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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Top 5 Marketing Mistakes NOT To Make in 2011

Most of my marketing and advertising experience focuses around Real Estate, but as I speak with authors and other managers here and there I see some common "denominators" when it comes to mistakes in marketing and advertising that put up barriers to success.

Most of the time I find people looking for this generic "Step-by-step" approach of "one size fits all" --especially when it comes to the Internet.  The truth is that "one size doesn't fit all" and that type of mindset should be avoided.  Let's take a look at the top 5 mistakes most make when it comes to marketing and advertising:

  1. "Marketing and Advertising are one and the same.
    Marketing is best defined as "telling the story of the product".  Advertising therefore is the mechanism in which that story is delivered to the consumer.  How one "tells the story" within the advertising is made up of a combination of things such as images, descriptions, features, benefits of those features, data, etc.  When you approach the two separately, you are able to develop a more comprehensive and effective plan.  When you simply lump the two together a lot often gets missed.  For example when my wife lists a property and we set out to get it sold for the owner; the marketing is about telling the story of that house through a package of photos, property information, description of the features and benefits, and conveying a sense of living there. 

    All of which is delivered through various advertising mechanisms and channels to potential buyers.  Office Divvy is a great example of a local company that does an excellent job telling the story of the unique service products the company offers through multiple advertising mechanisms and channels. 

  2. "Everyone is my target customer. There is often this notion that products apply to everyone.  I hear this a lot with authors of books.  Not every reader is the same, and every book written will not appeal to every reader.  Maybe everyone should read the book, but the reality is that everyone will not.  The same goes for other products and services.  If you are not sure exactly who your target market is, find a starting point from similar products or services.  As you venture out to deliver your message to them through advertising you may find your target market being something other than you initially expected.  At which time, you can tweak your strategies.  Books are a great example here.  "Harry Potter" was written for young readers.  The "Twilight" series was written for teens.  Both found a very strong adult reading audience as well although that wasn't what was originally anticipated.  

  3. "I Think People Will..." Strategies. 
    My wife and I have a little saying we go by when it comes to marketing and advertising, "It's about I know.  NOT what I think."  When you begin applying the "I think" attitude, you are basically applying only what you personally respond to and expect.  You are not everyone, and you are not every one of your customers.  To avoid this you have to look at the data and "listen" to what customers are telling you through the data to effectively deliver your message.  For example, there is this blanket notion sometimes that all buyers are online in Real Estate. 

    Contrary to this assumption are year-after-year surveys that show that about 85% to 90% shop online which leaves about 10% to 15% that are not shopping online.  Therefore, our advertising strategies must accommodate both online and offline methods to capture the widest possible buyer audience.  We do not stop placing signs on lawns for instance, but we do seek ways to enhance those signs based upon consumer behaviors such as adding smartphone scannable QR codes.  Did we decide to do this simply because we "thought people would use that"?  No.  We made the decision based upon the fact that consumers in many industries are utilizing QR codes provided on products to get more information. 

  4. "Attention always gains you business." 
    Gaining attention alone is never a guarantee that you will gain business.  In fact, some attention can create undesired results and actually lose business.  I've come across blogs by professionals that are plastered with the industry they are in and the topics are filled with negative political perspectives that have little or nothing to do with their industry.  Sure they may have created attention, but have not attracted business because the message has no relevancy to the actual consumer.  In fact, they are probably alienating more business than they realize.  The notion of "Brand, You" comes to mind here as well and not one I find is executed very well often times.  When it comes to the individual, I focus more on building reputation based upon the expectations of consumers.   I find that when individuals start focusing on this "branding" of themselves they tend to get overly creative and the message of benefit to the consumer is never effective.  Brand focus in my opinion is more effective when it is built and centered around the message of relevant and beneficial products and services to the consumer.

    Although my wife (Kathleen West) is, the site and the services it provides are a brand in and of itself designed to provide visitors with the best possible local Real Estate shopping experience blending her in with the services the site provides. 

  5. "Advertising is an expense." 
    All businesses have necessary expenses to keep the business operating.  But not everything a business pays for is an expense.  Advertising is one of those things, and should be approached as an investment.  Like any investment an individual or business makes, you should expect a return.  For example, if I spend $100 on a print ad with a coupon discount and I receive a large response that increases my sales 20% over last year . . . the ad has paid for itself and provided a return.  Now if I spend $100 on that ad and never receive any response, my advertising is an expense and should be re-evaluated.  So you need to measure your business advertising and know which mechanisms are delivering a response from consumers which will allow you to maximize your investment and provide the most return.  The difficult thing here too is that not all advertising returns are so direct as the example above.  Some of those returns may be more indirect or realized over time.  For example, business cards are still relevant and handing them out is a beneficial means of advertising.  You may not immediately gain business from the recipient or the recipient may pass it on to another who ends up doing business with you.  Therefore, when it comes to business cards I look to get as many as possible at the lowest cost with the best appearance.  The investment is low and the return is therefore huge.  
So if you are revisiting your marketing and advertising initiatives for the new year, take a moment to see if any of those items are you.  Now's the time to make a change and get off on the right foot for great possibilities in 2011.

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