Top 5 Marketing Mistakes and the Top 5 Marketing Solutions
By John Houle

In my years of advising businesses and associations on marketing, I have seen good advertising, bad branding, and really ugly communications. But, if I were to nail it down to my personal top five worst, it would go something like this:

5. Having the Wrong People Driving the Bus – There are many talented marketing professionals, and then there are many people who should not be implementing marketing strategies. You’re best to leave the marketing to professionals who have a track record of success in the field. Not to say that you should not challenge your marketing professional; in fact, sometimes the best plans evolve from a melding of the minds. But, always make sure that experienced and talented marketing professionals – a strategic planner, a strong writer, a creative graphic designer, and a skilled web developer – are on your team.

4. Doing It Yourself Don’t you have enough to do besides implementing marketing campaigns? You company’s brand deserves the attention of someone dedicated to marketing. A good communications consultant will fight for his or her plans and keep you focused on marketing your business. Your time is valuable, and so are your employees’ time. Having people who focus on their specialty is a more productive use of time and resources.

3. Analysis Paralysis  – During my days I have seen many a Winter Newsletter become a Spring Newsletter that finally is released in the Fall. Websites, print ads, radio and television ads also have experienced similar fates. Too often in the pursuit of perfection and with too many hands in the process, very good products never make it out the door. Strong messages are prevented from being communicated because ‘good enough’ is sacrificed for ‘possible excellence.’ I am a strong proponent of good writing and great creative; but I was once asked to create the “killer TV ad” – it simply does not exist. It is better to get an ‘A-‘ product out the door that communicates your message than to search for the ‘A+’ that never sees the day of light. Perfect is the enemy of good.

2. Because we did it last year – This statement is the wrong answer to why you continue to engage in old marketing strategies. Not to say, if it works, you should not continue, but because you simply advertised in a certain directory or have always advertised in the “Back to School” section does not mean it is the right fit for your business. All of your marketing – your print ads, newsletters, yellow page ads, web site – should all work together to promote your brand. Before you commit to last year’s initiative, stop and ask yourself if it is the best way to promote your company’s message. There are a myriad of communications options available, and finding the right vehicle to communicate your message to your target audience is the key.

1. Marketing Plan. What Marketing Plan? You may have a perpetuation plan. You may have a business plan. You may even have a disaster plan. How about a marketing plan? When was the last time you and your key people prepared a budget and outlined 6 months of activities or a year’s worth of marketing? A good plan is adaptable to changing market conditions. By developing a plan, you can get a handle on budget, judge different marketing mediums next to one another based on cost and effectiveness, and decide on whom will implement activities. Many of you have businesses that are 25, 50, 75 and even 100 years old. What your company stands for in peoples minds – the brand – deserves its proper attention. How you continue to communicate your brand and its primary message in this changing world of communications will help dictate the next 25, 50, 75 and even 100 years of your business.

John Houle is the owner of JH Communications and provides marketing-communications direction to insurance agencies, companies, associations and small businesses.