Marketing is more about planning and execution than it is about concept. I’ve seen great ideas fail miserably due to easily avoidable mistakes.
However, not all marketing blunders will cause irreparable harm to your brand. They may become fodder for internet commentators and late night comedians, but a strong brand identity and fast mitigation can prevent any real and lasting damage.
Besides, news moves fast in the digital age.
For the times when you can’t rely on something else to come along and commandeer public attention and scorn, there are some proven marketing tactics to turn the situation around.
Common Marketing Mistakes and How to Fix Them
Many of the most common mistakes have nothing to do with being tone deaf or unauthentic, but those things certainly won’t win fans. Typically, blunders happen when we try to take shortcuts.
I get it. You have a new product line or a great concept and you’re chomping at the bit to set your plans in motion.
But, haste makes waste, as my mother used to say. As you’ll see, many of the following mistakes are the result of launching a campaign prematurely or not thinking the concept through before putting it into action.
Mistake #1: Miscalculating the Timing
We all know that time is money. But too many marketers expect unrealistically fast results when a strategy is geared toward long-term sustainability.
For example, a new SEO strategy can take weeks to see results. When we don’t see these results fast enough, we’ll pull the ad or change strategies mid-stream. This doesn’t give them enough time to pay off. As you’ll see further on, this is also a common problem with A/B testing. What you should be looking for is sustainable, measurable progress.
On the flip side of this equation is the marketing strategy that should show results quickly and is allowed to go on for too long without tweaking. I’m looking at you, PPC.
Mistake #2: Overly Broad Focus
This is a mistake based on the old school marketing strategy of saturating the market with ads and hoping the right people see them. If you want to hit your target market, narrow the focus to qualified leads and tailor content to meet those leads wherever they are in their journey.
For example, you don’t approach someone just becoming aware of your brand the same way you’d approach a long-time customer. Create smaller audience segments and use a more relevant, personalized approach for each.
Mistake #3: No/Inadequate Testing
I once had a client who increased her conversions significantly by just changing the size and placement of her CTA button. Another client increased their customer inquiries by replacing stock photos with images of real patients. Neither of these problems and solutions would have been discovered without split (A/B) testing various page elements.
While testing is now a common best practice, not enough brands know how to test. They use audience segments that are too small, and they don’t run the tests long enough to obtain valid results.
You should use two audience segments that are comparable in size and demographic makeup, that are comprised of individuals who fit your target demo, and run each test for a minimum of two weeks. I would say to put a minimum of 500 individuals in each segment. It’s also important that each test focuses on one element at a time so that you can quickly narrow down what isn’t working and why.
Mistake #4: Creating Brand-centric Content
It’s a mistake to think that your advertising should be about you. Sure, customers need some brand awareness going in. But, the content should reflect the pain points of the customer and how your brand addresses them. Make it about them and how your brand impacts their life.
Mistake #5: No Unique Value Prop
Right or wrong, everyone want to know what’s in it for them. If you want someone to visit your website or buy your product, you have to give them something of value in return.
What can you offer that sets you apart from the competition and adds value to what you’re selling? That could mean anything from a discount or other incentive to a better way of doing things. Don’t just add “new” or “better” to the ad, either. Tell exactly what’s new or how it’s better.
Mistake #6: Poor Research
Most of the errors we’ve mentioned can be avoided with proper research and planning. For example, many brands have gotten into trouble by jumping on a trending hashtag without researching the meaning behind it. Others fail due to not understanding their market. In fact, research is the common element behind every facet of creating an ad campaign, from knowing which social media platform fits your brand identity or creating an ideal persona, to which font and color scheme are most appealing on our web page.
Mistake #7: Trying to Bootstrap
I’ll be the first to admit that any opportunity for free advertising is a good one. However, that doesn’t mean that you should skimp or cut corners. Practices like soliciting user-generated content, social media marketing, or word of mouth should supplement your marketing campaign, not replace it.
It’s recommended that a full 25 percent of your budget should be dedicated to marketing. That includes investing in technology, platforms, and forms of paid advertising that provide a good ROI. If you don’t have the budget to manage that, there are hundreds of SBA grants and angels in search of investment opportunities.
Mistake #8: Not Tracking Performance
One of the biggest rookie mistakes is just releasing a product or ad campaign and waiting for something to happen. In today’s marketing, you have to constantly track, retool, and realign your strategies.
In fact, you should do your research before, during, and after you launch a product line or new ad campaign to better understand consumer behavior and trends. There’s no excuse not to track your audience and performance. There are plenty of campaign management tools available, and virtually every platform includes customizable analytics and reporting features.
Turning Your Own Marketing Blunders Around
If the 2014 DiGiorno Pizza misstep taught us anything, it’s that lack of due diligence can lead to a PR nightmare. But as you can see above, many PR mistakes are the result of inexperience rather than the result of being tone deaf or failing to do adequate research.
The best way to remedy marketing mistakes is to avoid making them in the first place. But, there is little we can do about unintended consequences. Whatever the error, act fast. Whether it is an unfortunate product placement, an ad line that could be taken the wrong way, or a social media faux pas, take ownership by apologizing right away, making it personal, and being sincere.
It’s also essential that you analyze what went wrong so you can avoid a repeat. Mistakes only result in failure if you fail to learn from them.
Marketing is all about trial and error. Even the best-planned campaigns sometimes need to be tweaked until they show positive results. However, the big blunders can destroy your public image and diminish consumer confidence.
The above guide is designed to help you learn more about how marketing mistakes can be transformed into success stories. If you need advice about your company’s strategy, talk with a digital marketing expert from Level343 today.