One thing I always tell our new marketing clients is that a good strategy is vital for success. Whether you are selling products or services to consumers or businesses, without a plan you will fail. It is easy to fall into an ineffective marketing spiral and to make mistakes that could have been avoided from the beginning.
As you start planning and thinking about what lies ahead for your business, keep these tips in mind so that you can start off on the right foot for 2013:
Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid in Marketing Your Business
1. Lack of a formal marketing strategy –
This is the number one most common mistake made by anyone in business or starting a business. The failure to devise a formal marketing plan for the entire year can leave you disorganized and scrambling to launch poorly executed campaigns to boost sales when you see your revenues dropping. However, in the current and ever-shifting business landscape, a comprehensive (but flexible) marketing strategy is a must for success. It is more likely that you will waste your time and resources on non-essential campaigns that do not produce the return on investment (ROI) you had hoped for.
2. Incorrect information about your target audience –
Many times businesses think they know their customer profile well and focus all efforts on reaching them “their” way. But many companies are so involved in their day-to-day operations, they really don’t know how to reach their customers. Our best advice is to have a professional marketing company validate and review your target profile. Once you have outside professionals looking in, you may be surprised how people really see your company or products. The quality of your data and your defined target market are imperative for your marketing strategy to be successful.
3. Not paying attention to your existing clients –
For a strong and effective marketing strategy, you must avoid ignoring the clients you already have. Pay attention to your existing clients and continue to serve them by offering them additional products and services. Your existing clients can also be a great source of referrals from word-of-mouth promotion and positive testimonials. If you leave them feeling neglected, however, their feelings toward your company can quickly turn sour or they could completely forget about you and go somewhere else. Caution: although word-of-mouth marketing is extremely effective, never allow your sales efforts to solely rely on people who you have no control over! It is more cost effective to keep your existing, loyal clients happy than to keep acquiring new ones.
4. Blunders in social media marketing –
As social networking websites continue to grow, many companies are attempting social media marketing to try to keep up with current trends and even find some new customers “for free.” What they are finding, however, is that most of their efforts are not producing any substantial results. Just because you can post what you ate last night on Facebook doesn’t make you a social marketing expert. Your business’s various online profiles need to be kept up-to-date and relevant to show your followers that you are there to stay and that they can rely on your company when they need a product or service like yours. Almost more than any other marketing channel, you need a focused plan from an experienced professional who understands your target market, personalities, relationships, goals and business culture – something that an intern or fresh graduate cannot effectively do. As we say in our office: Interns make coffee, not social marketing strategies.
5. Poor management of your leads –
If you are doing any lead generation at all, it is extremely important to make sure that you follow up with the leads in a timely manner and on a regular basis. Taking too long to make your initial contact with a lead is a sure-fire way to have them to lose interest and move on to another company for their needs. After you do make initial contact, continue to maintain contact in order to establish relationships. As one friend of mine mentioned recently, our social capital is extremely valuable. Who we know and how we foster those relationships can ultimately keep us in business or lead to our downfall. A great way to manage your leads is with a CRM; a Customer Relationship Management system which is a database of your clients, their contact information, and a host of tools to help you stay organized.
Build a relationship and instill trust first, then ask for the sale. My staff and I are drinking coffee like crazy and ramping up for an amazing 2013. Please don’t wait until the last minute to start planning for a successful next year.
Grif Blackstone is the president of Blackstone Media Group, a full scale web design and marketing company and publisher of the Good News, the largest Christian newspaper in Florida. Grif has helped hundreds of businesses build an effective brand identity to help them communicate who they are to their target market. Writer, speaker, and consultant, Grif is known as the “Efficiency Guru” for technology and business and is a coffee fanatic.