Marketing guru Seth Godin defined marketing pretty succinctly: "Marketing is a contest for people's attention." If you understand the contest rules and follow them throughout your campaign, you can do well – really well. Unfortunately, all too often marketing departments miss significant opportunities by a few common mistakes. Learn to recognize and avoid these errors and you'll already be way ahead of much of your competition:
1. You're selling too much.
One of the most common mistakes companies make in their marketing campaigns is selling too hard. It's true – your marketing program should be focused on promoting your product or service. But nobody likes to be inundated with "hard-sell" sales tactics. The most effective marketing programs sell gently, through a process that begins with gaining the customer's trust and evolves over time, helping them see you as an ally that can help solve a problem, not as a nagging presence that makes their lives more unpleasant.
2. You're not consistent.
When it comes to marketing – especially content marketing – one of the worst things you can do is offer content in fits and starts. You may have started that company blog or Facebook account with the best of intentions, but unless you follow through and publish content on a regular and predictable basis, you can create an image of a company that's unreliable and unfocused. Have a plan before you start and be ready to devote the necessary resources to publish regularly.
3. Your content is dull or off-target.
Stop focusing on your sales message for a moment and consider the customers' needs and lifestyles. Writing content that provides real value to the customer will keep them coming back for more and help position your company as one that cares about its customers and understands their needs.
4. You're not taking advantage of social networking sites.
When it comes to getting involved in social media, many companies act like ostriches, burying their heads in the sand. But when you ignore social media today, you do so at your own peril; millions of people engage on social sites each day, and if you want to connect, you have to be there too.
5. You're targeting the wrong audience.
Not all social networking sites are the same; understand the subtle differences in the audiences they attract and the types of messages and information they provide, then customize your social content to suit those sites for the best results and greatest engagement.
Marketing is one of the most complex aspects of running a business. If you don't have a background in marketing, you owe it to your business to look into getting an education. Leading universities like Washington State offer online MBA programs that let you learn about marketing and other business subjects from experts and thought leaders. Advancing your education is one of the best investments you can make in yourself and in your business. Take some time right now to explore your options and then take that first step toward a more successful future for your business and yourself.