The purpose of this blog isn’t to teach the fastest ways to unknowingly destroy your marketing efforts, but rather to reveal whether or not you already are. The four ways listed below are so common that they wouldn’t even register, to most people, as mistakes. Unfortunately, they’re also 4 of the most common mistakes, and the only thing lesser-known than these mistakes is the consequences of them.
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- Those “quick” little side projects you need done right away
It’s so easy to ask someone to just take a quick moment and do something for you, isn’t it? What if it wasn’t as little, or as helpful, as you thought it was? What you’re asking for is “reactive help” – hoping or expecting the person to immediately drop whatever they’re doing to heed your request. Research shows that this is a complete backfire move – you’re actually getting lesser-quality help, the helper is getting drained faster than you’d believe, and you’re actually pushing back the entire timeline of your marketing strategy… so don’t come asking why certain deliverables aren’t complete yet after asking your marketer several times to “just take on a quick side project”! There’s Harvard research that actually shows the best way to help and/or ask for help, and how to make requests in the most effective ways.
By scheduling the task with your marketer, you’re not throwing them off-track on other deliverables, and you’re giving them time to be prepared and help you even more. More importantly, they’ll find a way to work it into your marketing strategy or regular deliverables, instead of your request serving to disrupt the flow of your other marketing efforts.
- Not communicating about daily business happenings
When you don’t talk to your marketer about what happens in your daily business happenings, you’re missing half of the marketing report. Your marketer can probably attribute a lot of what happens throughout your day to actions taken on social media, a campaign that’s running or even the marketing strategy overall. For example, one company President was thrilled to find that one year, his success at face-to-face meetings with big retailers around the country was like never before. Rather than realize that big retailers check a brand’s social media presence before deciding whether or not the product even fits into their business model, he thought it was his suave presentation and irresistible charm that was suddenly closing new sales. He never put 2+2 together enough to wonder if the fact that this was the company’s first year marketing digitally could have something to do with it. The end result was that he took all the credit for the success, questioned the marketing budget and its potential to produce results, and undermined the very efforts that were garnering him those successes, business trip after business trip.
More recently, a client emailed and asked if we were making enough traction in our first month of marketing. I replied, of course, and assured her that the first month was a lot of setup and planning, and to have patience and faith. Later that same week, I received another email – sent with utter excitement – about the huge spike in customers coming from the new market we were trying to enter! That let me know very early in the process what was already working for this client, and where I should allocate most of my time for them going forward.
Marketing updates aren’t the only reason to meet with your marketer. Schedule regular updates to let them know what’s going on in other parts of the company (its operations, successes and failures), and you’ll be surprised at how much more equipped your marketer will be to increase what’s working for you, while cutting back on what isn’t.
- Hiring too many chefs (or getting too many opinions about the menu)
You may have heard me say or write before that it’s imperative to know the integrity of who you hire when you outsource marketing, and I’ll continue saying it – so take this advice with a grain of salt. But repeatedly taking marketing advice from people who aren’t your marketers can disrupt everything. Not only are you throwing your marketer off-track each time you question why they’re not doing what your cousin suggested, or asking them to look over a batch of proposals you’ve received from marketing agencies after a networking event you attended, you’re delaying the results of all the tactics your marketer would be implementing if they weren’t humoring your every question. I once had a boss who wasn’t familiar with marketing at all, let alone how agencies would descend like vultures after meeting him at an event. After instructing me to spend weeks vetting each agency’s proposal, and create a compare/contrast spreadsheet of all their pitched packages and features within, he asked how I could possibly be behind in my other work.
Like my mother said, “Consider the source.” If you trusted that person enough to take their advice, why aren’t they already doing the job for you? Are they giving you an informed opinion based on sincere hopes for your best interest or is it just one person’s opinion? I shudder to think of the time a supervisor came to me and asked why a particular post was on Instagram – the source of the questioning was a 10-year-old daughter. It was all I could do to refrain from asking where she got her MBA and when she’d be coming into the office to take over… I instead explained the 80/20 rule of social media marketing.
My last example of this has to do with website redesign, and the most common problem every webmaster encounters – the last-minute advice from people who know nothing about conversion optimization, the psychology of user experience (UX) or other best practices. The website was that of a plumber. All his requests, from look and feel to content, were fulfilled. Before launch, the plumber sent the new homepage to his sister, a customer service rep for UPS, and she promptly passed it around an office of 20 for their feedback. By the time the new round of requests came back to the designer, the website would have looked like a 9-headed monster. The agency actually cut their losses, fired the client and recommended them to another designer!
- Being afraid to trust your marketer with new things
Most of us have some level of fear when it comes to taking leaps, but remember that you hired someone to do something because of their ability to do it better than you can… or because you don’t have the time. Marketing is something that literally changes every day, and only a die-hard marketer can stay on the cutting edge all the time. It’s a full-contact sport! I once worked for a company that didn’t understand the concept of “reputation management” and why we needed it. I pointed out that there were several negative product reviews, and that those customers needed to be made happy a.s.a.p. Unfortunately, I was told that it was too expensive to replace a product, and that quite frankly, they didn’t care if “only one” customer received a defective product. Nearly a year later, one of the owners of the company came in raging about why these negative reviews were just sitting on Amazon, unaddressed. After giving an honest answer, the owner explained to the president how many customers could be deterred from a single negative review, and that a company’s public response to a review, good or bad, was a big part of their branding. The president had no choice but to embrace the fact that 1-3 negative reviews could deter up to 67% of your new prospective customers from buying a product. By that time, it was too late to avoid the need for damage control, and an outside specialist had to be brought in to generate new, positive product reviews – which is a long and costly process if it’s done right and according to new FTC regulations!
New tools, technologies and platforms are emerging every day, and if you’re not one of the people sacrificing their social lives to stay on the cutting edge, you’re not in a place to argue intelligently. Instead, ask your marketer to show you how it works and why it’s a beneficial part of the strategy… even if it’s only to test it. And don’t be afraid for it to fail, unless your marketer is asking you to bet the farm on this new idea. The most hugely successful people and companies became such because they weren’t afraid to test new ideas, and they didn’t get hung up when some of those ideas didn’t pan out. They learned and moved forward to other new ideas that did work.
Remember, every hour spent in an unnecessary meeting is an hour (or more) in which no work is being done for you.
It’s easier to ask “how” and “why” than to deal with untold consequences of the fear of trying something new.
Before you ask a marketer to do something, think of the impact such a request would have on your productivity, then remember that their success is your success. Asking strategically is asking wisely.
The old adage “too many chefs spoil the soup” is, in fact, so old that it shouldn’t require further explanation. You’re either spending all your time interviewing chefs or you’re pushing out dishes to paying customers; again, choose wisely.
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