Avoid these Marketing Mistakes that New Businesses Make – Part 2

Just because these mistakes are made by so many startup companies, doesn’t mean yours will follow the same path. Be mindful of the following branding and marketing pitfalls. Then, do everything in your power to avoid them.

STOP:
 If you haven’t read Part 1 of this list, you’ll definitely want to check that out first. You can find it here!

Okay… Now, you may proceed!

  1. Not Actively Seeking Prospects

The whole “If you build it, they will come” mentality doesn’t work in this situation. Cohesive branding, an awesome website, and social media involvement help to build a fundamental foundation for your marketing efforts.  Beyond that, you will still have to do a bit of legwork.

You already know what your ideal clients look like. Now, do a bit of real-world research. Find potential clients who could really benefit from your services. Then, skillfully approach them, using your marketing foundation to pave the way.

  1. Being Unreachable

If you want to be found, you’ve got to make it easy on people. You don’t want consumers to be so frustrated in the search that they give up entirely.  Search engine optimization will be a major asset to your business. Your site and all online content should be optimized with both buyer personas and search engines in mind. Blog writing and social media posts can also have a positive effect on your SEO. Post new content frequently and consistently.

  1. Not Developing a Convertible Website

Again, you want to make it easy on your website’s visitors. Rather than just having a bunch of plain text information, throw in some calls-to-action.  These CTAs will clearly direct your visitors along a path. While planning and setting up these CTAs, you’ll want to think about the buyer journey. It may be helpful to consult your sales funnel. The best part? These CTAs will ultimately convert visitors into leads.

  1. Not Having Attainable Goals

Setting your goals too high means setting yourself up for failure. On the other hand, goals that are too easily attainable means you’re only doing the bare minimum. Find a happy medium between the two extremes, and really push your brand to its full potential.

  1. Not Measuring Marketing Efforts

We alluded to this element earlier in the list. Without proper measurements, you have no sense of progress or failure. Among other factors, it’s important to know which steps you took, how effective they were, and how those steps could be improved upon next time.

Otherwise, you’re just spinning your wheels and going nowhere. This is where inbound marketing really makes a difference.  Inbound is all about being able to track your results to ensure that time, money, and other valuable resources are not being wasted.

If you’ve already made some of these errors, there’s still time to turn the situation around again.

Avoid these Marketing Mistakes that New Businesses Make – Part 1

We don’t have to tell you that starting a business requires a great deal of forethought and planning.  Unfortunately, many startups focus their attention solely on the basic preparation and setup of a company.

How many machines will I need? What will the store look like?  How much will I charge my customers?

As a result, these business owners tend to neglect any concerns of proper branding and marketing. Learn their mistakes now and find ways to avoid them in your own company!

 

  1. Not Fully Understanding your Target Audience

You’ve got a product or service to provide, but do you have an ideal clientele in mind? If your answer is, “I suppose, it’s anyone who will buy from me,” you need to elaborate further.

This first piece is critical and will set the tone for everything that follows, from marketing to product/service development to business hours. Developing customer personas will encourage you to define your perfect clients. This, in turn, will allow you to better target those people.

  1. Choosing a Regrettable Brand Name

Most companies spend months debating and perfecting their brand names. This is for a good reason.  Once you’ve decided on a name and have begun branding yourself under that title, it’s incredibly difficult to change.

Customers and potential clients alike recognize you by this brand name. Changing the title down the road could result in a loss of business. Furthermore, you’re listed under this name on all important documents and any signage you may have. For assistance, check out these 7 tips to Finding the Right Name for Your Business!

  1. Using an Unsuitable Logo

Elements of your logo will be reflected throughout the entire brand design.  For consumers, this image will serve as a visual representation of your company, your products/services, and the quality you provide.  While logos can be easier to modify than a brand name, it’s not always the best idea.  Really put some thought into the image you send out to the world. To help you, we’ve compiled these 7 Awesome Tips for Logo Design!

 

  1. Halfway Investing in Marketing

Taking shortcuts will get you nowhere. If you’re looking to grow your business, you’ll need an actual marketing plan.  Oftentimes, people like to pick and choose certain items from a proposed marketing plan.  This is acceptable at times, but it is not recommended.

If you’ve chosen to do business with a marketing firm or advertising agency, you’re hiring them for their expert opinion on the matter.  These people have experience in the area and know what it takes to get you where you want to be. Trust their judgment.

  1. Being Inconsistent in your Approach

When you’re just beginning a business, consistency can be one of the most significant determinants of future marketing success. Be consistent in everything you do. In all branding components, in all marketing efforts, and in measuring those efforts, you’ve got to be consistent.

Stay tuned to our blog to find out the last 5 branding and marketing mistakes that most startup businesses make!

Sales-Driven vs. Marketing-Driven Companies: Which Approach is Best for your Business?

As a business owner or key decision maker for a company, there are several choices you’ll be required to make.  When it comes to looking toward the future and creating a plan for business growth, there are two types of basic approaches you can take.  These are the sales approach and the marketing approach.

Ideally, your company would be able to allocate resources to developing both approaches, allowing the two to work hand-in-hand.  Unfortunately, that is rarely the case.  Constraints in time and finances often force brands to choose one approach or the other.

For this reason, it’s important that your business choose the growth strategy best suited for its specific needs.  We’ve worked to define the characteristics of each approach in hopes of making this decision as easy as possible for you.

The Sales Approach

  • Drives resources in hopes of achieving maximum short-term results
  • Strives to acquire individual sales
  • Focuses on prospects individually, seeing each one as either a successful sale or a failure
  • Tries to convince consumer to buy product/service by emphasizing how it can help him/her
  • Strong desire to close sales often causes company to lower prices or give buying incentives, which can result in a short-term sales increase (ultimately harms, rather than helps, the business)

The Marketing Approach

  • Focuses more on long-term results and sustainability
  • Strives to accomplish the bigger picture goal
  • Looks at target audience as a whole, allowing company to reach numerous prospects at once
  • Learns more about target audience’s needs, positions product/service accordingly, and gently encourages consumers to buy
  • Aims to provide superior value and develop a lasting relationship with consumers so that they keep coming back for more

We hope this information allows you to choose the best route for your business.  Regardless of which direction you choose, it’s crucial that your approach begins with a well-developed sales funnel.

How Much Should my Company Spend on Rebranding/Marketing/Advertising?

Money

Whether you’re looking to rebrand your business, develop a comprehensive marketing plan, or start an advertising campaign, the answer to this question is the same: it depends on your goals.

Anytime we sit down with a prospective client, we begin by learning their goals.  Where is your business now, and where do you want to be?  From there, we work to create a custom plan specifically designed with your company in mind.  Without first understanding your goals, taking you on as a client would be pointless.

As with almost anything in life, what you get out of marketing is directly related to what you put into it.  We’re not just talking about monetary value here.  Aside from the financial cost, there’s a great deal of planning and strategic thinking that should go into your branding efforts.  A properly executed plan can be effective without spending a lot of money.  It’s all about how you allocate your resources.

Sure, any marketing firm could easily take your money and proceed to spit out a new website, some photography, and a few printed pieces.  What good would this do in the end?  These are simply parts of a bigger picture.  Without a cohesive plan to back up these deliverables, you’re no better off than when you began.  Blindly throwing money at a problem and hoping that something sticks is not a solution; it’s a waste of resources.

With that being said, you were probably expecting to see some actual numbers pop up in this post.  If so, this part is for you!  It’s important to note that your budget will be dependent upon several factors, including industry type, company size, and stage of development.

The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends that companies spend 7 to 8 percent of annual revenue on marketing.  This assumes that your company is a small business with less than $5 million in annual revenue and margins around 10 to 12 percent.  The budget accounts for both brand development and business promotion costs.

As for larger companies, the figures become a little more unclear.  Specifics aren’t nearly as easy to define.  Again, it’s important to note that the branding, marketing, and advertising budgets of companies will vary based on several factors.

 

 

A Breakdown of Brand Equity: What is my Brand Worth?

Do you remember the popular “Pepsi Challenge”? In this test, Pepsi pitted its own brown, carbonated liquid against Coca-Cola’s equally brown and carbonated liquid to see which one consumers preferred. The beverages were poured into unmarked glasses, and participants were asked to choose their favorite based on taste alone.

This shouldn’t call for a spoiler alert: most people chose Pepsi. Otherwise, that would have made a terrible advertising campaign for the company.

Pepsi’s slogan at the time was “People who let their taste decide pick Pepsi.” If that’s true, then wouldn’t most all consumers want to buy the better tasting drink?  How is Coca-Cola still the best selling and most recognizable soft drink on the market?

This has a lot to do with Coke’s brand equity. Much like cash, inventory, equipment, or a secret recipe, brand equity is actually a valuable asset for your company. This brand equity is dependent upon several factors, including the following:

  • Brand promise
  • The company’s reputation
  • The quality of products/services provided
  • Personality of the brand
  • Brand positioning in the minds of consumers (as compared to other industry brands)

To consumers, your brand will eventually become a mental representation of these elements. They’ll hear your brand name or see your logo and automatically associate that with a certain standard. This perceived standard will most definitely affect the consumers’ decision to either buy or not buy your products/services.

Coca-Cola’s brand equity has been achieved through a variety of means. While Coke’s marketing tactics have often leaned toward the more traditional route, the business has recently begun to place a strong emphasis on inbound marketing.

Coke sees the significance of staying current in an ever-changing world and connecting with an audience on its terms.  This lesson is especially important for smaller companies with fewer marketing dollars and less brand equity. Inbound marketing often allows businesses to generate a greater return on investment (or get more bang for their buck, so to speak).

Is Television Advertising Effective by Today’s Standards?

Let’s suppose we ask you to think back to the last time you watched television. What is one of the commercials you remember seeing? We’ll go ahead and predict that the conversation might follow one of these four paths:

  • “I can’t remember.”
  • “I’m not sure, but I really like the one where the kid is dressed like a cowboy and rides a big dog.”  Do you know what the commercial was advertising?  “No.”
  • “I record all of my shows and skip past the commercials.”
  • “I don’t really watch television.”  What do you watch?  “Well, I mostly just use Netflix, Hulu, and ProjectFree.TV.”

If you were actually able to recall a commercial that played the last time you watched TV, we applaud you.  If you also remembered what the commercial was advertising, that’s even more impressive. You are a rare breed, my friend!

For the rest of us, we’ve learned to tune out that sort of marketing message. Technology has even adapted to help us in this task.  With the introduction of TiVo came the ability to pause, record, and skip anything on television. Naturally, commercials were the first to be lost.  Netflix and other online viewing services have also provided alternatives for avoiding these commercials.

You may say, “Well, what about Super Bowl commercials?”  It’s true; brands are still spending millions of dollars on these prime-time spots. The question is: Are these TV ads as effective as they were even a decade ago?  If they were, then advertisers wouldn’t be releasing their commercials on the Internet days in advance of the big game.

That’s not to say that there’s no place for traditional marketing. A healthy mix of the two methods can be a good thing at times. Yet, it’s important to note the measurability and cost effectiveness of inbound marketing as opposed to traditional means.

How do you feel about traditional TV advertisements? Are these commercials mostly informational and entertaining, or are they more of a nuisance?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

7 Questions to Ask When Developing your Own Brand Promise

A company’s brand promise is much like its value proposition. These two elements work together to invoke an emotional response within the consumer.  When people hear your brand name or see your logo, how does it make them feel? Depending on your unique brand, consumer emotions may range from excitement to comfort to optimism.

Let’s take the automobile industry for example. What’s the difference between Mercedes, Ford, and Volvo? They all make the same basic type of product, right? Yet, each brand has its own promise and value proposition.

Mercedes often serves as a status symbol and sends the message of being prestigious. Ford is all about durability and dependability, whereas Volvo focuses on safety.

What does your brand say to the world?  Here are 7 questions to ask yourself when developing your own brand promise:

  • Why would consumers be in the market for this product/service?  (What need led them to
    this point?)
  • What qualities or characteristics do people look for in this type of product/service?
  • What would I, myself, look for in a business providing this type of product/service?
  • What does my company value most in terms of providing a good product/service?
  • What makes my company different from competitors?
  • How can I assure consumers that my company is the right choice?
  • How do I want people to feel when they think of my brand?

Brand promise is important because it sets the tone for customer experience.  Through this promise, consumers know what to expect when doing business with your company.  With that being said, it’s imperative that your brand be able to deliver in terms of this guarantee.  Don’t make promises you can’t keep!

We hope this helps illustrate the significance of your company’s brand promise in growing business.

How Do I Get my Website Noticed? 5 Helpful Tips for Marketing your Company’s Website

You’ve developed a truly awesome website, complete with valuable content, visually appealing design, and all the SEO tricks in the book. Somehow, you still think the number of qualified prospects visiting the site should be higher. What can you do?

The first step should be to check out these two blogs posts:

If you’ve marked off every item in those lists, there are a few more helpful actions you can take:

 

  • Display your domain name on everything you do. Every traditional marketing piece you put out should have the domain listed somewhere. This includes flyers, brochures, signage, postcards, TV commercials, radio advertisements, etc. The same goes for anything that leaves your desk – business cards, letterhead, email signatures, and so on. Don’t forget about inbound marketing areas! Each of your social media pages should prominently feature your website’s domain, preferably with a direct link to that web address.
  • Interact in relevant online communities. Find outside articles, blog posts, and forums that are related to your business.  Then, start commenting in these places.Be sure to add your name, position, company name, and web address somewhere in the comment.
  • Create content for other related blogs. Expand your audience by reaching out to some well-known blogs within your niche.  There have to be blogs out there that receive more traffic than yours.Use their readership to your advantage.  Writing guest blog posts for these places is a great way to generate additional traffic. Remember to include a short blurb about yourself at the end of each blog post written for outside sources. This blurb should include your name, position, company name, web address, etc.
  • Hold competitions that require contestants to visit your website.  For an example of this, check out what Innovations Branding House did for the launch of our new website!
  • Send out email newsletters. In these newsletters, you should find ways to link back to your website.  If the content in these emails is well written and intriguing, readers will gladly click on the links.

Continue optimizing your site by discovering the five things every website needs to start generating business leads.