At one point or another you’ve probably asked yourself: “How can I improve my marketing skills?” Maybe not in those exact words (that’s kinda weird), but you’ve definitely wondered if you could be working harder or smarter to build your brand.
The answer is yes, of course. Everyone could. And a good way to start is learning which strategies to avoid. Sounds complicated? Just bear with us.
There’s a reason Socrates, Plato, and Descartes aren’t well known for their social posts, email campaigns, and out-of-home work. (Besides the fact that they lived roughly a million years before electricity.) It’s because content isn’t a philosophy; it’s a tactic. Too often, when coming up with marketing strategies, these two things get confused.
While there are many viable tactics that play an important role in growing a brand, what’s really important are the philosophies behind the tactics. Here, we’re going to discuss some marketing mistakes to avoid that miss the big picture and put your brand or business in a hole from the start.
#1 The “Silver Bullet” Strategy
Unless you are marketing to an extremely specific, possibly magical market segment, the consumer is not a werewolf. One strategy (or silver bullet) is not going to take care of your entire problem. How many times have you seen a brand make one Instagram post a week and leave it at that? If you want to have meaningful engagement with the consumer, you need to create a constant dialogue to grow the relationship over time. Repeated interaction with a brand builds the interest and, more importantly, the trust that is required to maintain those relationships. Branch out and engage your target audience in multiple ways and continue to do so consistently over a long period of time. It won’t kill a werewolf (probably?), but it will help your business.
An outdated marketing technique that we see all the time is the idea that you just need a cool website, and the money will start rolling in. Building a website is just the tip of strategy iceberg. This points back to strategy #1—there is no silver bullet, not even parallax scroll. Unless you are constantly going out of your way to engage the consumer, they’re not going to just show up in person or virtually and give you their money. The ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson might be powerless to avoid what you’ve built, but everyone else is going to need a little bit more from your brand. That’s a “Field of Dreams” reference, for those of you under the age of 45.
Speaking of outdated references, there’s a reason the phrase “OK Boomer” became part of the pop culture lexicon. It’s not so much about that specific generation as it is about thinking that your experience is universal—that it transcends geography and generations. Consumers are all different. They’re different from each other and different from you. Even if a 55-year-old man has been working in the same business for 25 years, that doesn’t mean he knows the best way to reach his 28-year-old female audience. There are numerous ways you can survey consumers to figure out what they want and develop a strategy that addresses those specific needs and desires. So don’t just go with your gut—do the research. OK Boomer?
“Do you make viral videos? Let’s do that.”
A viral video or any singular piece of content is a “what.” Before a brand has a “what,” it needs a “why.” It’s essential to develop a strategy as the foundation for your content. Before you can make something meaningful, you have to figure out why you’re making it in the first place. What purpose will it serve? How does it fit with the other moving parts of the brand? Foregoing strategy to just “make stuff” is like shouting into the wind. So put a purposeful strategy in place, and you won’t just be making stuff; you’ll be building something.
Imagine the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs letting his nephew start at quarterback because he’s really, really good at playing Madden on his PS5. Sounds ridiculous, but similar things happen all the time in the marketing and advertising industry. Just because your sister’s boyfriend took a Photoshop class last semester does not mean he should be handling crucial aspects of your business. Professionals—people who’ve studied advertising and marketing and put it into practice for multiple industries—have more than just the basic tools and programs to make a piece of content. They also have the experience and understanding to give meaning to the work. It’s worth investing in people who know what they’re doing when it comes to your business needs.
If you and your agency have a clear picture of your budget from the start, then you can work within that framework to create a strategy that maximizes resources and ensures all your ideas remain viable options. While it may seem freeing to have no budget, it can be a huge waste of time and resources to come up with 100 different variations of an idea only to have 99 of them dismissed because you can’t afford them. Think of it like building a sandcastle: it’s far easier to focus on getting it right if you’re working in a sandbox as opposed to running all over a huge beach. Your agency needs the sandbox.
There’s an old idiom that says, “why keep a dog and bark yourself?” And while we’re not sure why any human would bark (idioms can be weird), there’s a lot of truth in that statement when it comes to hiring marketing teams. When you pay an experienced marketing team to do what they do best, it’s a huge waste of time and effort to not delegate the work to them. Allowing the team you hired to do their jobs is an incredibly important strategy, yet work is so often undercut with “thanks, but let’s do my idea instead.” In other words: let the people you pay to do a job actually do their job. In other, other words: let the dog bark.
Welcome to the loop. Sales doesn’t know what Marketing is doing. Marketing doesn’t know what Operations is doing. Operations doesn’t know what Sales is doing. Ad infinitum. If you aren’t sharing business goals and objectives with all the departments involved with those goals and objectives, you don’t get a well-oiled machine—you get a Rube Goldberg device that leads nowhere. It’s crucial to make sure everyone can see the bigger picture; that way, each part can work toward a cohesive whole, and you’ll have a strategy to avoid a communication breakdown.
Does your business or brand spend millions of dollars a year on creative? How about hundreds of millions on marketing as a whole? Do you have a passionate, sometimes obsessive fan base that will probably support your brand no matter what? If you said yes to this, then congratulations, you are Apple. Otherwise, you’re going to have to approach things another way. Without investment in resources, you can’t get the quality, consistency, and loyalty you desire. Let’s be honest, even with all that, you still can’t be Apple. But you can take a page out of their book—when it comes to your brand’s strategy, “Think Different.”
More likely than not, you’ve already experienced a few of these “strategies.” Don’t worry, we’ve all been there at some point. But with the right agency, budget, and team behind your brand helping you build a strategy that’s right for you, success will come. Good luck out there.