybe a couple of the company’s smaller clients.  Worth it? I think not.

Think through how your company’s marketing budget is being spent, and re-allocate funds to what will get your company known, liked and trusted by your target customers.

8. Relying on one tactic
Sure, your website is an important part of your marketing strategy, but don’t focus on it exclusively. You need a mix of tactics to offer multiple touch points for prospects and customers. Tradeshows, blogs, whitepapers, e-newsletters, webinars, search engine optimization, and networking events – these should be in your marketing arsenal.

7. Not tracking what your competitors are doing
Has something like this happened to you? You’ve invested in a booth at a major tradeshow. Then you learn that not only is your biggest competitor exhibiting in space twice the size of yours, they’re launching a brand new widget that’s getting tons of buzz. Guess which booth winds up getting all the foot traffic?

Pay attention to what your competitors are doing. Talk to your sales people about what they’re seeing. Sign up for Google Alerts to monitor your competition automatically.

6. Offering inconsistent messaging
Are you articulating a clear value proposition? Are you doing so across all your customer touch points? Presenting unclear or conflicting messaging can dilute your brand and confuse prospects and customers.

5. Not measuring results and modifying your approach
Too often I hear from business owners, “We tried that before and it didn’t work!” What specifically didn’t work? Why? What did work? How can you change what you did to make it more effective? These are the questions you must ask after every marketing campaign. Then adapt your marketing based on the lessons you’ve learned.

4. Publishing poorly written content
As I noted in this post, content rules. It’s content that drives conversations and connects your company with its prospects and customers. When your content is poorly written, people will notice. One business owner invested in a white paper marketing campaign and then got a blistering email from an executive. The paper, wrote the exec, was not worth the time it took to download. It was little better than an overview and didn’t delve deep enough into the issues.

Ouch. Write good content. And if you can’t, hire someone who can.

3. Not executing consistently
Are you publishing your blog routinely? What about your email newsletter? Are you getting to your networking meetings each month? Do your sales reps follow up on leads? Frequent, regular contact builds relationships and sets you apart from the rest of the herd.

2. Letting the wrong people execute
Do you let your barber or hair dresser do your taxes? Probably not, unless you love IRS audits. Similarly, you shouldn’t let your finance or IT guys run your marketing.

You need to have the “right people on the bus” – to quote Jim Collins – to run your company’s marketing. Bring on board people with the right marketing skills, experience and expertise who can strategize and execute effectively.

1. Not setting and communicating goals
As life coach Tony Robbins said, “Setting goals is the first step to turning the invisible into the visible.” So first things first: work with your team to set specific, manageable goals for your company’s marketing. These goals should be linked to your company’s business strategy. With clear goals established, everything else will begin to fall into place. You will be in a position to make better decisions and can more easily choose the right mix of tactics for effective marketing campaigns.

How else can marketing get derailed? Tell us what you think by posting a Comment below.

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Photo credit: Leo Reynolds, Flickr.com, http://flic.kr/p/epWKb

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