Is your business implementing a marketing effort or a marketing strategy? I was inspired to write this column after continuing to see a pattern in what I would classify as the top five band-aids companies use with the belief that their sales will skyrocket or when a desperate need for sales exists. Using a "Band-Aid" to resolve any type of a problem is an American idiom for a temporary solution or something that seems to be a solution, but has no real effect.
If you are frustrated by a lack of results or performance from your marketing efforts, you could be using a band-aid marketing approach. I witness this literally everyday as I help companies shift out of knee-jerk and transactional thinking to strategic operational thinking.
1. One Hit Blunder: You place a single advertisement or send out a single postcard and then you are disappointed by a total lack of response. Several factors play into why this simply doesn't work. First, when you only commit to one placement or mailing, you are likely going to pack it with too much information, causing information overload and no real "hook" to draw the prospect in. Second, in this age of information overload, it now takes at least 12 touches or more to even begin to gain share of mind or awareness.
2. Transaction Distraction: You need more sales and you need them now, so you develop a "special offer" or "deal" to try to generate fast sales. You are so focused on making transactions with your customers, you fail to consider the relationship. Most often, this transaction mentality is what has gotten you in the desperate need for sales anyway.
3. Phone Call Free-For-All: You have a sales team and it's getting towards the end-of-the-month quota time and the numbers aren’t gelling. The directive is to get on the phone and make some calls. In our CRISP Principle study, growth companies with commissioned or salaried sales people did not rely on telemarketing and cold calling for sales. As a matter of fact, it was not even a primary directive. Engagement and ongoing service, solutions and relationship-building initiatives were what was considered paramount.
4. SEO Go-Go: There is no doubt about it. Internet presence and being found on the Internet is essential to a business' success. Research we are conducting is validating that 6 out of 10 searchers will narrow their preference to two or three companies or product choices, and 2 out of 10 will narrow their choice to a specific company or product. However, relying entirely on search engine optimization (SEO) as your sole source of attracting business is misguided thinking. Worse yet, if you think it is going to bring immediate calls, inquiries and visitors the minute you get it rolling or ramp it up, you are mistaken. Optimization takes time to elevate your presence in the rankings. There is no magic click and its done. Like any other marketing initiative, there is strategy building and momentum building that is involved.
5. Market Reach Breach: You have a new product or service offering that you want to get out to the masses of likely buyers, so you focus your entire attention on a prospect list and new sales generation, ignoring your existing customer base and the ability to strengthen an already established relationship. Unless the offering is targeting an entirely new segment, you are remiss to not first allow your customer base a sneak peak with preferred advantages as a reward for being a customer.
When it comes to a band-aid marketing approach, you are not really addressing the underlying cause of the lack of inflowing business in the first place. Stop viewing marketing as only necessary when you need business. If this is your mentality, you are failing to see it for what it should be as operationally a part of your ongoing business strategy. When you do finally "get it," you will see a shift with customers and sales flowing in on an ongoing basis. Best of all, it feels effortless because it is a habit of best practices strategically linked together versus a series of knee-jerk "have to do's" or "gotta try" moves out of a desperation for sales and profits.
Sherré DeMao is author of the nationally acclaimed books, 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times, www.50marketingsecrets.com, and Me, Myself & Inc., www.memyselfandinc.com, Her column seeks to help business owners build and grow sustainable enterprises and businesses with economic value and preference in the marketplace.