Over the last 20 or so years, I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside (and within) various organisations of different sizes and with different products / services. This has given me the opportunity to see first hand what works for most businesses – and equally, what doesn’t!
Here’s my view on some of the common mistakes made by companies of all sizes (not in any order, I’ve just written them as they’ve come in to my mind):
1. No depth of understanding about the market
Not everyone was created equal. And alongside that sits that fact that not everyone within your potential market will have the same needs and desires.
However, understanding that helps you target the relevant people with your offering. Us marketing folk refer to that as ‘segmenting’ the audience. You may have hundreds of segments, or else you may break your audience down very simply into a handful of segments.
Segmentation provides you with ‘like’ customers (or potential customers) – at its simplest level, they are alike due to socio demographics. The best marketing organisations take segmentation a step further however and break down audiences based on their individual needs. Just think how targeted your campaigns could be if you could segment down like that?
2. Weak knowledge of your customers
Suffice it to say that there will be some people who will never want to buy your product – ever – no matter how great the offer. However, the better you understand both your existing customers and potential customers, the better your campaigns and the more appropriate the message. Your campaign will be much more powerful when you can tailor the message at an emotional level.
3. Lack of marketing planning
I am often astonished at how many businesses I come across who are undertaking some marketing activity – spending money – with no plan in place.
If you don’t know where you are now, not sure where you want to be and have no idea how to get there anyway, how on earth can you spend money effectively on marketing campaigns?
It is crucial that a clear and measurable plan is put in place before any marketing, promotional or advertising campaigns are started. And remember, in everything you do, measure, monitor and improve… all the time.
4. Taking the scatter-gun approach
To be really effective, marketing campaigns should be joined-up. This helps you control your costs, give a co-ordinated message and keep it simple for your customers to clearly understand your brand – what you stand for, what you’re offering and what it means to them.
Many companies spend little but often, thinking that it’s best to be ‘seen’ to be everywhere, or taking up ‘last minute’ advertising opportunities. These can seem like good value at the time, but doesn’t present a consistent message. Think about the big picture rather than responding to adhoc opportunities.
5. Lack of consistency
It is very unlikely that you’ll get a sale from one email, one piece of direct mail or one advert. Strategic promotional campaign planning is the key. Remember, your customers receive hundreds of messages every day, so you need clear and consistent messages so they understand you and your proposition. That way, when they’re in the market for something you sell, your name is more likely to be on their shopping list.
6. Reductions in price as a knee-jerk reaction
In the current market, cutting prices is a popular tactic. But it’s not always the answer. Sell on your strengths, add value and look after your customers.
Decreasing your prices and entering pricing wars with the competition only benefits one person – the customer. It leads to a downwards spiral and lack of customer loyalty.
Easy to say, harder to implement in the tough times, but if you can stick with this principle, it will mean a better bottom line for your business.
7. Forgetting about your staff
Remember, the strongest marketing tool you have is your team. Keep them motivated and informed, and they will do the job (or at least part of it) for you. Invest in training, incentives and ensure your workplace is a desirable one and you will reap the benefits.