Yes, marketing has changed, but so has virtually every other aspect of conducting business. So what’s new? Putting marketing into a different perspective. There are no absolutes, but what is essential is a commitment to agility, innovation and serving the vastly different needs of every customer. That’s a tall order, but it can be accomplished by avoiding these seven marketing sins.
7 Deadly Marketing Sins
- Not investing in relationships. In his book “The Four Agreements,” Michael Ruiz advises readers to be impeccable with their word, not to take anything personally, not to make assumptions and to always do their best. This is sage advice, especially for marketing and sales professionals. Relationships are built on trust. So following up and following through are the foundation that customers and others seek and expect.
- Operating in a staid, inflexible, command-and-control environment. Companies with this type of culture are rules-based, where value and authority come from the top-down, and where creativity is under-appreciated or even scorned. A more effective approach is to establish a business culture that promotes and rewards agility, flexibility and innovation. Go the extra step to say “yes” to customers and abandon the less important “company policy” mindset.
- Not operating with a customer-centric focus. Great marketers know that the customer should be at the center of marketing design and delivery. This begins with developing a rich understanding of target market’s unique needs, wants and pain points. With this information, marketers can target the right customer with the right message through the appropriate channel and at the ideal time. But it isn’t enough for marketers to adopt this mindset. To be successful, the entire organization needs to operate with an unwavering customer-centric approach.
- Relying on only one way to market the company’s products or services. The old “Four Ps of Marketing” (promotion, product, price, place) still has value, but this model is not the only game in town. Keep your eye on the future. Ask questions and collect information from internal and external sources. Listen. Ask more questions and uncover new needs, gaps and better ways to brand and position your products and services.
- Marketing without a plan. Operating without a marketing plan is like throwing money into the street. Without careful research, analysis and planning, you’ll be wasting precious financial and human resources. Without a plan, you use low-converting mediums and messages that don’t connect with the target audience. Carefully designed marketing plans make achieving overall business objectives easier and ensure that every dollar is well-spent to produce the best possible results.
- Not measuring results. With all of the technology platforms available, it’s important to find the right tools to quantify results. Keep in mind that increased revenue is not the only metric to track. Google Analytics, CRM systems and sophisticated data analytics software all provide valuable information to companies that use them. Whether it’s click-throughs, requests for additional information, sign-ups for newsletters or interest in scheduling appointments with sales reps, determine the critical metrics that correspond to your objectives. Then track them and adjust programs accordingly.
- Making marketing the stepchild. While most business units have operating plans and budgets, marketing often falls to chance. Those responsible for marketing are juggling lots of priorities and are on overload. In some cases, they might not have the expertise to develop a proactive plan that leverages opportunities in the marketplace. They have more of a “wing it” attitude that results in initiatives falling through the cracks, programs being under-funded and team members not knowing what their responsibilities are and when they should be completed. A corollary to this sin is what we call end-to-end marketing in which new programs are launched only when something doesn’t work. If you don’t implement programs concurrently, you can waste valuable time and resources. Instead, test, test, test. Run multiple pilot programs at once. Fine tune and try again for maximum results.
Take Action Against Marketing Sins
As marketing costs and mediums rise, CEOs demand a return on their investment and seek increased accountability from their marketing teams. If you are committing any of these (or other) marketing sins, it is possible to find the path back to redemption. The first step is to admit wrongdoing. This doesn’t mean a corporate-wide confession for any marketing transgression. Instead, take an honest look at your marketing initiatives and identify where programs are falling down. Then make a plan, gather the support you need and take definitive action to avoid committing further marketing sins.