Marketing remains a critical, yet confusing, focus area for many small business owners. If you have any desire to grow, marketing can make or break your plans. Even if you only want to maintain your business at a comfortable size, marketing helps reduce the risk of shrinking if you lose current customers.
Like business itself, marketing is a subject that needs to be mastered. You don’t have to be a marketing guru, but you need to know enough to make informed decisions if you out-source some of your marketing or even if its being done internally by other members of your team.
Here are four common mistakes that businesses (large and small) make when marketing. Consider the mistakes and remedies when you’re putting together your campaigns and you’ll make much better use of your time and money and see better returns as a result.
Trying to be all things to everybody. When we market it’s tempting to reach as broad an audience as possible, after all, the purpose of marketing is to create customers. It also costs us resources to market…time and money especially. It makes sense that we would want to reach as many people as possible and write our messages such that they resonate with the majority.
Unfortunately, this will actually turn most people away as it will end up sounding generic and not specific to their situation. When you craft your marketing, try to write your message to a single person that represents about 20% of the market that you can readily identify. This requires a bit of research to know your customer segments, but will result in much better response to your campaigns.
Assuming prospects will act rationally. When I was in business school at Duke, Dan Ariely published his book “Predictably Irrational.” Dan asserts convincingly that many of our decisions aren’t made rationally, but are driven by intuition or emotion. When we craft our marketing campaigns, it’s tempting to make a clear case for our product in order to capture prospects.
But people make many of their decisions in ways that are hard for us to understand rationally. Many decisions, especially purchasing decisions, are made based upon emotions. Not only are emotions critical in the decision-making process, we aren’t even aware of it in most cases. Make sure your marketing is personal, involves emotions, benefits, etc. so that it appeals to the true holder of purchasing power. Most importantly, make sure your language focuses on them.
Talking about you or your product’s features. It’s tempting to talk about ourselves in marketing. How we will help, how we developed our product, etc. When we’re done talking about ourselves, we usually shift to talking about the features of our offering. And why not? Our offering took great expertise, ingenuity, experience, etc. to create and we’re proud of it.
Alas, prospects want to hear about how products or services will help them. They want to understand what problems will be solved, how they can do something important better, faster or cheaper, what jobs will be facilitated, etc. Make your message speak to these areas.
Not following your plan. If you take the time to craft a marketing plan that incorporates the above elements, has metrics, a budget, a timeline, etc. then follow the plan. It is a common mistake to expect quick results and to reduce budgets or cancel campaigns when the results aren’t forthcoming immediately.
Don’t abandon you plan before you’ve had time to assess its effectiveness. Prospects don’t typically act immediately or even quickly; they usually require a number of exposures to your product or service before deciding to become a customer. You made a plan, follow it and then evaluate it when its run its course.
When you’re putting together your marketing efforts, use this list of common errors to check your efforts. If you see yourself falling into any of these traps, make the necessary changes. Changing in the planning stages is inexpensive, don’t wait until the money has been spent and the results are disappointing before altering your campaign.