Marketing is a unique animal, and that fact is only highlighted by today’s lightning-paced online marketplaces. Marketing is not just a substantial professional field in its own right but one that leaves its fingerprints on every other industry around the world.
If you’re a small business or an entrepreneur trying to get your first project off the ground, understanding all the nuances of modern marketing–and then leveraging that understanding to develop winning strategies–can quickly become another full-time job. It is a necessary one, however.
Marketing is not just a side project to consider when you have ample downtime; it is the very lifeblood of your business. Without effective marketing, you don’t reach any customers, and, in turn, your business venture is short-lived. Small business marketing is not a matter of boosting returns but one of survival.
Marketing Strategies for Your Brand
When exploring which strategies will be advantageous for your unique brand, customer base, and business model, the options are vast, ranging from traditional billboards to emergent tech, like AI-assisted customer interactions. To further complicate matters, the “correct” marketing plan can look wildly different from one business to the next, depending on their unique circumstances.
Learning about common pitfalls to avoid is a great place to start narrowing down these options. This will ensure you don’t waste time and money workshopping underwhelming or counterproductive marketing ideas.
To help you get started with that process, here is a trio of major marketing mistakes that we see crush a small business’s potential far too often.
1. Mission Amnesia: Don’t Forget Your Roots
Diving into the world of marketing is exciting, especially with so many new possibilities and concepts available with today’s technology. However, this breadth of options can also be overwhelming or distracting.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with being enthusiastic about shiny gadgets like AI chatbots, automated content creation, or new analytic models fueled by machine learning. However, you need to be sure that any new marketing tool you implement supports the fundamentals of your mission and vision. The old adage “all press is good press” simply doesn’t hold true when it comes to marketing blunders.
Marketing is more complex than simply attracting as many eyes as possible to your product. Any marketing campaign must reinforce what you’ve already established about your brand rather than clash with or undermine it.
Consider an organic food distributor whose brand is defined by strong, personal connections with the community and nature. Such a company might want to think twice before turning over all of its frontline customer service to an AI chatbot. This simple example highlights an obvious conflict of interests, but marketing contradictions in the real world are often much more nuanced, so be sure to carefully analyze any potential strategy through the lens of your unique brand.
If you feel your marketing campaigns are slipping out of alignment with your core values, take some time to reconnect with your business’s inception:
- What made you start this project?
- What has driven your past successes?
- What do you love about your brand, and what’s the best way to convey that love to potential customers?
Without a strong link to the brand being promoted, and the customer base being promoted, even the most cutting-edge marketing can miss the mark and fail to resonate.
Note that there’s a flip side to this concept that can also be leveraged to good effect in some cases. If your current brand isn’t working, and you’re ready to redefine your mission and culture in a more comprehensive way, an unexpected marketing choice can be a great way to launch that total rebranding effort.
2. Strategy without Structure
Let’s say you have an online business that has thrived and grown since its launch, resulting in plans to open a brick-and-mortar retail location. You would certainly never pay a contractor to build your new storefront without seeing and approving the blueprints first, as well as looking at mock-ups of the final construction. You need to have those same proactive and protective principles in place when marketing.
Rushing to get in on a new marketing trend without a structured plan for implementing it and measuring its performance is a recipe for wasted time and missed opportunities. In the worst-case scenario, it may also result in a permanent downgrade to your brand’s reputation.
Instead of investing in new tools that you may not understand well, invest in creating a robust framework that can inform all of your marketing decisions going forward. You can start by conducting internal audits and gathering customer feedback to identify gaps in your current strategy.
A comprehensive marketing policy that can be shared with your staff and contractors will help to make your vision clear. It also ensures a consistent tone across all marketing and branding activities, regardless of any technological paradigm shifts the future may hold.
When you do come across a new marketing idea that seems to have potential, you need to do some groundwork ahead of time, allowing you to gauge its benefits before a full implementation. Research how this concept has worked for other companies in your industry of a similar size and/or in the same geographic area.
Analyze all available data related to the technology or strategy you’re considering. Lastly, implement a small-scale “soft launch” to test new strategies before rolling them out operation-wide. You can do this by limiting a new campaign to a single city or social media platform. After a predetermined test period, compare how the new concept’s results measure up against your existing marketing.
Just as marketing is an integral part of running a successful business, strategic planning is an integral part of marketing.
3. Failure to Act & Failure to Evolve
Even the most brilliant strategizing and exhaustive research won’t amount to much without timely execution. In addition to showing restraint when it comes to shaky new technologies, you need to know when–and how–to drop the hammer once you’ve identified something that works.
However, this does not always mean deploying strategies on the fastest possible timeline. Sometimes, it can be beneficial to sit on a hot new marketing strategy until your analytics show a need for it or until seasonal trends (think holiday shopping) are poised to make the most of it.
And once you do go live with a new campaign, that’s not the end of the story. A successful marketing strategy may eventually fail to meet up with changing societal values, economic conditions, or competitors’ strategies. In short, the world changes, and so must your marketing. Be proud of your marketing successes, but also be willing to let them go and move on to the next phase when they no longer serve your mission.
Implement a quarterly or even monthly check-up process for your marketing. When your analytics show slipping sales that can’t be chalked up to an external factor, it’s time to review your options. This may be an opportunity to utilize one of those new marketing strategies you’ve been planning and researching.
If you don’t have sufficient in-house marketing resources, consider reaching out to a third-party marketing expert to help with these detail-oriented analyses and roll-outs. Having formalized plans and policies in place will help eliminate friction and ensure seamless transitions when working with outside contractors.
Marketing is not a one-and-done project but a perpetual activity. You should always be researching and brainstorming new concepts so that you have the “next big thing” ready in the pipeline for the end of your current strategy’s life cycle.
AJA Marketing: End-to-End Marketing Help for Small Businesses
If you’re a small business operator or entrepreneur looking for assistance implementing a new marketing strategy, cost-effective help is available.
AJA Marketing has a track record of success working with satisfied clients across a breadth of industries.
Whether you’re building a new brand from the ground up, considering a new technology, or just need an extra pair of eyes to help make sense of your marketing strategy, the marketing experts at AJA Marketing are standing by to assist.
CLICK HERE to Book a Discovery Session with AJA Marketing!