In 29 seconds: In many cases, marketing has more to do with mindset than strategy. Some companies don’t take the marketing function seriously until someone internally realizes that a formidable competitor is posting regularly on LinkedIn or has some very impressive blog posts, or reads a press release about their (new) product or service. This is usually enough to trigger some sort of marketing effort to get back in the game in the spirit of increasing brand awareness and attracting the attention of prospects. As the rush to marketing ensues, there are some common marketing mistakes companies make that harm their brand, such as:
- Promoting a soft or weak brand
- Plagiarizing competitors’ marketing messages
- Failing to create a sound marketing strategy
- Making inconsistent marketing efforts
- Practicing on-again, off-again marketing
- Failing to create well-rounded buyer personas
Keep reading for more.
Every company must be a marketing company to compete, succeed and grow.
There’s no way around it.
Most companies that understand the value and significance of marketing employ a marketing director, CMO, or marketing agency.
For those companies that value marketing but not enough to hire a full-time marketing professional, they assign it to a willing soul who agrees to take it on, but only when they have time.
You know this isn’t a good idea.
Such well-intentioned employees are not going to be familiar with marketing best practices and how marketing will backfire, causing brand damage if seemingly innocent marketing shortcuts are taken or if things such as the company’s website are ignored for too long.
So without further ado, here are 10 mistakes marketers make that cause harm to their brands.
1) Going to market with a soft or weak brand
Your brand is what people think about when they hear your name or see your logo. Is your brand strong enough and compelling enough for potential customers to give it priority consideration above your competition when they need what you sell? Is your brand well differentiated so that your target audience knows exactly why they should buy from you based on a strong value proposition?
Marketing a soft or weak brand will do you more harm than good, because all you’re doing is marketing a “me too” brand that tells the world you’re kinda sorta like everyone else.
2) Copycat marketing
Although everyone knows copycat marketing is verboten (e.g., marketing messages and blog posts), it happens more often than many would guess. (Maybe you’ve done it yourself, but we’re not here to judge.)
Aside from its illegalities and unethicalities, such as plagiarism and lying to potential and current customers, no company will ever become a leader by copying competitors’ content and intellectual property.
There is also a substantial risk that customers will notice the “strikingly similar content” and lose trust in the perpetrator’s brand. At the very least, copying does nothing more than say “me too!” to the company’s audience.
3) No marketing strategy
You know the saying — those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Developing ad hoc, impromptu marketing campaigns drains budgets, is often ineffective and confuses customers. When there is no strategy, no thought is given to complementary marketing efforts and tactics that reinforce one another to maximize effectiveness and ROI. Here’s the good news: Putting together a marketing strategy does not need to be as challenging as many people believe. Read more about it here.
4) Inconsistent marketing
This is often the consequence of no one being in charge of marketing. With no one at the marketing helm, it places salespeople in the awkward position of doing their own thing, and they do so because they understand how important marketing is to support their sales efforts and win new business.
So, if a company has four salespeople, all four would have their own, individual marketing strategies based on what they believe will be the most effective. This means four unique branding and marketing messages are going out into the wild, four unique email and social media campaigns, four unique PPC ads, white papers, brochures, marketing one-pagers, etc.
And then, there is the website with numerous administrators, each making changes based on each salesperson’s ideas and whims. (This is how websites become catastrophes.) Nothing confuses customers more than mixed and conflicting marketing messaging. It’s an ugly scene and will surely damage your brand.
On again, off again may be a great strategy for making perfect scrambled eggs, but in the marketing world, it proves to be a problem, especially when there are long pauses between marketing campaigns and activities. This is often the consequence of appointing marketing to someone who can kinda sorta take it on but lacks the bandwidth to do so or becomes so distracted by their primary job responsibilities that they forget to create that email campaign, post that article on LinkedIn or make sure to get that YouTube video done.
Marketers must remember that customers quickly suffer from brand amnesia and will quickly forget those brands that disappear for a while. If your marketing has been “on” for several months and disappears for a while, all that effort you put into your “on” is quickly forgotten. This will sink your marketing ROI.
5) Failing to create well-rounded buyer personas
Targeted marketing is so 2022. Enter hyper-targeted marketing — highly personalized and relevant to individual types of buyers. For those industrial companies still engaged in the spray-and-pray marketing tactics of the ’80s, their marketing ROI will surely run into the red. When you consider the amount of marketing noise your buyers are subjected to every hour of every day, you’ll begin to appreciate and understand the value and effectiveness of hyper-targeted marketing to reach your target audiences.
Of course, this will require knowing much more than the standard buyer attributes, such as job title, company size, age range and gender, topped off with a few stereotypes (e.g., analytical, always chasing lowest bids, etc.). Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers, based primarily on the attributes that describe your best customers and those you wish to reach. You’ll need to know much more, such as:
- Job title
- Job responsibilities
- How their job performance is measured
- What causes stress in their job
- Common misperceptions and misconceptions
- Income bracket
- How they learn about information
- How they make decisions
- Buying criteria
- Pain points that push them toward investigating solutions
- Associations and groups they belong to
- Industry events they attend
- Publications they read
- And more …
6) Overcommitting to too many marketing channels and tactics
Many marketers are led to believe that they need to be everywhere and do everything (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, TikTok, etc.) because you never really know where or how you’re going to get the attention of your next prospective customer.
This tune has changed. While being nearly everywhere may be a realistic goal for larger companies with well-staffed marketing departments or companies with the budgets to retain marketing agencies to ensure they are visible in as many places as possible, it isn’t possible for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
For smaller companies, the better strategy is to be in a few places and do a few things exceptionally well. It starts with a vibrant, well-optimized website with rich content and a solid LinkedIn presence. If these two elements are in place, the company’s next task will be to study its buyer personas to assist in identifying its next marketing strategy, tactic or campaign. This is why building out hearty buyer persona profiles is so important.
7) Outsourcing (too much) marketing to generative AI
As much as many marketers would like to think that generative AI will take care of their marketing, it is nowhere near as capable as many wish it to be. If you were to do just a bit of research on AI and experiment with its capabilities, you’d discover that as capable as it is, it is also rife with flaws. The biggest, in my opinion, is the generation of pedantic, sterile, matter-of-fact, dull, somewhat unreliable content.
I’ve tried to have AI produce interesting content as part of my marketing strategy, and it continually falls short of my expectations. I wrote this content myself, as I do with all my content, and I can’t envision myself changing. Does it cure writer’s block? Sure, I suppose, but to keep my mind sharp, I’d rather struggle through writer’s block and feel that rush of accomplishment than have a bot do it for me. Enough said.
8) Always shopping for a bargain
We all know that we get what we pay for. Need a web designer? Graphic artist? Copywriter? Social media specialist? SEO consultant? You can head to a site like upwork.com, and you’ll find an endless supply of people willing to work for surprisingly low hourly rates to fit within a small marketing budget. And then there are the experts who charge well into the three figures per hour.
And although your gut tells you the more expensive person would deliver a higher quality product, you may wonder how low you can really go to get someone who will be tolerable, or at best, mediocre. We all know that in business, mediocrity sucks. Mediocrity translates to poor quality work, excuses, missed deadlines, excuses, typos and misspellings, excuses, non-responsiveness, accidents and more excuses.
9) Reactive instead of proactive marketing
This is common among less-established and smaller companies struggling to appeal to prospective customers. Reactive marketing typically occurs when a company finds out that a formidable competitor is launching a new campaign and follows suit because, after all, they must know what they’re doing.
Reactive marketing can also be triggered by emerging industry trends that may or may not lead to new business or sales opportunities. Reactive marketing drains budgets and is not measurable. Proactive marketing, on the other hand, enables marketers to forecast and pre-prepare for new opportunities, much like visionaries, so that when opportunities present themselves, much of the work is already done, minimizing marketers’ mental and creative strains.
10) No one paying attention to the website
This is all too common even for companies actively and deeply engaged in marketing.
Websites need our constant attention to ensure they are functioning properly and doing what they are supposed to do — converting visitors to leads and leads to customers. The problem with websites is that links can break, formatting can be off, pages can show up as “Not Found” or not load as they should, etc.
The more common and larger problems occur when multiple people are given admin access to the site and start adding, deleting, changing and editing content without communicating with one another. Even worse, some find themselves in over their heads and negligently alter how the entire site functions, which is often a difficult and expensive fix.
At Seroka Industrial Branding, we encourage our clients to have no more than two administrators assigned to their websites, to have their websites proofread at least once per quarter to make sure everything works as it should and to review it through the eyes of a prospective customer to ensure it lubricates and facilitates the sales process.
Although there are online tools that will do these things for you, it’s always best to have a human involved. As good as AI is, it is not ready to be 100% trusted with something so important.
While companies make other common mistakes with their marketing, we believe these are the most significant, having the most impact.