It’s human to make mistakes, right? But does that also apply to your marketing efforts or is there a preconceived need to be perfect right from the start? While it’s natural for new businesses to test out their surroundings in every aspect, it is good to bear in mind that everything you do is public and leaves permanent footprints in cyberspace. Yes, it’s easier and cheaper to reach your target audience – and masses in general – nowadays than 20 years ago, but if you go about it without a plan and some sort of idea what you are doing, you may cripple your business image as you begin creating it. It has happened, people! And those companies have never quite gotten over it. To help you hit the ground running, we have compiled a list of 5 big marketing mistakes most new businesses make with the intention of helping you avoid them. So, let’s see what they are.
1) You don’t know your brand
When first starting marketing your company and whatever it is you are offering, the one question above all you need to ask yourself is: “What makes me different from my competitors?”. Having thought out thoroughly what singles you out from all other ice-cream shops in the area, for example – aside from amazing ice-cream, of course – you need to convey to your potential customers why they should buy from YOU. You need an USP – Unique Selling Proposition – a one-sentence-statement that positions you at the front of the line of all the companies that sell ice-cream. You need to hook and reel in Joe the customer by giving him a valid reason for buying YOUR ice-cream and not someone else’s.
The trick, however, is to set your product (or service) apart from that of your competitors, but also give a specific value to your customer – something that THEY will consider valuable, not you. So, you have to think from the perspective of the customer, which is far from easy and even the biggest brands sometimes get wrong. What is the one thing that makes you different and will attract customers? Once you define that, you need to employ it in all aspects of your marketing efforts: on the product package, on the printed material, in ads, in Social Media posts, in your email campaigns. Don’t assume people have heard enough of it – this is a phrase that needs to be synonymous with your brand and represent both your company and your product. Just to give you an example, here are some of the most famous USPs and the brands that have brought them to us:
Hallmark: “When you care enough to send the very best.”
FedEx: “When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.”
Dr. Pepper/7 Up: “Just what the Dr. ordered.”
2) You don’t know your target audience
When you’re first trying to get your business noticed, you can make the mistake of marketing your business to the wrong people. Yes, you might want to sell your delicious ice-cream to anyone thinking “Who doesn’t like ice-cream?”, but by doing so, you are seriously misguided, because you also need a target audience. As for every industry, there must also be a specific type of people who you will appeal to best – be it children who like your commercials, or parents who like the ingredients you use.
Moreover, you must always put the customer first. Think of their needs and wants, think not how you would want to be marketed to, but how you would want to be SPOKEN TO when offered to buy something from a company like yours. Yes, you might have a product that is generally liked (such as ice-cream), but no product really sells itself, you have to be the one to position it prominently on the market.
If you’ve already created Social Media accounts and started posting content, you just have to take a look at who is following you and interacting with it since everything you do online can be tracked and quantified. From there you will be able to see when your SM accounts are most popular, as well as the age, gender, location, profession, interests, and the like of your followers. These are all the parameters according to which you can shape your target audience. Once you know that, you can also adjust your tone of voice to a target audience and appeal to their sensibilities in the appropriate manner of speaking. Take a look at this ad to see how a company found a way to successfully market clothes to men:
3) You don’t evolve
You’ve probably had a solid creative and innovative idea if you’ve managed to start a business from it, but you mustn’t neglect to evolve from the starting point. An idea may have been great in its infancy, but if you don’t expand on it and change way you do business in accordance to market trends, you may as well give up now. People constantly change and so do their needs and wants. So if your company refuses to find its place in this ever-changing world, by being unwilling to use new technologies to advertise or organically connect with your customers, it’s doomed to fail. It’s a game of adapt or die, business owners!
Therefore, study your competitors. Go on their websites and see how they are organized and what they are offering. Go to their stores and sample their products. By gaining information on what they are doing, you are getting the idea of how to position your own business in the niche. But don’t rely just on your own experiences. Have an ear to the ground and take into the account the industry buzz as well. Every business owner that came before you can give you valuable insight into the inner workings of the market. Every one of your customers can give you a piece of advice on how to improve your service, product and business in general. Remember, everything you learn can help you immensely.
4) You don’t track performance
What is the point of doing business if you don’t know whether your efforts have the desired effect? Modern technology allows you to track pretty much everything you do, especially when it comes to digital marketing. Just go on the company website and Social Media accounts and see what it is being posted there, who the interactions are with and of what nature. By having a clear picture about who your target audience is comprised of as well as their behavior patterns when it comes to your business, you can serve them targeted ads at the most appropriate times and with the most desirable content.
Furthermore, access the analytics tools to get the raw numbers exactly when you need them and then use them to further your marketing agenda. Make the appropriate changes when you see the need – change the plan according to what does and doesn’t work. That way you will be able to manage your marketing budget efficiently and get the most out of it to help your company develop in the right direction.
5) You don’t turn opportunities into results
From the marketing point of view, you can be successful in any industry if you throw enough money at the problem. But when you’re just getting a new business off the ground, you can hardly afford it, don’t you agree? Besides, it takes time for quality marketing efforts to take root. You have to build your brand slowly and methodically, creating lasting relationships with customers. Once you do that, every their connection is your potential customer. It doesn’t really matter if you choose to rely on the word of mouth to market the ice-cream delight you are selling or if you want to go for the grand prize of positioning yourself as the biggest player in the industry through highly-costing advertisement. Everyone who hears of you and what you are selling is a potential new customer. They all represent an opportunity for you to seize. One satisfied customer leads to two, they to two more and so on.
Even your employees and other businesses can help you get the word about your product out. By using personal employee brands to tell company brand stories, they actually add credibility to both the brand and the story itself. You wouldn’t have put your own name behind something you can’t support, right? Then it goes to say that you would think highly of a brand its own employees are glad to stand behind as well. By the same token, the companies who want to say a nice thing or two about you can be from your niche or completely unrelated. Developing business relations with other companies can only be beneficial for you, so don’t frown upon it. Find a way to connect and you can do no wrong.