by Hannah Whittenly
Are your marketing efforts falling on deaf ears? If it feels like you spend tons of time and money on promoting your business but have little to show for it, you’re not alone. In today’s competitive landscape, it’s easy for even highly innovative companies to get lost in the shuffle.
Luckily, there’s a lot that you can do about it. First, identify the mistakes that you’re making. Here are 10 especially common ones and steps that you can take to correct them.
1. You Don’t Have a WebsiteAccording to the non-profit organization SCORE, only 51 percent of small businesses have websites. If yours is among the 49 percent that don’t, it’s little wonder that customers have no idea that your company exists.
Why don’t you have a website for your business? If you think that it’s too expensive, think again. Having a simple website developed is reasonably affordable, and the return on your investment will be considerable.
If you think that maintaining one will be too difficult, services like Squarespace and Weebly will show you otherwise.
Finally, perhaps you believe that your business is “too local” to warrant a website. However, even when seeking nearby goods and services, people overwhelmingly turn to the Internet.
The solution here is simple: Have a website developed for your business. Its visibility will skyrocket in no time.
2. You Don’t Analyze What Works and What Doesn’tLike many business owners, you may pour a lot of time and money into your marketing efforts and then leave it at that. Without using analytics to see what works and what doesn’t, however, you’re just spinning your tires.
Successful marketing is all about trying things, measuring results and then optimizing your efforts accordingly. Without tracking the effectiveness of various techniques, there is no way to tell what works, and you can end up sticking with strategies that are getting you nowhere—and missing out on ones that really work.
With so many affordable, advanced analytics tools out there—Google Analytics, in particular—there’s no excuse for not tracking the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. By tracking metrics like conversions, bounce rates, traffic to various landing pages and the like, you can double down on techniques that are working and ditch those that aren’t.
3. You Aren’t Spying on the CompetitionRegardless of its niche or industry, your company has competition. Keeping track of what competitors are doing is one of the best ways to optimize your own marketing efforts.
When it comes to marketing, knowing your enemy is incredibly wise. Identify at least three primary competitors in your niche, and study their marketing techniques to leverage their successes and failures. For example, if a competitor tries something once and then abandons it, it’s probably not worth your while.
Monitor your competitors’ websites, blogs, social media pages, landing pages, paid ad campaigns, email marketing efforts and other marketing activities. Where do they seem to be having the most success? Take their efforts and improve upon them for even better results.
Spying on the competition may also help you refine your offerings. For example, if a competitor discontinues something that is still in demand, you can swoop in and offer it yourself to snag that business.
Finally, monitor competitors’ backlinks. Who is linking to them, and what kind of content is being linked? Use this information to bolster your link-building strategy.
4. Your Business Isn’t Distinctive EnoughEven in the most specialty niches, companies that don’t stand out generally go under. It is crucial to show prospects why they should do business with your company instead of with your competitors, and the best way to do that is by offering something that the competition isn’t.
Assess your offerings. How can you make them stand apart from the competition’s? A few characteristics of a better, more unique product include:
• The product is truly one of a kind—no one else is offering anything like it
• The good or service offers better value than alternative options
• The item meets customers’ needs better
• The product has superior overall quality
• The good or service delivers truly unique features and benefits
The bottom line is that “me too” businesses face uphill battles. Standing out in some way makes all other marketing efforts easier and more effective.
5. You Don’t Know Your AudienceYou can’t effectively market anything without knowing who you are marketing it to. Unfortunately, business owners have a tendency to promote their companies based on who they think their ideal customers are versus who they actually are.
Chances are that your offerings appeal to more than one kind of customer. For this reason, a granular marketing approach is essential. Engage in market research to identify the needs and pain points of various types of customers. Use this information to create detailed personas for each type of customer.
Different approaches should be used for each distinct persona. This means creating unique landing pages, social media campaigns and content for each. Put each unique buyer’s needs front and center in your efforts to maximize the effectiveness of your overall strategy.
6. You Don’t Know the First Thing About MarketingUnless you own a marketing firm, you may know next to nothing about marketing. Like many business owners, you may just contract the work out to others and assume that they will get things right.
Having a basic grasp of marketing is crucial because it allows you to hire the right people, not because it allows you to do it yourself. Business owners who know nothing about marketing are taken advantage of constantly. Get up to speed about today’s most effective marketing techniques so that you can hire people who won’t lead you astray.
7. You Don’t Have a Defined Marketing StrategyYou may think that you prioritize marketing, but that can’t be true if you don’t have a clear, written marketing strategy in place. Without one, you are sure to waste huge amounts of time and money.
According to the 2015 B2C Content Marketing Trends Report by Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, marketers with written strategies were twice as likely to say that their efforts were effective versus those who don’t. Instead of handling things in a haphazard, willy-nilly way, they put pen to paper and make a clear, actionable plan.
Sit down with your team to develop a clear marketing strategy. It should include an overarching brand identity and marketing message. It should also define your target audience as well as when, where and how you will market your business. Which marketing techniques will you use? On which channels will you use them? What schedule will you follow? Outline your marketing budget too to avoid squandering money on the wrong techniques.
8. You’re Losing at SEOBy now, everyone knows that search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the best ways to promote a company online. But just because you’re engaging in SEO doesn’t mean that you’re doing it as an SEO expert would.
Do any of these common SEO mistakes sound familiar? If so, it’s time for a change:
• prioritizing quantity over quality when link building
• not optimizing for local search
• optimizing for the wrong keywords
• not using anchor text at all, or being too repetitive with it
• using low-quality content
• not using unique title tags, meta descriptions or URLs
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of other mistakes that ruin the effectiveness of SEO.
Something that SEO whiz Chris Walker understands is that one of the biggest problems is how SEO is constantly changing. What works today may not work tomorrow. For this and many other reasons, it is generally best to hire a professional to help. Stick with SEOs who employ personalized approaches. An SEO expert needs to take the time to understand a company’s unique needs, stay abreast of the latest SEO trends, have a proven SEO system in place and hopefully offer free consultations.
9. You’re Ignoring MobileNot long ago, we officially passed the mobile usage tipping point. According to KPCB’s 2015 Internet Trends Report, mobile digital media time now totals 51 percent versus 42 percent for desktop. Also, people spend 2.8 hours per day accessing the Internet via mobile now versus just 0.4 hours per day in 2010. What’s more is that 87 percent of Millennials say that their smartphones never leave their side.
So, mobile is a thing. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re surely missing out on tons of exposure and business.
You don’t have to create a separate mobile app or mobile website to correct this issue. Instead, hire someone to build your website with responsive web design, so that it renders properly across all devices. Responsive web design delivers a better user experience. Google recommends it, and it’s cost effective and easy to manage. What’s not to love?
10. You’re Putting All of Your Eggs in One BasketWhen a particular marketing technique pays off, it’s tempting to go all-in and to focus all of your budget and efforts on it. However, this can and will backfire in a number of ways. Diversification is crucial when it comes to effectively marketing a business.
An integrated marketing approach that incorporates a variety of techniques is better for business. For one thing, you’re better positioned for sudden changes. For example, an algorithm change can render what works now completely ineffective in the blink of an eye. By having other approaches in the hopper, you aren’t completely out of luck.
Additionally, an integrated approach keeps customers more engaged. You can also play different channels off of each other to maximize their effectiveness. Don’t just diversify for digital, either. Traditional approaches like cold calling and direct mail are still worthwhile too.
Whether you’re making one or two of the mistakes above or are guilty of all 10, don’t despair. It’s never too late to correct them. The sooner you do, the sooner your message will reach the right people—and the sooner you will on your way to true success.
Catch up on my current posts along with industry articles