During my time as a freelancer, I’ve worked with all manner of clients. I’ve signed on for contract positions and provided expertise as a consultant, worked for both the monolithic corporations that employed my grandfather once upon a time and the young startups popping up around Metro Detroit. I’ve worn many hats in as many places and yet one thing remains constant: most marketing strategies are flawed.
Even worse, many companies share the same flaws because, rather than create something of their own, they simply mimicked what others were doing, resulting in stale and standardized approaches that did little for anyone. There were websites, there was social media, there was content…but it was all the same. With each company that I transitioned to, I witnessed the same methods, the same issues, and ultimately the same result: ineffectiveness. Here are five symptoms of poor marketing practices and how to fix them before it’s too late.
1. Resistance to change.
Like any business, marketing is a constantly changing landscape. There are always new technologies, trends, and methods rocking the boat to ensure that one keeps on their toes in order to stay competitive. Yet time and time again, in the face of even the most advantageous of new strategies, I have looked upon the war-beaten faces of my managers and stood in horror as they whispered with ghastly defiance, “We’ve always done it like this.”
If you do the same things you’ve always done, you’ll never get what you’ve never had. Mere persistence, while useful, is not the only thing that’s going to boost your web traffic by 5,000 viewers per month by the end of next quarter.
Solution: Clearly define your goals and measure your current rate of progress towards them.
There is little as effective at convincing leadership that something needs to change as clear, indisputable data. If your company has been tracking metrics such as engagement rates, web traffic, email open rates—any interactions or results directly generated by your marketing—you should be able to paint a clear picture of your current position and contrast it with where you want to be. Are your engagement numbers increasing month-to-month? What platforms does your audience frequent most? Are you providing enough content there? If not, how can you improve?
Considerations like these are crucial when deciding whether your current approach is working the way you need it to. And if it isn’t, then change is the only solution.
Overloading your team.
Perhaps the most common problem plaguing marketing departments everywhere is by far the simplest: loading your team members with too much work. This one likely stems from an undervaluation of marketing’s importance, one that I personally continue to be baffled by. Without marketing, your company will not reach your consumers, and without reaching your consumers, you will make no sales. Yet somehow, marketing seems to have gained a reputation for being light work, a gear in the machine that plays second fiddle to, say, the sales team. And so, any solution to a marketing deficiency becomes “just” writing more blogs or “just” sending more emails, piling on more unnecessary work to a marketing team that needs to work smarter instead of harder.
Solution: Trust your team. Delegate aspects of your overall strategy and allow them to exercise their skills as specialists.
From search engine optimization to social media, each link in the marketing chain requires knowledge and nuance. If you click on any one of those “How to Start Marketing Today!” articles, you’re sure to come across the idea that the key to any good marketer’s success is having a specialization and a niche. Being a jack-of-all-trades worked well for me when I was independent, but anything I could possibly do on my own would pale in comparison to what a dedicated team of specialists like Alto Rose could accomplish.
Of course, it always helps to have multiple skills so team members can support one another, but delegating key tasks in your marketing strategy to the people who excel most at that particular skillset will ensure that you get the maximum effectiveness out of your team and cover any gaps that might have formed otherwise. It sounds simple, but it is often the simplest of steps that are the most overlooked and the most dangerous when left unchecked.
Lacking a brand voice.
When establishing a brand identity, it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of logos, signage, and collateral. But what I have found many companies to neglect is the importance of defining their company’s distinct voice. All the content in the world won’t mean a thing if there is no underlying personality to solder it all together.
As a writer, I have often been tasked with tweaking brand voices only to end up going through an entire series of styles and personalities that didn’t quite fit because there was nothing for me to go on. A brand voice is not its own entity, but simply a manifestation of a company’s mission, culture, and style. But if you’re trying to create a voice before any of these pieces fall into place, then you’re tackling the issue all wrong.
Solution: Define yourself with everything that makes your company tick.
When it comes down to it, no matter what your company does, there’s probably a thousand others who do exactly what you do, so you must figure out a way to stand out. What do you do differently from your competitors? What types of people comprise your staff? How do you want to be perceived by your customers?
Language, jargon, humor—a voice is comprised of any number of elements that embody what you do and how you do it. Image is the gateway to interest, which brings them that much closer to that coveted final phase of converting sales. Once you find your voice, your content will be that much more distinguished, and will be reflective of the identity you have crafted as your company’s personality shines through.
Failing to evaluate your own offerings.
What most people seem to struggle with, in business or otherwise, is honest self-reflection. Researching the market and knowing what your competitors are doing is very important, but it can be even more enlightening simply examine what it is that want to do.
The reality is that with the current state of the internet and digital tools available, just about anyone can do some decent marketing. So, the goal has shifted from selling a particular set of services to selling your approach to those services and why it’s better than what anyone else is doing.
Solution: Clearly establish what unique value you offer.
Don’t just push marketing, push a suite of bespoke services tailored for small businesses who need to amplify their social reach. Don’t just offer “SEO stuff”, but specifically SEO for established companies whose page ranking progress has stagnated—in other words, that secret SEO ingredient that their current strategy lacks. In Alto Rose’s case, we act as an extension of our clients’ marketing team, to essentially become another arm of their organization. We enhance, rather than replace. So as opposed to hiring an additional 10 employees with several full-time salaries and benefits packages, Alto Rose can deliver the impact of a team of 10 for the price of 1. That is our value.
Once you know what makes you special, it will be easier for you to create messaging for your audience illustrating just why they need you.
Content that does not get results.
One company that hired me on was sorely in need of some serious content strategy. Their social media channels, while active, were filled with decade old memes in an attempt to seem cool and down to earth… to their audience of seasoned industry veterans who had no idea what memes were. Mind you, this was not some young startup run by fresh college grads, but a major 30-year-old player in its industry looking to forge an image of maturity and professionalism—not exactly the type to get much mileage out of memes at all. So, there are already 3 egregious mistakes here:
- Expired content.
- Not knowing your audience.
- Post and pray strategy
The word “content” gets tossed around like some sort of marketing panacea that will magically generate traffic, but content without a plan is as useful as a map with no roads.
Solution: Define a set of goals that you need to achieve before you begin building a body of content.
Content must be goal-driven and supported by metrics. Depending on what exactly you’re churning out, the content creation process can be quite involved, so it’s always best to know what that content is going to achieve for your company rather than wasting time on posts that will never be seen. Strategy is everything.
Do any of these issues sound familiar? If so, don’t hesitate to contact Alto Rose today.