The biggest and most common mistake I see in marketing is the “Throw it against the wall and see what sticks!” strategy.
As business leaders, we are exposed to a ton of information on a daily basis. We consume lots of information that we hope will help us propel our businesses forward. Whether we're cognizant of it or not, we’re also exposed to marketing and advertising each and every day outside of the office in the form of ads, commercials, billboards, emails, and calls.
So, it’s no wonder we start to wonder if we should try these tactics as well. We think that if other businesses are doing it, and spending money to do it, then logically, it must be worth the investment.
It seems like they’re getting in front of a larger audience and that it must be working.
But just because it works for them, doesn't mean it will work for your business. Here's how to tackle the influx of new ideas and decide if they are right for you.
1. Expose the SEO Elephant in the Room
Have you ever heard the parable of the blind men and the elephant? The short version goes something like this:
Six blind men come across an elephant for the first time. They take turns touching the elephant and describing it to the others.
The first man touches the tail and says an elephant is long and thin like a rope.
The second man touches the elephant’s side and proclaims that an elephant is like a wall.
The next man touches the tusk and exclaims that an elephant is like a spear...and so on.
The point of the story is to illustrate relativism: Making decisions or assertions out of context leads to misinterpretations and assumptions.
Let’s take a common assumption: "Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is going to help me get more business."
It’s true — good SEO practices can drive more qualified leads to your site. But SEO alone is not going to increase sales.
There are countless complex variables that go into an effective SEO strategy:
- What keywords do potential buyers use when they're searching?
- Which keywords are important for your business to get found for?
- What is the competitive landscape like for those keywords?
- Is your website not only strategically optimized for the keywords you are targeting, but helpful to the visitors that end up there?
- If someone connects with your web page, and they are a good prospect (i.e. you sell what they are looking for AND they have the capacity to purchase), can they easily connect with you?
- If they are a good prospect, but not ready to buy, how will you reconnect with them after they leave your site?
The list goes on from there. The point is that just optimizing for specific keywords won't directly translate to more sales.
It's one part of a bigger...elephant.
The same is true for other marketing tactics.
2. Erase Social Media Suppositions
Let’s look at another example: social media.
The expectation, based on its power as a marketing tactic today, is that if you publish interesting content on social media, you’ll gain followers and, in turn, word-of-mouth referrals.
As with SEO, a good social media presence can help you build your business by positioning you as a resource and an industry authority. But, again, the complete context involves other considerations:
- Which social media channels are your prospects visiting daily?
- Are you providing content they likely will be interested in?
- Is your content educational, inspiring, surprising, or fun, or is it promotional?
- Is your content original, or third party content? What is the proper mix?
- Does your social media strategy support your SEO strategy?
- Do you have mechanisms in place to drive visitors back to your site?
- Do you have mechanisms to collect contact information so that you can reach out directly?
The list can go on from here.
Your social media strategy will be different from any other business, and will need to be supported by a larger marketing vision.
3. Invest in Strategies, Not Tactics
Regardless of the channel or tactic, I see so many businesses embark on initiatives without thinking through the complete context and developing a strategy that will support success. Tactics without strategy are usually a waste of time, effort and money.
Unfortunately, a failed tactic might deter them to try it again. They decide that “it just doesn't work,” when it may be incredibly impactful as part of a viable strategy.
I hear this phrase, over and over again: “We already tried ________, and it just didn’t work for us." I’ve heard this about online marketing, as well as traditional marketing and advertising. I’ve seen many, many ads that clients spent thousands of dollars on fall flat, and can attribute them to lots of different issues.
Running an ad could have been a really good idea, but simple mistakes may have led to its downfall. For instance, not including contact information, crowding the ad, and not having a Call to Action are just as common as other, more “strategy bereft” issues, like not considering placement for design and content, not matching messaging with audience, and not having a Call to Action that provides tracking information and conversion, or not making the ad a piece of a larger campaign.
Without help from the greater forces of an overall strategy, some things just won't stick to the wall.
So, how do you avoid Throwing Things Against the Wall and make your efforts finally stick?
✅ Every single marketing initiative you take, needs to be a part of a larger strategy. This strategy will most always include a set of initiatives, all designed to support each other.
For example, to support a lead generation strategy and an objective of building industry authority, you might plan:
📖 A content offer that answers questions your target audience often struggles to answer
📣 A social media post in the channel where your audience frequents that invites visitors to get the content
🤠 An ad campaign for your social post that targets the specific demographics of your target, or even specific companies you’d like to reach
📲 A landing page promoting the content offer, with a form to collect user contact information and other relevant info useful for segmenting your database
💻 SEO research to ensure that you optimize your landing page and social post for targeted keywords
📬 An email nurturing workflow that will keep the communication with these targets active
🤖 Workflow branching criteria that customizes emails to recipients based on context, such as industry or past behavior (i.e. they visited a specific blog post in the past, so you want to invite them to read the second post in that series)
🏆 Lead scoring for your sales team so that they can connect with “hotter” prospects
This example is just one arm of a cohesive and comprehensive strategy for a single objective. But, you can see if you just picked one bullet point out of this list, you would never get the same result as when that one bullet is a part of a larger strategy.
Tired of not seeing results?
Everyone makes mistakes. But you deserve a comprehensive and effective marketing strategy.
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P.S. We're hosting a blogging event on October 29, 2018. And you're invited! The upcoming Lower Hudson Valley HubSpot User Group event is titled "Everything You Know About Blogging is a Lie." We're letting you in on some not-so-little secrets and breaking down common misconceptions around blogging, and how to do it right to earn much-deserved traffic and leads from your website.