Over the years I have been privy to hundreds of marketing strategies by corporations, boards or organizations. The experience has been equally as daunting and confounding as it has been exciting and exhilarating. Having had a front row seat during this incredibly exciting time of marketing and advertising’s evolution into a digital world, I think it’s safe to share some observations on what I think are terribly bad habits held by many of today’s best marketing professionals.
5 Bad Habits Every Great Marketer Must Break
Ignoring Your Customers
There’s no excuse for not knowing precisely what your audience is thinking about your brand at any given moment. Maybe it’s dead silence, that’s another issue, but if your brand has a presence of any kind– listen to the conversation around your brand or within your industry.
You can do this a number of ways. Here are a few of them:
- Set up a Google Alert for any mention of your brand
- Use a social media management tool like Sprout Social or Trakur
- Conduct a Twitter and Instagram search for your brand name or hashtags related to your brand
Additionally, use the tools at your disposal today to identify customer or audience needs. What is missing from their world that your brand can fill? Identify this and you’ve won the war.
Replacing Market Research with Individual Experience
On countless occasions, I have witnessed entire marketing strategies formed around a handful of individuals making presumptions about their customers based on their own, unique interactions with their brand. The culprits are often CEOs or executives who are believe they have a deep understanding of their customer. In most cases, those working beneath them are hesitant to question their authority on the subject because doing so can trigger defensive and negative reactions from said executive. After all, an experience is an experience and who is anyone to question yours, let alone that of the guy who created the company or the woman who has been the Marketing Director for a decade?
The truth is, individual experiences can not be used to replace market research.
Instead, listen to the personal accounts and then suggest audience or market research such as a focus group or virtual survey. No need to question anyone’s experience, instead say something like, “that’s an amazing insight into the customer, I wonder what else we could learn if we conducted some market research or held a focus group?”
Using Stock Photography
There was a time and a place for canned stock photography and that time is over. Today, stock photography is a risk because today’s digitally-savvy consumers are hammered with a non stop stream of realistic content and videos on Facebook, YouTube, BuzzFeed or the NYTimes.com. And then your brand comes along in a news feed, an email or as a result of a Google search and your stock photography sticks out like a sore thumb, triggering all sorts of negative connotations including – I can’t trust this brand. Using stock photography repels a potential customer from accepting your brand as authentic and trustworthy. Avoid it at all costs.
If hiring a photographer is beyond your budget’s scope or unrealistic due to the nature of your business explore these stock photography sites offering more realistic photographs.
- Stocksy.com – all free, all realistic but professional photographs
- Flickr Creative Commons – all royalty free photographs from Flickr community
- Twenty20 – amazing, authentic photographs
Also, explore user-generated photography related to your brand Get More Information. For example, we found such success in sharing Instagram photos by visitors to the Hocking Hills to the Association’s Facebook page, that we created a printed calendar to be published in 2016 filled with user-generated photographs. The result has been even more photos posted across social networks of the Hocking Hills and incredibly happy and rewarded fans who will all receive free copies of the calendar featuring their photograph in print. See that case study here.
Paying Far Too Much Attention to the Competition
Industries are plagued by monotony in their marketing strategies. Try, for example, to find a unique value proposition or a truly unique piece of content on a website within any specific industry. Whether it’s legal, insurance, tourism or healthcare – chances are website after website looks and reads the same. If just one of them would cut through the clutter, leaving their competitors in the dust– the impact on their growth would be profound. Just because your competitors are doing it, doesn’t mean you should do it. In fact, you should probably do the opposite.
Not Trusting Chicken Little
In just about any organization I often witness an employee acting as Chicken Little, raising the red flag on an issue others may not be able to identify or see. These Chicken Littles, or Mavericks as we call them internally, know that something is amiss with an existing agency relationship. They may observe and point out that a traditional advertising agency hired to perform digital marketing services isn’t practicing something basic or fundamental. Or that a digital agency is charging far too much for something the could Google and do themselves.
Typically, in Cement’s case, we are often introduced into the mix by these Mavericks. Every Marketing Director and CEO needs to trust the mavericks within their organization who are pushing for positive change.
Do you have any bad habits to add? Do so in the comments.