You’d think that with all the experience out there that marketers would have the process nailed down by now. Nope, people keep making the same mistakes and expect a different result….hey wait a second, isn’t that the definition of insanity?
Here is my top 10 list of marketing mistakes that I see repeated on a regular basis:
1. No clear definition of the target market. Having a vague notion of who your product or service is designed for is not a recipe for success. Great marketing strategy revolves around who you are targeting so the more clarity you have around the target market the more likely you are to achieve your objectives. A red flag goes up whenever someone says something like “we are targeting business users of technology”. That type of target market definition doesn’t tell me much.
2. Tactics versus strategy. Executing a marketing program without knowing why or how it supports the goals of the business or brand is like buying a new pair of jeans without knowing your waist size. Sure, you might guess right on the size but most likely you get a pair that make you look like hell, will be too tight or be completely out of fashion. Plan your shopping sprees and you’ll always get what you need.
3. Lose sight of the need for innovation. Great companies know that you always need to move forward and keep changing. To do that you need a constant flow of new ideas that can be developed to solve customer problems. Without innovation you fail to give customers a reason to keep thinking about why they need you. Companies like Tim Horton’s and Apple know this all to well. Learn from them and make innovation a cornerstone of your business.
4. Poor execution. The old adage is that it is better to execute a weak strategy really well than do a weak job on a great strategy. Once a direction has been set then all available resources should be allocated to the project to ensure it is executed well. If you’re going to do something then do the best damn job you can otherwise don’t do it. Often companies want projects completed but don’t assemble the right resources to do the job well.
5. No program post-mortems. Learning from mistakes is a great way to develop a better team and better results in the future. Assessing your programs for what worked and didn’t work provides a great way to zero in on where to focus your efforts. Not all programs need to have a post-mortem but certainly the large ones that consume major resources should. How else can a company get better if it doesn’t assess itself?
6. Focusing on the feature versus the benefit. Consumers and businesses buy benefits they don’t by features. Communication should be focused around the benefit a product or service delivers not the feature that it has. Consumers and businesses have a problem and they need to know how your product or service helps them solve it. Defining the product or service benefit can take some time but well worth the effort in terms of the clarity it brings to the strategy.
7. No clear point of difference or unique selling proposition (USP). If you (the marketer) can’t define how you’re better than the competition then how can you expect the customer to? A strong and compelling/relevant point of difference is the essence of business strategy and not easily developed. Spending the time to really understand and develop a clear USP will make the difference between success & failure.
8. Product versus Brand focus. This is a common mistake for technology companies because they are typically engineering driven which means they like to invent new products and figure out who will buy them after. This usually leads to valuable resources being spent on projects that have limited market opportunity. To avoid this trap a company should focus on developing products that meet customer needs and serve the overall brand/company strategy.
9. Lack of internal alignment to the marketing plan. Marketing can’t operate in a vacuum. Marketing must be partners with the other functional groups in the organization to deliver customer value. To do that the marketing group must share its plans with the other functional groups and get support BEFORE they go to market. Nothing causes more customer confusion than a program that goes to market when only half the company knows about it.
10. Embracing Social Media Marketing before a marketing plan is in place. Social Media is a tactic not a strategy and can lead a company in to areas they aren’t prepared for. Developing a marketing plan first, with an understanding of the role social media will play in overall marketing mix, will help ensure a strategic fit and focus the overall effort.
Definition of Insanity – Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result