5 Common Marketing Mistakes

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Sales are down…it’s Marketing’s fault. We’ve got a new product to launch…call Marketing. Which trade shows should should we be attending?…ask Marketing. These leads are garbage…talk to Marketing. I need more brochures…you know…call Marketing.

Many companies still don’t get Marketing. Leaders within those organizations believe that they can “will” their growth by rolling up their sales sleeves and making more calls. They have failed to recognize how the buying process has changed. The buyers terrain has become more difficult to maneuver across, as the volume of information –  compliments of the internet –  has created a landslide of material.  Some useful, some not.

As a half-hearted act of understanding the role of Marketing, some businesses have taken the step to create a Marketing department. Unfortunately this effort lacks commitment and results in a “one-foot-in, one-foot-out” mentality. Companies that try to tip-toe into Marketing experience many failures. The 5 common mistakes include:

1. Bad hires. Not wanting to fully commit, a company will bring in a very junior marketer who may in fact have experience with only one or two areas of marketing. As a result, instead of getting a marketing leader, the company ends up with someone who knows how to write copy, or send emails, or coordinate trade shows. Taking the cheap way out relative to talent will limit positive results in many cases.  When results do not match expectations the leader chalks it up to “Marketing mumbo-jumbo”.
2. Sales directing Marketing’s activities. Sales-driven cultures can negatively impact a new marketing organization’s success. If Sales dictates the marketing needs of the company you could be in for rough waters. Marketing and Sales should work together to develop a growth plan for the business. Marketing should focus on creating engagements with the target audience that result in lead generation, and Sales should focus on closing those leads.
3. Poor resource allocation. Many companies prefer to allocate their dollars on tangible efforts. A new logo, new sales collateral, or trade show booths. However, if the company’s brand hasn’t been defined or developed, the dollars spent in those other areas will be wasted. A successful Marketing team will provide the focus and discipline required to wrestle with the tougher, more difficult issues, like those having to do with the company’s brand, value proposition, and identity.  Budgeting and allocating dollars to these initiatives, as well as, those to gather market insights, complete a SWOT analysis and research case studies are critical to building the company’s brand leading to growth.
4. Low, or no, focus on content development. Today we know that an average buyer consumes 5 – 7 pieces of content before making a decision. Once the content is consumed, the buyer has moved through 40 – 70% of the buying process. Therefore, content is king. In the absence of high-quality, fresh content, the prospective buyer will go elsewhere to find what they need potentially eliminating  your business from consideration. When developing content, think broadly, and remember, great content is about the value it brings to the consumer of the content, not about how great it makes you look.
5. No Marketing dashboard. Marketing can absolutely show an ROI. By setting up and maintaining a marketing dashboard a business can monitor and measure key metrics to determine exactly how Marketing is impacting the business. How many leads per month, how many convert to appointments, how many sold, and the length of time it takes to close a sale are all key metrics a business should monitor. Having this level of insight will provide greater credibility and validation to the value the Marketing organization is delivering to the business.

3 C’s of Innovation

innovate

The late Steve Jobs said “innovation distinguishes a leader from a follower”. While certainly a simple statement, Jobs struck the core of what makes innovation work…the leader. But it’s not the leader who is innovating yet instead creating and leading the culture of innovation that exists within the business. If a company is not innovating then a quick look at the leader will spotlight the reasons why.

A recent article appearing in Forbes magazine showcased the differences between companies on the “cutting edge” versus those that were surviving or just getting by. In every case reviewed, it boiled down to the leader. It was the leader that fostered a culture of innovation. The leader encouraged, and in many cases pushed, their teams to innovate…to stretch the boundaries. The leader’s ability to effectively instill this type of culture depends on 3 C’s: Collaboration, Courage, and Confidence.

Leaders of innovative companies possess a strong collaboration trait. They understand that developing the winning recipe requires several minds working together – not just their own. While perhaps one of the most brilliant innovators ever, Steve Jobs understood that he still needed his engineers, marketers, and other stakeholders to bring his dream to life. The same can be said of other great innovation leaders from Scott Cook of Intuit, to Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Fred Smith of FedX. All of these leaders knew that to bring their vision, idea, and dream to life required input from other people to refine and build their idea.  That’s collaboration.

Courage is another characteristic of strong innovative leaders. It takes courage to think and act differently. We can all dream big dreams. Many companies are developing their BHAGs – Big Hairy Audacious Goals – but few will be able to realize them. The challenge with achieving your BHAG is the tremendous amount of courage required to move toward fulfillment. Somewhere in grade school we begin to lose our ability to dream, and worse our belief that anything is possible. While in school we get put into boxes, and typecast, creating our first experience with the concept of “settling”. We begin to believe in ceilings. There is a cap to how far we can go, how much we can do, and big we can dream. Great innovative leaders have the courage to be bold and tackle their BHAGs head on.

The final trait required of all great innovators is confidence. Strong, effective, successful leaders with proven innovation track records are enormously confident. Why is Confidence a necessity for the leader leading innovation? For many leaders they either believe they are the only ones capable of generating a successful idea or they are intimidated by those that have good ideas and feel threatened that their idea will outshine them. Confident leaders know that what is truly important is winning or achieving their BHAG. They spend little to no time worrying about where the ideas come from that help in the successful attainment of the BHAG.

It takes a confident leader, with a passion for collaboration, and a fair amount of courage to develop and lead a culture of innovation. Does your organization innovate? What was the last new innovation you placed in the market? Whose idea was it? Where did it start and how many people were involved in its development? If you’re looking to assess an organizations ability to innovate ask the leader of that organization those questions and see how he or she replies. Their responses may surprise you.