Lately, I’ve been noticing an interesting internal marketing trend. Sometimes business leaders read or hear about a new marketing tactic or media vehicle, then task their head of marketing to execute it. Don’t get me wrong, I like changing things up and encouraging new ideas, but oftentimes it’s an answer to a question that hasn’t been asked.
The real question is, Why isn’t marketing delivering the results we expected, and what can we do about it?
Let’s start by accepting that every market is different, as well as marketing value propositions, competitive environments, market potential, reputation, etc. This is important because so many business owners have a tendency to duplicate what similar companies are doing in different markets. That might be your first mistake, but there are many others.
1] Lack of understanding your target: A common marketing mistake is trying to be all things to all people. Remember: Less is more. Don’t assume you know your target clients or rely on anecdotal information. You probably have a very targeted client niche. If you don’t know your target, start with the assumption that your past clients are the best indicator of who your future clients are going to be. Then dig deeper into customer segmentation tools that allow you to determine your target demographics, psychographics, and even behavioral tendencies. Once you have this data, you can align your marketing tactics with your target’s behavioral tendencies.
2] The wrong message: The days of self-serving marketing messages outlining your features and benefits are long gone. Today’s consumers are smarter and more resourceful and well-educated. Stop co-mingling sales messages with your marketing. Keep marketing messages pure and highlight your one differentiating value proposition (not features). It’s maddening to see businesses bombard consumers with features and benefits, hoping that something sticks. Simply answer why they should do business with you and only give them one indisputable reason.
3] Right message on the wrong channel: Sometimes businesses invest heavily in identifying their core differentiator and value propositions only to place them in the wrong marketing media channels. Again, don’t follow what other companies are doing. Understand where your target clients are digging deep into researching your products or services. It probably isn’t your website or in their mailbox. They may be looking for trends, reviews, or even reading the opinions of industry experts. Make sure you’re on these channels.
4] You aren’t telling stories: Consumers no longer believe marketers or their self-serving messages. Let your work speak for itself by highlighting why your clients retained you. Use case studies and testimonials, be transparent and show numbers (metrics or dollars). Most importantly, highlight the emotional transformations your company has made and tell the story from the client’s perspective, not yours.
5] Not enough third-party validation: Many companies don’t offer validation for their products or services. Don’t assume that your target client is going to believe everything you say. Serious buyers will do their due diligence to see what others say about your company and what they’ve experienced. Seek a high number of reviews and in-depth comments. Remember that consumers don’t expect you to be perfect. The most powerful reviews are honest and transparent where bad experiences occurred, but your company handled them like a pro and made it right.
Stopping Tactics too Soon
Sometimes you have the right message in the right channel and it just hasn’t reached its tipping point. I’ve spoken to many business owners who say, “We tried that before and it didn’t work.” When probing deeper, I soon discover that the tactic was executed in a very short period of time. Marketing takes time, along with consistency of message and frequency. Press through your pain spot and you will see results.
Lack of Strategy
Just because another business in another market is executing a tactic doesn’t mean you should, too. You need to have a strategy in place and then build and execute tactics under each strategy. As consumers, we are bombarded with messages daily—print ads, banners, emails, broadcast spots, billboards, product placement, etc. Unless you are in the market for a specific item, our brains just discount them. Your marketing needs to be memorable and be supported with strong value propositions. So when your target consumer is in the consideration stage, your company can be included in the conversation.