Over the years we have seen a lot of small businesses decide that marketing or building a brand was how they were going to start getting more customers. It is exciting when I talk to these businesses in this phase of their business growth. The problem though is that although these businesses are ready to get serious about looking into marketing their company, they really have no idea what they are getting into. Here are a few mistakes we see small companies make time and time again.
- Lack of understanding of Marketing or Brand Building. Although companies what to be the next Nike, Startbucks or Coca-Cola, they have no idea what it took these companies to get where they are today. So many companies see a competitor doing a tri-fold, web site or direct mailer and say, well I had better start doing that too. In order to stand out from the competition you actually want to go places and do things that your competitors aren't doing. Building a brand is all about setting you apart from your competitors, not by doing the same thing. We recommend either read up on this topic or look for a professional with the heart of a teacher who will hold your hand until you understand this stuff.
- Lack of a Marketing Budget. It never fails every time we talk to a prospect we ask them what their budget is, and inevitably they say "We don't have a budget". I know many people do not like to share there budget because they are afraid the marketing person will want to use every last dollar. The real truth though is that a expert marketing person should not just do a project because you want them to do it. An expert should ask you what you are trying to accomplish and then offer solutions to reach the goals your are setting. If you do not feel comfortable sharing your exact budget offer a range $1500-$2000, $5000-$10000- this will help the marketing professional can get a feel for what will work for the price range you are talking about. Keep in mind spending $10,000 annually is a normal starting price for professional branding or marketing. Some companies like to keep it focused on their income so they devote 10% of their income to marketing. The key is to set up an annual budget and know that this is an investment in your company, just make it a part of doing business.
- Rampant Inconsistency. Building a brand is simple, just keep your marketing constant across all mediums (business cards, web site, brochures, vehicle wraps, signage, etc.). This includes using the same 3 fonts for all your marketing efforts and the same colors. This is where hiring an expert helps. So often a company hires a web designer for their web site, a graphic designer for their business cards, logo and brochures, a trade show company to do their trade show booth design. At the end of the day each of these items looks like several different companies. This is where a brand management firm comes in. Hire a firm like this to help you manage your brands consistency. By doing this you will save money by not having to redo marketing items over and over again.
- Boredom or Lack of Commitment. I see this so often with small companies, they get bored and feel like they need a change. I know companies that have changed their logo 3 times in 5 years. The problem here is you are confusing your target audience as to what you offer of who you are. The money you are spending on redoing the logo could have been more wisely spent on a new direct mail campaign or updating your web site. Actually web sites are a perfect example of this. People change the design of their site pretty frequently. This is not a bad idea if the goal is to improve usability for the customer or create a stronger lead generation system, but more times than not the site change is just because the business got tired of the look and feel. Keep in mind just because you see it everyday and are becoming tired of the new design, your prospects or clients are just getting used to your site since they do not view it everyday like you may. The point here is it is not all about you, everything revolves around your client/prospects and their needs. If the change is not to make their life better, DON'T DO IT!
- Impatience. Anytime you decide to start a marketing campaign, you must know, success is not something that is going to happen over night. Building a brand is something that happens over time and through regular marketing efforts each year. Commit to the fact that, this campaign is the first step in an ongoing process that will improve and become more successful over time, will set you up for better results from your marketing efforts. Persistence is the key to success. Marketing is an ongoing effort. The reason for that is you learn so much about the strengths and weaknesses of a campaign only after you put it out there for your prospects and clients to use. Let's say you send a 4 postcards over a year. At the end of the year, figure out how many sales this campaign got. Where the leads this campaign produced quality or just more unqualified prospects. Then ask yourself- what could we do better next year? Make a few changes and send out another campaign. You see markeitng and branding is part Art and part Science. If you do not apply the things you learned from this campaign to your next campaign than the money invested was for nothing. It is much easier to keep the ball rolling once you start so continue to improve your campaigns and you will sart to build the next Nike or Starbuck.
on all your future marketign efforts!