In our decade of working with small and mid-sized companies, especially Business-to-Business companies, we've seen the gamut of marketing. From truly wonderful marketers, who understand how fundamental marketing is to strategy and how it can drive a company to success, to truly atrocious, where marketing is an on-again / off-again affair that wastes terrible amounts of money.
Through that work, we've created a list of the 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing. If small and mid-sized companies can address these deadly - and common - problems in their marketing, they will be on the road to achieving great results for their investment.
We'll share the Seven Deadly Sins in a series of posts over the next 2 weeks.
Sin One: Inconsistency
The fable of the turtle and the hare teaches children that consistency, hard work and persistence will lead to success. Unfortunately, lots of SMBs have forgotten or chose to ignore this important lesson when it comes to marketing.
Perhaps it's because marketing can be creative and fun that companies get excited about doing a big 'marketing initiative' in which they throw a lot of resources (money) at a big event (whatever it is - trade show, client appreciation day, webinar). But once the excitement wears off, they find they don't have a plan for leveraging the big event, or they don't have any more resources, or they don't really have the same level of enthusiasm for it. This is a terrible way to market.
Sadly, it's very common in small and mid-sized companies. We have seen many companies launch an initiative that is based on a solid understanding of customer needs and buying behavior, and then for various resources (most commonly, lack of dedicated resources), they drop it within a few months, or they let it gradually peter-out over the course of a year.
It is far more effective (albeit less heady) to be measured with marketing. Be the tortoise! Start with an annual plan, ensure you have sufficient resources to execute it, and then execute consistently. Smart companies tweak their plans along the way when something isn't working, but they don't throw it all away if it doesn't seem to produce the results they seek in a month or two.
It takes time -- from months to years -- to establish anything in the minds of customers - from a brand to a new product to a promotion. We use a rule of thumb of '5 exposures'. That's how many times it typically takes an individual to hear a message before it starts to register for them. So that big one-page ad that you plan to place in the newspaper won't even register for the majority of readers. You're better off to place an eighth-page ad 8 times.
Same goes for trade shows, or referral programs, or blogs. You need to repeat your presence, your message and your content over and over again before anyone realizes you're talking to them.
So keep the old tortoise in mind. SMBs should have a solid marketing plan and stick to it. It's better to do a little marketing consistently over the course of the year than to do one or two big initiatives and then drop them a few months later.