I’ve heard marketing described as being a bit like sex- something all of us think we’re an expert at! Now I’m not going to comment on the sex bit but I’ve studied marketing though a Diploma and MBA and worked in it for over 15 years so I know a bit about that particular subject!
I would be very wealthy indeed, probably sipping cocktails on my yacht in St Tropez, if I got a £ every time I saw or heard one of the 5 common marketing mistakes being made.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying marketing is a black art that only the chosen few can do. Although if you go online and read some of the content written about marketing you might well come to this conclusion.
What I do know is that there are some marketing basics that every business big or small needs to understand and apply for it to have any impact. And without these it will just continue to be a cost rather than an investment for growth.
So, let’s explore the 5 common marketing mistakes people make.
1. Marketing is just another word for promotion isn’t it?
When people know I work in marketing I often get them telling me about what they’re doing in their business and 9 times out of 10, it will be ad-hoc promotions and a bit of social media. Yes, it’s an important part of marketing but on its own PROMOTION ≠ MARKETING.
Marketing is about so much more and is best summarised as:
EVERYTHING we do to create and deliver a compelling offer that anticipates and meets customers’ needs and delivers VALUE for them. And as a result of all this delivers VALUE for our business too.
The bottom line for most businesses is profit and profit comes from successful sales. Now successful sales are the result of demand from customers. Demand from customers comes
from them being convinced by the value of our product or service and being prepared to pay for it. The value that we put into our product/service comes from really understanding our customer needs and developing a compelling offer that meets these (for them) better than anyone else can.
And that’s all marketing. So, we need to think of it as something which touches every part of our business and is at its heart, about customers/markets and products and how we go about connecting the two. Limiting marketing to only being about promotion, restricts its potential and ability to really help a business achieve success.
2. I don’t have time to spend creating a marketing plan that I’ll never use anyway
Often the only time a business creates a marketing plan is if we need it to attract new investment or maybe to impress a new owner or boss! Once done this plan often ends up
propping a door open or gathering dust in a drawer until the next time we need it to impress someone. The plan isn’t something ‘live’ or being used to actively work towards.
This is a bit like starting a car journey to Paris without a map or sat nav to help guide us there. We just wouldn’t do it because it would make getting there much harder and far longer than it has to be.
We also think a marketing plan is going to be time consuming and take us away from the real work of running our business. What we don’t seem to recognise is that marketing is about customers and our offer- the two things that drive revenues and profit. And what could be more important than working on a plan that’s going to give us a much better chance of growing our revenues and profit?
Creating a marketing plan does take a bit of time and research but it’s well worth the effort. A really good and well thought through plan provides focus and direction for our business and highlights where we should spend our time and money to get best results. It also reduces those seat of the pants moments as a good marketing plan is about anticipating changes and knowing what actions we need to take to deal with them.
3. I don’t need a website
It’s hard to imagine in this day and age any business thinking it doesn’t need a website but it does still happen and there’s articles online telling us that it isn’t important and we just need our social media accounts.
Yes we can create an online presence through social media and sell through sites like Etsy, Ebay or a Facebook business page depending on our business. But it’s important to remember that we don’t own our social media, the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram etc who own the sites do. They can change their business model, who uses their sites and who sees our content whenever they want and there’s nothing we can do about it. So, it always makes sense to have our own face to market that we control the content and direction for.
Most of us start any search for a new product or service (for our business or personally) online via a Google search or by accessing potential providers’ websites directly. We often want to have a look around and check out online whether a business ticks all our boxes before we make contact or connect with them.
Our website is like a shop window to the world, one that’s open 24/7 for customers to browse, find out more and possibly even buy from us there and then. If we don’t have a website then we’re making life more difficult for potential customers and we run the risk they’ll turn to someone else (that blasted competitor who does have one!) instead.
If you need help getting started with a website or want to check the one you have is optimised then click here for my free website checklist. This will give you the lowdown on what to include and how to optimise your site and get more traffic.
4. The cheaper my price the more likely I am to sell
I met a client not long ago who was setting up a book keeping service and believed his customers would only want to work with him if he was the cheapest. As a result, he planned to offer an hourly rate that barely covered minimum wage, for something quite specialised that requires a qualification to do.
Unless we genuinely have the lowest cost base, competing on price is not a sustainable strategy, just one that will wipe us out financially. There will always be someone who’s prepared to do it a bit cheaper than us. That’s just life!
I also feel it’s a big mistake to think customers are only interested in price and indeed most of us are suspicious of very low prices, believing the product to be inferior in some way and not really valuing it. It’s far better and more valuable to sell the benefits of our offer and the solution it provides to a customer’s problem, need or desire. Why else would anyone buy ice cubes from a supermarket at £1 a go when we can make our own at home for free?
5. Marketing’s all about social media and the more platforms I’m on the better
As I’ve said previously, marketing is about so much more than just promotions and this applies to social media. It goes to the very heart of customers and our offer and is way more than just being about how we engage with them. Social media is best considered as another powerful weapon in our promotions bag, one that opens the door from one way communications with us pushing our message out to two way, genuine engagement.
Whilst social media feels relatively new and shiny, it’s easy to be dazzled by it and to feel we’ll get left behind if we don’t fully embrace it. I’ve heard FOMO (fear of missing out) mentioned about 10 times this summer in various different contexts. It’s definitely something we can apply to social media both in terms of the platforms we are and aren’t on and what we’re doing when jump on them. Everyone seems be talking about Facebook Live in 2017 and none of us want to miss out by not using it! Am I right?
Social media can be amazing for connecting with potential customers and building relationships through two-way engagement but we need to remember it’s only one of a number of promotions platforms out there that can work for us. Real life interaction with existing customers and potential ones can be really valuable too.
It’s also easy to get carried away and feel we need to be active on multiple platforms. The rule of thumb for something like Twitter or Facebook is that we need to be posting or commenting about 6-8 times per day to stand out and have any impact. That’s an awful lot of time and content we’ll have to find or create particularly if we multiply that across several platforms. Yes, we can use much of the same content but each platform has its own peculiarities and what works on Twitter e.g. lots of hashtags doesn’t on Linked In for example so it will still need some tailoring.
And I’ll tell you what’s worse than not being on a particular social media platform- having a feed that isn’t regularly updated. We just end up becoming irrelevant.
There’s also a very real risk of suffering burn out from trying to do too much on social media. Unless we’re a social media specialist and therefore it’s part of our job, I just wonder how on earth anyone manages to be on more than 2-3 platforms at most and still finds time to do their day job!
The best approach is to always think about being where our customers are. So, if they’re active on Twitter be there and be active too but if they’re not find a different channel that works for them- for example attending farmer’s markets if we’re a small food producer.
Leave me a comment and let me know if you recognise or agree with these marketing mistakes. What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear from you.
I’m on a mission to demystify marketing and share the building blocks that every small business can apply and get benefit from. I share weekly marketing and business tips via Facebook Live on Tuesdays. You can join me there or access the content and resources I share here.