“Take the long view.” “It’s all about the customer.” “You can’t over-market.” “Speed of execution is as important as quality of execution.”
Blah, blah, blah.
Marketing advice like the above is endless—and often contradictory. That’s because it’s easy to make excuses for ineffective marketing campaigns or to blame the business’ marketing team for poor results.Maybe you’re sick of hearing these conflicting (and often stupid) marketing axioms.
We are too! If you want to be successful in marketing, you need to formulate some guidelines for doing a little better than the average business. Here are five rules of good marketing:
#1 Always Be Testing. Always.
If you don’t test your marketing, you’re taking a big risk because you’ll never know whether your marketing efforts are truly generating results for your company. Maybe you’ve advertised on a TV station for years and never received an inquiry from a potential customer – maybe you’ve just launched a website with lots of great content, but only one visitor to your site and no sales. By all means, run every marketing campaign you think will yield results. But don’t just throw in the towel. Take an active interest in learning what kinds of promotions are generating the best results for your company. And take the time to answer and address the questions the testing yields.
#2 The Best Strategy isn’t Always the Most Successful.
As mentioned previously, people tend to blame marketers when things don’t go well. Most business people assume that if their company is doing well, its marketing is doing well. They may also think that if they understand what’s working for their competitors, they can duplicate the same success at their company. But this assumption is often misguided, because what’s “working” for one company may not work for others. What may be an effective marketing strategy for one company could turn into a failure for another company.
Don’t just sit back and blindly assume that what worked for your competitors will work for you. Figure out what actually works for your business. That doesn’t mean you have to go back and run test after test after test after test. If you really want to know what’s working for your company, analyze what customers are responding to most positively in your company’s marketing. Ask customers why they purchased from you, and be sure to ask yourself, too, as you evaluate your performance. Ask your customers for more specific comments about the effectiveness of your advertising, your product-review site or your contact-us form.
#3 Advertising Can’t Do Everything.
When you launch a new campaign, some people think you’ve got to run the same ad for months. They worry that you’ll run out of ideas, and they worry that you’ll start losing customers if you run out of ad space. I would agree that you have to try different things in your marketing. If you’re running TV ads, you may want to run print ads or use direct mail to drive traffic to the TV campaign. But don’t try to do everything at once. You don’t need to run two different television spots, one for print and one for online. Do your best, and make your best the best you can. If you do that, you’ll never fail in marketing.
#4 Keep Your Eye on the Goal.
Your marketing strategy should never just be a collection of tactics that “work for us.” Your marketing plan should be carefully designed to achieve the outcome you’re really looking for, not just the one you want. After all, if you’re only looking to achieve the goal of generating sales, then a massive advertising campaign may work–but it’ll also make the end goal meaningless, because sales may not increase. If you’re looking for new customers, a targeted marketing campaign can produce positive results. If you want more customers, it won’t work. If you’re looking to create an emotional connection between your company and your customers, it might be the answer. But it won’t be the only answer. You want your marketing to help you achieve your primary goal: to increase sales.
Remember, you need to build marketing strategies around your core business goals. If you’re running a big brick-and-mortar company, you can afford to run a huge, high-traffic ad campaign. But if you’re selling wine in a tiny store, it’s not in your long-term interest to run a huge ad campaign–especially if you’re only increasing your customer base a little. By doing so, you may fall into a spiral of advertising and marketing where you saturate your market and destroy your own ability to serve your customer base effectively.
Don’t be afraid to try something new in your marketing. If it works, great! If it doesn’t, no harm, no foul. It’s a learning process. If you aren’t getting the results you want, take a look at what is working well and what is not. Spend a little time improving on your weaker areas. And if your experience turns out to be that your weak areas are related to your strong ones–if your low sales are directly related to your low order-response rate–then you can eliminate your low response rate and increase your sales.
With the right marketing plan and the right kind of tactics, you can focus on the very thing that’s important for your business: getting more customers.