In forty years of advising clients, I can honestly and respectfully say I have seen just about every conceivable mistake that could be made when seeking marketing perfection. In reality, ‘marketing perfection’ doesn’t exist. The most successful marketers are continually evaluating their spending, creativity, tone of voice and delivery, seeking improvements and gains from their budgets. Large companies even have dedicated analysts and sections within marketing to carry out the analytical tasks to evaluate the intricacies of results and provide insight into marketing improvement.
For small and medium-sized businesses, they don’t have the resources, time or luxury to look at their marketing in the minute detail the larger companies see as a natural daily process. However, small and medium-size businesses do and can make many fundamental mistakes in their marketing that sets a negative path towards marketing failure or mediocracy. Many miss the basics and fail to understand seven major principles to marketing success.
“In this article, I am going to outline seven areas where SME’s make fundamental mistakes and don’t diligently consider within their marketing. These are oversights or mistakes I have witnessed continually.”
So, what do those seven areas consist of?
Planning – I have lost count of the number of businesses that don’t have a marketing plan or strategy in place. Indeed, it is hard to find a business in the SME fraternity that has a marketing plan. Have you got one? I would ask the question to anyone in business reading this article. “Do you have a marketing plan or strategy? If not, why not? Do you leave your business financials to chance or guesswork? Of course, you don’t. Why would you risk a valuable budget or spend without a plan? Many do unfortunately.
Marketing planning is a fundamental necessity. It is the ability to understand your audience, what they want, what your competition offers in comparison to you. It is about having a very strong insight into your market. It opens the door for innovation and opportunity. It is one of the most important requirements for every business on the planet.
Branding – inconsistency of look and feel, messages, tone of voice and many other aspects of branding will reduce recognition and ultimately engagement. Making sure you are consistent with your branding is very important for building brand recognition.
Media choice – I very often come across a business-owners/leaders that have made poor choices about the platforms they use to communicate with their customers. A typical scenario is a B2B business spending far too much time and resource on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram instead of considering LinkedIn, a platform that is perfecrtly geared towards building business to business relationships. Worringly, I have even seen ‘so called’ marketing advisers making the same recommendations. Very few businesses who trade B2B should consider these consumer social platforms as important inclusions in their marketing mix. Yes, have a presence in case the evening scrolling down personal timelines bares some fruit, but certainly don’t consider consumer based social platforms as your main choice of media unless you deal directly with the public.
Consistency – I have in my forty years, even heard the statement, Marketing doesn’t work for my business. Wow, that is a strong statement. In forty years, I have yet to find a business where marketing cannot work. Indeed, I would be as bold to state that Marketing works for every business, and in many cases, some of those business owners who have uttered those words hadn’t even realized they were already marketing regularly. The perception and understanding of what marketing consists of can sometimes be confused.
Consistency comes off the back of planning. If you are being consistent in delivery and consider my seven points below, you can gain success in your marketing. Consistency and diligence are prerequisites to marketing success. Marketing failure only exists if you don’t have a market for your products and services, or your market sector is declining rapidly.
Disruptive – It is all too easy to fall into the trap of being safe with your marketing. Indeed, most businesses that adopt a safe approach are invariably the least successful at their marketing. Safe isn’t interesting or engaging.
We are now in the realms of an incredibly busy digital marketing space. The noise across all mediums is evident when we view our own social timelines or inboxes. To stand out and get noticed, we must be disruptive or disrupt the train of thought with the recipients of our marketing. We must be inventive and maybe sometimes, just a little controversial with the message. The creative implementation of our marketing requires further thought on how we can get noticed to rise above the noise and our competitors.
Emotive – I hear many brands proudly stating a set of USPs. In reality, most businesses who trade in a busy sector don’t have any standout USPs. Great customer service or attention to detail are not USPs.
Something I call ESPs, which is not an ability to predict the future or guess whether the card I am holding is the Queen of Hearts. It is something I call Emotional Selling Points. The buying process inside everyone requires an emotional reaction, an attraction to that purchasing opportunity. Emotional Selling Points are the injection of belief in what you say, sell and offer. It is what that great Marketer Simon Sinek calls the ‘Why’s. Get the recipient to believe what you believe and attach your marketing delivery to an emotional reaction. As Simon says, emotion is a biological reaction. Marketing has to appeal to the part of the brain that creates emotion.
Creative – To a certain extent, the previous content covers the creative element of marketing. However, it is important to consider these two areas of creativity. Firstly, look at the quality of the design and message. If you are producing poor design, the perception is you are also delivering poor products and services. Something I call, ‘Perception is Reality’. If your creativity is extremely well delivered, the perception is you are very good at what you do. If you deliver it poorly, the perception or spontaneous reaction is the poor delivery will transcend through everything else you do. Remember, you have just a split second to get noticed, and impress. The success of that split second reaction is extremely important to your marketing success.
Why take the risk of poor results when you don’t have to?
Marketing complacency is commonplace in the SME sector and risking the quality of results by not considering these detailed points is untenable, and a waste of valuable marketing budget. I remember an example of this with a business that traded in the insurance industry. The brokerage had been placing a half-page advertisement in a publication for over 20 years. Great for consistency: a bit tick there. However, it was entirely the wrong publication. Their audience had migrated or faded away years before, and after some testing with promotional codes, it was proven that the advertising wasn’t delivering results. In real terms, that was many £thousands wasted in the wrong place, with the wrong message and poorly executed from a creative point of view. The first ‘wrong’ was more than enough to consider a change of direction with their advertising spend.
“Don’t leave the opportunity of marketing success to chance. It is a science which requires a diligent approach that will gain results for anyone who takes that opportunity to understand the fundamentals that create marketing success.”
MD – Elan Marketing