This is part 2 of the article that lists common Marketing misconceptions and how they negatively impact a business.
Here are five more assumptions that are worth clarifying:
I can gain market share with a much smaller budget than competition
This statement implies two things: your competition is wasting a big portion of their marketing dollars on initiatives that don’t resonate with the customers. Or, your marketing service providers do great work for much less than the average market price.
And then there is also the inability to track how much money is actually spent on marketing.
In reality, if you are spending much less than the competition your are probably not making any market share gains. You might have one competitor that’s overspending, but in my experience you don’s pose a serious competitive threat unless your marketing budget is in same ballpark with your competition.
Sales are down so we have to cut the marketing budget
I am sure a lot of you marketers have faced this scenario during your career. When sales are bad the first instinct is to consider cutting the marketing budget.
The appropriate strategy is to first identify the reason why sales numbers are low, and look for ways to correct that trend.
In many cases Marketing is actually part of the solution, and therefore the department that needs a budget boost.
Let’s assume sales are down because of the overall economic downturn, which is affecting your competitors as well. Everybody is cutting their marketing budgets, and the level of “noise” in the category is reduced to a minimum.
A boost to your Marketing budget during this difficult times may result in great opportunities to make your brand more visible.
Another reason sales are down might be because your product line needs updating. Marketing can fix that as well.
Maybe consumer behavior is changing and your company is not taking advantage. Marketing can help.
To summarize, management should take a look at the big picture before cutting marketing costs. The remedy might actually have Marketing written all over it.
My product offering has become a commodity and therefore impossible to differentiate
Many executives I interact with understand the benefits of differentiating their brand from competition. However many believe that, since consumers perceive most products as commodities, differentiation is impossible to achieve.
Marketing in well-established mature markets is facing the “differentiation” challenge: setting a brand apart in categories where good product quality is a must (not a competitive advantage), and innovation is hard to deliver and easy to imitate.
The solution is simple and starts with acknowledging a simple fact: it is the brand that needs differentiation, not the product. Therefore there are many other strategies that can be employed to differentiate even a commodity.
This brand positioning tutorial page lists and explains the most commonly used.
Doing everything in house is cheaper than hiring outside help
A recent survey conducted by American Express Canada shows that “ 84% of small business owners say branding is important to overall business success, and only 14% hire third-party experts to help with branding. 29% said they had developed their brands completely on their own.”
I am not surprised by the results, and I can only speculate on the reasons: ridiculously high agency rates, the desire to have full control over the creative process, and the ability to make changes faster.
Instead of looking for outside help many companies hire a “Marketing person” that wears many hats: graphic designer, social media specialist, e-mail marketer, etc.
While this strategy might work for some companies, doing everything in house might prove more costly in the long run. While the financial cost might be lower, the real drawbacks are (longer) execution time and the quality of work.
In a field where missing a deadline can ruin a year worth of work and where first impression counts, hiring independent help might be wiser.
Outside specialists bring focus to the project at hand (faster execution time), an original point of view (outside the company culture), more creativity and better work quality.
No marketer can be a specialist in everything, unless the company is willing to cut corners on how it presents itself to the world.
More frequent communication with customers leads to better engagement
Internal and external communication is a key Marketing function. Striking the right balance between quality and frequency of the message being communicated requires careful consideration.
There is a common belief that the more we communicate with our customers, the more “engaged” they will become.
When I started this blog 3 years ago I read a lot of expert opinions on how often I should post. The conclusion seemed to be that I should post as frequently as possible, ideally daily.
Besides the fact that I don’t have the time and creativity to write a daily post, the real question I have for the experts is: what if I don’t have anything to say that day?
This is the question I ask myself every time a send out a communication piece: is this really beneficial to my audience? Will they learn something from it?
So my answer to the question “how often should I communicate with my customers?” is “Whenever you have something meaningful to say.”
Of course, the nature of your business plays a big role in communication frequency: an online store requires more frequent communication than a B2B company that sells diesel engines.
Increasing the frequency of communication should not be your marketing goal. Constantly improving content quality should.