Making mistakes in business is inevitable — particularly with marketing, where there is a lot of trial and error or A/B testing to determine what works in a given market. But small companies face additional challenges: They have a smaller margin of error and not much time to mess around and figure out what works.
Here are some common mistakes businesses make in the marketing world, along with some tips to help you avoid making the same mistakes yourself.
- Not having (or following) a marketing plan
Without a marketing plan, you don’t have a defined strategy. It’s like flying blind. Any financial planner will tell you that you have to plan for the future, set growth goals, and know the budget you have to work with. The message is the same for marketing: It’s important to develop a marketing plan within a predefined budget and stick to it throughout the year in order to reach your growth goals.
- Trying to directly compete with your competitors
While it’s necessary to understand the market you’re in and to be aware of what your competitors are doing within that market, trying to compete directly with them quickly leads to a race to the bottom. It saturates the market, making it difficult to separate yourself from the competition. Instead of focusing on what the competition is doing, focus on differentiating yourself from that competition. Create marketing collateral that highlights what your business does well and what additional goods and services you provide. This will help lift your brand above the fray.
- Not setting measurable goals (KPIs) and tracking your results
If you aren’t tracking your results, you have no way of knowing what’s working — it’s as simple as that. With Google Analytics, trackable phone numbers, pay-per-click ads, and word-of-mouth referrals, tracking marketing results is easy. But if you’re not doing it, you’re wasting your marketing budget.
- Spending too much money or time on one tactic (not diversifying)
While you don’t want to put your marketing dollars in too many buckets and spread yourself too thin, you don’t want to put them in only one either. Utilizing multiple marketing tactics across multiple verticals (digital, print, grassroots outreach, etc.) gives you a better chance of reaching a higher number of prospects. One single tactic will not be able to reach 100% of the prospects in your market.
- Being impatient
If you’re looking for a “silver bullet” in marketing — one idea that will knock all others out of the park and will work every time — you won’t find it. Marketing takes time; you will not see overnight results. If you think of marketing like a pyramid, realize that all of the different marketing tactics you do build on each other to support your overall brand and presence in your market, and over time these tactics will lead to results.
- Not marketing to existing customers
You’ve spent a lot of marketing dollars working to bring in customers the first time, making them aware of your product and services. Then what? It’s important that you not forget about these existing customers when moving on to other new customers. You’ve already done the grunt work to get them in to your business the first time, so maintaining that existing relationship — one that often goes forgotten or neglected — is extremely important.
- Not identifying your target market
It’s difficult to remember at times that as the business owner, you are not necessarily the target audience, and prospective patients aren’t necessarily the people located near your business. Some customers are willing to make the drive if they know they’ll be receiving personalized and quality care.
- Being afraid to test marketing tactics (i.e., sitting in analysis paralysis!)
You don’t know until you try! This doesn’t mean you should try every marketing tactic under the sun, but the world of marketing is constantly changing, so you need to be willing to change your tactics in order to keep up and stay relevant.
- Not preparing your team for scheduled marketing
If you have an upcoming marketing event, be sure that everyone on your team is aware of the event details and knows what to expect from callers with questions, or from people coming in and asking about it. Doing this in advance will give you time to schedule training for your staff if need be.
- Not pursuing referrals
If someone you trust — whether that’s a friend, a family member, or a physician — refers you to a health care professional, you are most likely to reach out to them rather than randomly picking someone out of the phone book. Not only that, reaching out to physicians gives you the opportunity to educate. Not all physicians are aware that hearing loss is associated with multiple medical conditions. Providing this knowledge can help keep you top of mind with them when their patients are in need of a referral.