By Leza Raffel, President, The Communication Solutions Group
It should come as no surprise that one of the best way to attract new customers and promote new services to current customers is with a great marketing campaign. Before you jump right in, however, it’s important to remember some ground rules that will help ensure your campaign is successful.
There are many good business marketing methods, but beware: there are also countless ways to spend money without getting results. If you don’t have any marketing experience — or even if you do — remember that poor planning, poor execution and poor follow through lead to poor results.
Below are the top ten marketing mistakes and advice on what to do about them. Following these rules could help you see your way through to a successful and profitable marketing campaign.
Mistake Number One: Launching a marketing campaign when you don’t have a clear set of goals
Don’t jump into a marketing campaign without deciding what you want to say and who you want your message to reach. Doing so could be a waste of time, effort and most of all — money.
Instead, take the time to plan. Think about what you’re trying to accomplish with your campaign. Are you trying to bring in more business from current customers? Are you looking for new customers? Is your business offering new services? Do you want to drive customers to your Web site?
Having a clear set of goals will help you decide on what kind of a marketing campaign you want to launch, and the rewards of a successful campaign will more than make up for the time you spend researching and planning.
Mistake Number Two: Not taking the time to determine your unique selling point
Don’t start a marketing campaign if you don’t know what differentiates you from your competition. If you don’t know, potential customers won’t either.
Take stock of your business and decide what makes it unique. Is it the service you provide to your customers, the value of your products, the variety of your products, the number of services you offer, or something else?
Determine what makes your business unique, and use that to drive your message. It’s up to you to tell potential and current customers what makes your business unique and why they should patronize your business.
Mistake Number Three: Not identifying your target market
Not everyone can be your target market. Before you spend money on a marketing campaign directed toward the masses, identify who’s ultimately going to make the purchasing decisions.
Knowing who holds the purse strings and who determines where their company’s money is spent will help you decide how best to get your message across.
Mistake Number Four: Not having a budget in place
Without a budget, chances are you’ll spend too much money on marketing. Know how much you want to spend before beginning a marketing campaign, and stick to your budget.
The general rule of thumb says a marketing campaign should cost 1.5 % to 3 % of your revenues. That amount should be sufficient and will help you determine what kind of marketing campaign you can afford.
You may think you know what kind of marketing is right for your company, but until you know what you can afford to spend, you’re not ready to make that call.
Mistake Number Five: Putting all your eggs in one basket
Don’t spend all of your marketing money on one type of promotion. Creating an overpriced brochure or buying a single giant billboard ad is a surefire way to you’re your budget very quickly.
Instead try spreading the wealth around. In addition to making your money go further, your message is more likely to reach existing customers and potential customers when you use more than one type of marketing method.
You could easily miss valuable customers if your marketing method overlooks them, and by putting all your eggs in one basket, you’re certainly going to overlook someone.
Mistake Number Six: Trying to do it all yourself
Trying to accomplish everything on your own often leads to problems. Do-it-yourself marketing campaigns are often disjointed and unpolished.
Use professionals who can create a comprehensive package that enhances your business and gets your message across clearly and completely. It may be a bit more costly than doing it yourself, but it should pay off.
A cohesive marketing campaign done by the right professionals and aimed at the right consumers won’t eat into your time and will more than pay for itself.
Mistake Number Seven: Not doing your homework
Don’t pay top dollar when you don’t have to. Advertising prices vary and so do printing prices.
Negotiate with publications for a lower advertising rate and shop around to get the best printing prices for quality work. Just because a company charges top dollar doesn’t mean it provides top quality products.
Failing to be cost conscious in all of the marketing decisions you make is a mistake. Remember, the further you stretch your marketing dollars, the greater the opportunity you’ll have to spread your message.
Mistake Number Eight: Not pursuing PR opportunities
You’re not marketing your company if people in the local community don’t know who you are. Get involved in local community activities, donate to local scholarship funds, and join the chamber of commerce and other local business and civic organizations.
They’re good for positive public relations, and being a part of them — an active part — doesn’t cost a lot of money. The benefits of networking and referrals will far outweigh the time you spend. Other members of local organizations often own or work for businesses that might need your services. If they don’t, they often know someone who does.
Failing to volunteer your time and energy in your own community could mean missing customers right in your own backyard.
Mistake Number Nine: Not networking with potential clients or referral sources
Failing to join the trade associations and organizations your clients and potential clients belong to can be a costly mistake. Joining them will help you reach many of the people you most want to hear your message.
Explore membership opportunities and take advantage of them. But don’t join and then do nothing. Get involved. The more visible you are the better your chances of attracting new customers.
Sign up and remember, don’t be a member in name only. Take the opportunity to impress your future clients by volunteering along side them.
Mistake Number Ten: Not tracking where responses are coming from
Don’t forget to find out what’s working and use that to your advantage. If you don’t track responses to your marketing campaign, you won’t know which parts of it are successful.
No matter whether you use direct mail, advertise in special industry publications or any one of a number of other promotional sources, it pays to know what’s working. Failing to question your customers about how they heard about you or not having a tracking system on your Web site is a mistake.
The more you know about what’s working, the more you can use that to your advantage, and the next time you embark on a marketing campaign, you won’t waste your money on what didn’t work.
Follow the Rules for a Successful Marketing Campaign
Remember, a great marketing campaign can be an invaluable tool for promoting your business, but a bad one can be nothing more than a waste or your time, energy and financial resources.
Keep this list of ten mistakes handy, and refer to it each time you begin developing a marketing campaign.
Make it your goal to ensure that your future marketing efforts are mistake-free.