While developing a marketing strategy is not an exact science, I often see the same mistakes made over and over when working with clients. Chasing the bright and shiny object is always a temptation, but worse yet, is the tendency for business owners to jump in without first defining a clear objective.
Here are five of the most critical mistakes I come across, and how you can avoid them when building a marketing strategy.
Business owners and entrepreneurs (solo and group) often focus too much on tactics, and not enough on strategy. I often hear, “We want a new website!” and when I ask why, they aren’t sure. They just know they need it. Instinctually, they know their website is ineffective, but they don’t really understand how a better website should translate into an effective marketing strategy that helps them meet their business objectives.
So, rather than focusing on a specific tactic such as a new website, SEO or social media, focus on developing a strategy that meets your goals, and then determine which tactics will be needed to make achieving those goals possible.
Focusing too much on tactics and not enough on strategy usually means there has been a failure to establish goals and objectives. Do you want a new website to make yourself feel better about your brand, or do you want a new website that caters to the wants and needs of your customers? Do you want an Instagram feed that looks pretty OR that looks pretty, is branded to your business, AND develops relationships. Hopefully it’s the latter in both cases, but it’s not uncommon for clients to just want it because it’s “the thing”, and that is a huge mistake.
How often have you selected marketing collateral that you liked but maybe failed to take into account whether or not your customers would like it? Before thinking about your strategy and the various tactics needed to execute it, determine the goals you want to achieve. These goals might include boosting your brand awareness, streamlining your online presence, increase social leads and web traffic, and to garner loyalty and preference for your services… to name a few.
Typically, when goals aren’t established, neither are key performance indicators (KPIs). Failing to define and track the proper KPIs prior to deploying your marketing strategy can make it difficult, if not impossible, to verify whether or not the strategy is successful.
If your goal is to increase brand awareness, the KPIs you track may include increased website visits, click-throughs, or social media engagement. If lead generation is a goal, the KPIs you track may include contact form leads and phone calls from your website or event page. If online purchases or in-store traffic is a goal, the KPI you should track is (no surprise here) sales.
Defining your target audience is great, but developing customer personas is even better. The reason for this is that it’s much easier to create a strategy and message that resonates with a persona than a broad target audience.
For example, a health foods company targets moms with college degrees who are health conscious, but they create a strategy for Molly, who is 36, married with two children, has a Master’s Degree, earns six figures, loves to run and only buys organic food for her family.
As a business owner or marketing executive, I would be much more confident targeting the Mollys of the world with a message that our foods are healthy for both her and her family. And although they’re organic and cost more than non-organic foods, she can rest easy knowing that what she (and her family) put in their bodies is good for them. And you can’t put a price on that. I think you get the picture.
All of your competitors are targeting bottom-of-funnel prospects (prospects who are ready to make a purchase decision), but they are not all targeting top-of-funnel prospects (prospects who are in the research phase of their buying process). This presents a great opportunity for you to capture prospects early in the sales cycle, and at a lower cost as a result of reduced competition.
One of the most effective ways to acquire top-of-funnel prospects is by providing them with answers to their questions. This introduces them to your brand, product/service and also builds loyalty because you’re providing them with perceived value by answering their questions and giving them the information they want.
A first-time homebuyer will have many questions pertaining to the home-buying process. Questions they have (and search on Google) may include, “How do I apply for a mortgage?” “How much are closing costs?” or “How much money should I put down?” A homebuilder or Realtor that targets first-time homebuyers would be able to capture this prospect by promoting content through their website, blog, and social media that answers these questions.
Avoid these mistakes when developing your marketing plan by focusing on strategy first, identifying your goals, establishing the proper KPIs, targeting customer personas and going after top-of-funnel prospects. If you do these things, you’ll have a solid and successful marketing plan.