via Forbes: While developing a marketing strategy is not an exact science, I often see the same mistakes made over and over when working with business owners and marketing departments. Here are five of the most critical mistakes I come across, and how you can avoid them when putting your marketing plan together.
Mistake No. 1: Focusing On Tactics Rather Than Strategy
Business owners and marketing executives often focus too much on tactics, and not enough on strategy. I often hear, “We want a new website!” and when I ask why, they aren’t sure. They just know they need it. Instinctually, they know their website is ineffective, but they don’t really understand how a better website should translate into an effective marketing strategy that helps them meet their business objectives.
So, rather than focusing on a specific tactic such as a new website, SEO or social media, focus on developing a strategy that meets your goals, and then determine which tactics will be needed to make achieving those goals possible.
Mistake No. 2: Failing To Establish Goals
Focusing too much on tactics and not enough on strategy is often accompanied by a failure to establish goals and objectives. Do you want a new website to make yourself feel better about your brand, or do you want a new website that caters to the wants and needs of your customers? Hopefully it’s the latter, but it’s not uncommon for the former to take precedent, and this is a mistake.
How often have you selected marketing collateral that you liked but maybe failed to take into account whether or not your customers would like it? Before thinking about your strategy and the various tactics needed to execute it, determine the goals you want to achieve. These goals might include a lift in brand awareness, increased lead generation, more online purchases or more in-store traffic, to name a few.
Mistake No. 3: Neglecting To Define And Track The Proper KPIs
Typically, when goals aren’t established, neither are key performance indicators (KPIs). Failing to define and track the proper KPIs prior to deploying your marketing strategy can make it difficult, if not impossible, to verify whether or not the strategy is successful.
If your goal is to increase brand awareness, the KPIs you track may include increased website visits or social media engagement. If lead generation is a goal, the KPIs you track may include contact form leads and phone calls from your website. If online purchases or in-store traffic is a goal, the KPI you should track is (no surprise here) sales.
Mistake No. 4: Targeting Too Broad Of An Audience
Defining your target audience is great, but developing customer personas is even better. The reason for this is that it’s much easier to create a strategy and message that resonates with a persona than a broad target audience.
For example, a health foods company targets moms with college degrees who are health conscious, but they create a strategy for Molly, who is 36, married with two children, has a Master’s Degree, earns six figures, loves to run and only buys organic food for her family.
As the CMO, I would be much more confident targeting the Mollys of the world with a message that our foods are healthy for both her and her family. And although they’re organic and cost more than non-organic foods, she can rest easy knowing that what she (and her family) put in their bodies is good for them. And you can’t put a price on that.
Mistake No. 5: Forgetting About Top-Of-Funnel Prospects
All of your competitors are targeting bottom-of-funnel prospects (prospects who are ready to make a purchase decision), but they are not all targeting top-of-funnel prospects (prospects who are in the research phase of their buying process). This presents a great opportunity for you to capture prospects early in the sales cycle, and at a lower cost as a result of reduced competition.
One of the most effective ways to acquire top-of-funnel prospects is by providing them with answers to their questions. This introduces them to your brand, product/service and also builds loyalty because you’re providing them with perceived value by answering their questions.
Take, for example, a first-time homebuyer. A first-time homebuyer will have many questions pertaining to the home-buying process. Questions they have (and search on Google) may include, “How do I apply for a mortgage?” “How much are closing costs?” or “How much money should I put down?” A homebuilder that targets first-time homebuyers would be able to capture this prospect by promoting content through their website and social media that answers these questions.
In conclusion, avoid these critical mistakes when developing your marketing plan by focusing on strategy first, identifying your goals, establishing the proper KPIs, targeting customer personas and going after top-of-funnel prospects. If you do these things, you’ll have a solid and successful marketing plan.