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Over the past few years, the basic process of planning a marketing strategy has been more or less the same, with only a few minor tweaks brought about by advanced tools and newer (digital) communication channels.
However, you’d be surprised to know that despite having tons of detailed guides and reference materials, marketing managers are still making the same mistakes at a rudimentary level.
These mistakes might not only cost the company but also affect its reputation.
Let’s first briefly understand how the marketing strategy is planned. When preparing a marketing strategy, you:
- Identify your target audience,
- Figure out competitors’ strategy,
- Decide on brand positioning,
- Set a (dozen or so) goals such as awareness, traffic, purchase, or conversions,
- Prepare a content calendar for your website, social media, tradeshows, ads, PR, etc.,
- Deliver all the marketing collateral for direct and indirect communication,
- Execute your campaigns,
- Measure the outcome of all your efforts.
The first mistake is made right at the first stage of the process.
Not using market research in your marketing strategy
Marketing research is extremely complex element of a marketing strategy because it involves a number of variables. For starters, your perception of your product or brand is different from your customers. Your customers’ perception in one city differs from that of customers in another city.
The failure of Meetro is a prime example. The multi-network social messenger failed to create waves beyond Chicago. Another famous example is Groupon’s fiasco in China. Groupon suffered in international markets because it failed to embrace different cultures that influence the market.
You can’t stick with the same marketing plans for different locations and audience. The Aflac Duck, known as Maneki Neko Duck, in Japan looks different from its US counterpart. The changes were made keeping Japan’s culture in mind and the company saw positive results because of the tweak.
While researching your market, take into account the following things:
- Your brand persona and communication is irreversible. It takes years to build a brand persona, so make sure you set the right foot in.
- Set aside a small percentage of your marketing budget for research so you can send out surveys, talk to your customers and most importantly, understand behavioral patterns and change in different demographics.
Ineffective communication methods in a marketing strategy
When CMI and MarketingProfs asked B2B marketers to rate their organization on the effectiveness of meetings to discuss their marketing plan, 38% said these meetings were least effective. Further, only 53% marketers had a documented strategy!
In a time where technology has brought down all networking and meeting barriers, this seems amateurish. But in reality, a lot of organizations are still struggling to communicate their marketing goals. As the marketing plan leaves the Global Marketing Head’s office and trickles down to the grassroots level marketer, the whole idea is drastically altered.
In an increasingly connected world, the most effective solution to ensure everyone is one the same page is to use tools that are designed to boost collaboration and clear communication. While there is a surplus of cloud-based tools that are designed to make sure no important intra-team message is missed, deciding on one that is best suited to your organizational needs and preferences is no simple matter. Wistia had to resort to a tug of war to decide whether to continue using HipChat or Slack as their communication tool of choice.
Below, you can find some of the more popular options.
ClickMeeting is a videoconferencing/webinar tool that managers and marketers can use to hold meetings with their team or present plans or reports using screen sharing, chart graphics, slide decks, simultaneous chat translations, and other audio-visual elements.
Trello is a hugely popular, list-based project management system that works on the Kanban methodology. All tasks move along a To Do > Doing > Done conveyor.
If you belong to the “nothing like email” school of thinking, Hiver is the tool for you – it’s a Gmail plugin that allows you to use shared labels to categorize emails as tasks as well as track their status.
Marketing budget imbalance
This mistake is made at the planning/preparation level. Marketers end up blowing their budget on direct communication such as advertising, tradeshows, etc. while allowing only a small portion of the budget to flow into indirect communication channels.
Marketers prefer direct marketing because:
- It does not happen in isolation,
- Its results are immediate and obvious.
An interaction that happens in a live event is very different than an interaction in a podcast where only a few are listening to your message.
Flowtab’s Santa Monica pub crawl fiasco is a testament to how a company can overestimate the benefits of direct marketing. They tied up with Thrillist and Uber for a PR stunt involving 300 people that aimed to visit three bars, with the promise of getting their drinks served real fast. The event fell flat on its face when the app failed. The company blew $1800 over three hours while earning 1-star store reviews for the botched event.
Flowtab’s idea was to bump up membership figures directly because indirect marketing wasn’t working out for them. However, they learned the hard way that you need to proceed cautiously into new territory.
When budgeting for marketing dollars (or time), keep these points in mind:
- You must not underestimate the power of any communication channel. For example, after former Head of Web Spam at Google Matt Cutts denounced guest blogging as an SEO tactic, a lot of marketers are on the fence in adopting it, giving it very less importance in their overall content strategy. However, these case studies reveal that guest posting is as popular and effective as ever for SEO.
- It is important that you use all forms of communication with your audience because no two people think alike, use the same channels, or are convinced in the same way. Arm yourself with press kits, speaking engagements, email newsletters, and so on to ensure a well-rounded marketing mix.
- Understand your customer lifecycle to find out what kind of platforms and marketing materials you need, and then set the budget accordingly. If you are at the first stage and need to boost brand awareness, you could try a cost-effective but effort-intensive exercise, like Marriott did. They invited 8 travel bloggers for an all-expenses-paid trip to 14 Marriott properties in Florida and asked them to write about their experience. The bloggers wrote about 39 blog posts in all, which reached 1,043,400 unique visitors.
Moving towards a better marketing strategy
Apart from what we discussed here, there is a long list of mistakes that marketers are still making. It’s sad to see that companies blundering at an elementary level despite having the knowledge and resources to avoid them. With news like this, we can only pray that the future of marketing gets better!