Let’s face it, these days, more and more business owners are shifting from using marketing professionals to promote their businesses and choosing to take a more hands-on role. This is mistake number one, but we’ll get to that a little later. For now, let’s think about how or why you got into the career you’re in. Maybe it’s because you loved it….maybe because you are especially good at it….maybe it’s just a way to make ends meet. Whatever the case, you have the job you have because, at some level, you like it or possess the skills to excel at it. The same is true for marketing personnel; be it graphic designers or advertising executives. We marketing professionals have a specific knowledge about what works in the market place, what designs and words provoke a response from the reader and what outlets are the most effective in seeing a return on your investment: this is why you need us. I have collected five of some of the most common marketing mistakes people make.
1. “I can do this myself”. Perhaps you can (and even have some success), but if you run a successful coffee shop, please stick to making coffee (we designers need your delicious coffee in the worst way!). While some of your ideas and marketing strategies may actually bring in some new customers, how many hours and dollars have you spent to do so? A marketing professional can work for you while you focus your attention on your own business. We can also make sure you are not spending all that hard earned money on something virtually ineffective. This mistake is a big one because if you make this mistake, you are very likely to make the mistakes listed below…these are big no-nos in marketing. In fact, they are often the opposite of effective marketing.
2. “I have to tell everybody everything”. While all the services you perform or all of the products you sell may be seriously top-notch, someone is only going to take advantage of them if they are interested in the first place. This is probably the most common and annoying mistake in marketing: TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Small business have small budgets for the most part and seem to not be able to resist the urge to use their marketing dollars to tell everyone everything about their business. It’s the usual: ‘I’m spending a good deal of money on a full page ad in the newspaper and since it will only run one day, I need to appeal to every reader”. Do you really? Or would it better to place that full page ad in a specific magazine, with a longer shelf life, that your target audience is most likely to read, and promote one item and sell the heck out of it?
3. “Creative advertising adds shock value and will make us memorable”. This one can be 100% true, if it’s done correctly, but more often than not, the arrow misses the mark and the result is either just confusing and ineffective or (worse) it’s offensive. Groupon’s Super Bowl ads are a really good example of the latter, proving that even marketing professionals can get it wrong sometimes. If you want to be clever, fine. But try the idea out in your store first and see how your customers react. When in doubt, hire someone who knows the market, the area (something that works in San Fransisco might not work in Middle America) and how to create something clever that will not (1.) waste your money and generate little interest and (2.) will not offend the entire readership. The second part of this mistake is the ever-infuriating: ‘let’s be deliberately vague to force the reader to our website”. NO. To the consumer, this is wasting their time….no one (and I mean NO ONE) likes for someone to waste their time. You won’t be seeing any of that green if you tick them off before they’ve even given your product a chance.
4. “I have to send updates, tweets and e-blasts as much as possible”. Please, if you do this, stop. In a previous blog post on email and social etiquette, I addressed these mistakes in detail but I will add here that, as Americans, we are bombarded 24 hours a day with advertisements. Someone recently told me that on average, we see over 3500 different ads on any given day. The idea that “well if everyone else is out there all the time, I need to be too to stay in the game” is just plain wrong and goes against the basic principals of effective marketing. I’ll put it this way: when I first moved to my new house, I was constantly annoyed by the planes that flew over head every twenty minutes. Now, I don’t even notice them. This is called acclimation and desensitization. When you send constant FB updates, tweets, mass emails, texts and other messages to your customer, that message just became the plane. I can tell you, I have not opened a single mass email in four years. I see ‘em in my inbox and simply hit ‘delete’ and, as a rule, if a person or business posts updates more the three times a day on social networking sites, I hide them, without exception, period.
5. “If I offer discounts or coupons, I can get and keep more customers”. Nope. What you are inadvertently telling your customer is that you don’t believe that your service or product is worth the price on the tag. What happens next is you perform a service (or sell a product) for less than it’s worth and that customer does not return again until they can get it for the same price as before. These are not customers you want. If you are trying a out a new advertising outlet, it is occasionally a good idea to offer a SMALL discount or incentive for mentioning that particular ad. This method allows you to track the success of that ad and get people through the door but (and this is a big but) make sure that the discount is not a deep discount (something more like 10% off any second product purchased) or that the incentive is a freebie that does not cost you (like a sample tube of facial cleanser you get from your sales rep). Also be sure to include an expiration date or you run the risk of having to honor that promotion until the end of time. (OK, I embellished a little there: but definitely include an expiration date).
So in conclusion, don’t do what everyone else is doing cause those everyone else’s aren’t looking to a professional for advice and more frequently, are trying to do it themselves by utilizing the cheap and easy route. Let’s face it, to them it’s cheaper to come up with their own ad concept than to pay someone else to do it but that idea lends truth to the quote by Red Adair: “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur”. The normal, everyday person does not have the training, experience or knowledge about effective marketing. They end up spending unnecessary time and money on the things that are obvious, misguided and potentially inefficient. Efforts that are so obvious, that they blend in with the other do-it-yourself advertising and marketing strategies out there. The moral of the story is this: don’t do what everyone else does and instead, let a professional guide and help you, that’s what all of our training and experience is for. We make a living by making your business successful, utilize our expertise.