The BizFilings blog covering business tips and trends.
The Most Common Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Published on Jul 23, 2012
Read 'The Most Common Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
By Adam Toren
Overall, marketing may look pretty easy, and it is a lot easier than accounting. At least, it’s easier to be a mediocre marketing expert than a mediocre accounting expert. One may not bring in the customers, but the other can bring you to the attention of the IRS!
Still, don’t be fooled. Good marketing is challenging, and it’s easier than you might think to mess it up. Here are some examples of what not to do.
Who do you ask? A manager of a growing regional computer company brought in a consultant to create a customer service program. He explained proudly that he had surveyed his sales team, his help specialists and technical support on what their customers wanted. He had put together a spreadsheet with weighted averages on a total of 36 issues. The consultant asked the one question that she knew would keep her from getting the job, but it had to be asked, “Did you ask your customers what they want?” When it comes to customer satisfaction, the only experts are your customers. Ignore them at your business’s peril.
All over the place: It takes up to 40 exposures to ensure that someone will recognize and feel familiar with a brand or product. If your ads, your website, your brochures and your store all have a different look, you’re starting over every time. Branding consistency is critical in marketing. Even if the image isn’t perfect, repetition is good for you.
Unhappy employees: When your employees aren’t happy, they’re not going to make your customers happy. Do you treat your employees badly, underpay them, or berate them in front of other employees or customers? This kind of behavior is costly -- costing you the best employees because they can find other jobs, and your best customers who will find a place where people are treated well.
Taking customers for granted: It can cost up to ten times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep a current one. If you own a restaurant, create loyalty with email coupons for regulars, or just send a free appetizer to a couple that comes in often as a thank-you. Try to learn the names of your frequent customers -- greeting someone by name provides a powerful incentive to return, and it costs nothing.
Lousy location: If your business involves a storefront, take full advantage of a commercial broker to get a complete location analysis before opening a business. Look at traffic, whether there is a destination operation near you, and whether your target customers are likely to shop or dine in the area. Yes it will be more expensive to choose a good location, but unless you are selling something everyone wants and they can only get it from you, location is often the primary key to success.
Slipping into shabby: Have you ever seen the show Restaurant Impossible on the Food Network? Invariably, these places on the brink of ruin look tired and outdated. It doesn’t cost that much to make sure your place of business is attractive and in good shape. And this goes for online businesses too. Is your website outdated? Time for a makeover!
Ignoring problems: You need to consider customer complaints as gifts to you as an owner. Anticipate that for every comment, there may be twenty or more customers with the same complaint who didn’t say anything. Pay close attention and address those concerns immediately. It’s also a good idea to thank the customer for bringing it to your attention and possibly offer some sort of recognition such as a coupon or free something.
Shotgun spending: Don’t start marketing your business without a plan structured to include basics such as customer profiles, distribution and brand image. You can end up wasting money and time with nothing to show for it but less money and time. Do the tough work of planning upfront and then execute your plan.
There are many, many other marketing mistakes. It’s probably in the cards that you will make one or more of them as you start and run your business. But here’s the important part of those mistakes -- learn from them and move on. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and enjoy your marketing efforts. After all, it is more fun than accounting.