Chairman and co-founder of Dynamic mixing.
Marketing is how you communicate with past, current and future customers. Without marketing, customers won’t be able to buy the products or services you’ve lovingly created because no one knows they exist. Most successful CEOs understand this – which is why companies in the US alone give about € $250 billion every year on marketing efforts.
Smart marketing campaigns help identify new audiences, develop relationships, build your reputation and can ultimately lead to increased revenue. But not all marketing is equally effective. Advertising has evolved over the past 150 years from lengthy product descriptions to creating brand icons to building a community between customers and the company itself. What worked a decade or even a few years ago isn’t necessarily the best idea today.
With that in mind, here are four marketing methods you may still be using that I’ve found to be outdated, along with some alternative ideas for updating your posts.
1. Go Generic
There was a time when a broad message that appealed to large groups of people made sense. Even now, creating a national TV spot means casting the wide net. As cliché as it sounds, the internet has changed everything.
As quickly as technology advances, consumers expect the way companies communicate with them will change. Social media, email, and mobile experiences are all opportunities to interact with people on an individual level. Messages can (and should) be tailored to each customer as personally as possible.
This is about more than entering a name in an email. Your company probably has access to thousands of valuable data points. Use information about location, likes and dislikes, demographics and buying habits to create personas and give your customers options about how they shop and spend their time on your website or social media channels.
2. Using Static Images
You may be surprised to learn that the New York Times has only just started printing color images on its front page: 1997. In the relatively short time since then, the media has undergone a rapid overhaul. In the past, customers were satisfied with beautiful photos or catchy infographics, but in the past four years, people doubled the amount of video they look online.
Brands that still haven’t embraced video as one of the strongest forms of online marketing are missing out on the most effective way to reach customers right now. Video marketing no longer means a week of video recording and expensive airtime purchases; instead, use your smartphone to give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at what your company does. Show off new innovations, interview diverse employees, or create short roles to highlight fun ways to use your products.
Even better, take advantage of the content that consumers generate themselves. Re-sharing videos from real people not only fills your social media timeline for almost free, it makes people feel part of your brand and deepens the relationship you have with consumers and they with each other.
3. Focusing on flaws
Many Millennials and Gen-Zers don’t want to be told to work on themselves. Body positivity and authenticity in all areas have turned into movements with which younger buyers strongly identify. If we focus on perceived problems, whether related to physical bodies, career paths, or lifestyle choices, consumers are likely to alienate rather than generate income.
Younger customers want to feel good about what they buy. Instead of pointing out the personal problems your product will solve, talk about the Why behind what you made. The personal stories of founders, real people who use the products and an element of social responsibility tend to speak much more to younger generations.
4. Not prioritizing marketing
Marketing is sometimes seen as a luxury expense, something that can be cut when money is tight or as an afterthought. At new startups, entrepreneurs often try to take on multiple roles within the company, including marketing. After all, anyone can post on social media, so why should new businesses spend their precious capital outsourcing it?
The problem with this mindset is that marketing is both essential to a healthy business and difficult to master. The illusion that anyone can run a successful Internet marketing campaign exists because skilled marketing professionals make it look easy on purpose. Great marketing has solid research, professional writers and designers shaping the message and brand image, and is driven by data. This is not a job for beginners.
Make marketing a priority. After a few months of well-done marketing versus amateur efforts, you’ll probably never go back to the DIY approach that produced DIY results.
Of course, Doug Brown is often credited with saying, “A comedian can’t stand in front of an audience and say he’s funny. He has to tell the joke and let them decide.” No amount of good marketing will make up for a bad product to begin with. The reverse is also true. It doesn’t matter if you best business idea in the world – if you are still using any of these techniques to get your product and brand message out there, you will be stumbling your business into the past and missing out on real sales opportunities.