The way you – as an entrepreneur or business owner – approach marketing affects your long-term success. Yet many new businesses don’t even think about how they approach marketing, which leaves them vulnerable to costly mistakes.
At Marketing 360®, we talk to thousands of energetic business people every year, each ready to jump into the internet and share their idea with the world.
But excitement can overreach. Before they have a strategy or defined goals, they want to get straight to executing campaigns and winning conversions.
And at times, the overreach is worse. The businessperson starts with an approach to digital marketing – which includes their attitude towards technology – that’s askew. This creates problems which affect everything else they attempt, like a person taking up skiing who can’t stand cold weather.
We mean for the word approach to be taken literally here. This precedes everything else you do. To a considerable extent, it connects to your overall aptitude for starting and running a business.
Here are five problematic approaches to digital marketing we see that are not harbingers of good things to come. The tips we offer are for your consideration. The right approach – to any endeavor – can make all the difference.
#1. You Dislike and Resist Technology
This problem is most common with established business people who cut their teeth marketing in the pre-digital era, but we also see it with people starting a new business.
These people simply resent the complexities and distractions of digital technology. They’ve witnessed the internet transform their simple, two-channel marketing plan (the Yellow Pages and signs at bus stops) into a multiple-channel effort that has them publishing content and interacting on multiple social media platforms.
We sympathize and also acknowledge that everyone – even people who work in marketing – can suffer from technology trepidation. Things evolve at lightning speed while trends come and go before you have a chance of applying them to your marketing. It’s frustrating.
However, it’s also the world we live in. If you are going to run a business today, you must get at least a basic grip on how digital technology affects communication. If you remain uninformed, you will be at a competitive disadvantage.
If you struggle with your approach to communicating with digital technology, do this:
- Get the internet working in your favor. Go on Google and start asking questions about how various platforms and technologies work. There is tons of free info available on digital marketing, including our digital marketing blog.
- If you don’t have a smartphone, get one and start using it to browse on the internet, search for services, and shop. Put yourself in your customer’s place and get a sense of how to use mobile connectivity.
- Get on Facebook and LinkedIn. Use Facebook for personal connections, and LinkedIn for business. Play with the platforms; take some pictures with your phone and share them on Facebook. Find some Facebook groups you’re interested in and engage in the conversation.
Note that anyone can do these things. They require no technical skill. Take some time and start interacting through screens.
If you’re older and you think social media seems like a foreign language, talk to some younger people you know who are digital natives. Get pointers on how to engage and gain some followers.
The goal here is to break the barrier and get enough of a feel for online search and communication that you’re not totally lost. An hour or two a week can make a big difference in how comfortable you feel with technology…
We have a client who is a custom flooring contractor. His business was passed down from his grandfather.
They’d always had a strong local reputation and good word of mouth that supported their marketing, but in recent years he began losing opportunities to new competition.
This guy is old school and hates computers as well as phones. But he came to us reluctantly saying, “I guess it’s time to look at this internet thing.”
We set him up with a website and his exec put out some local offers on Facebook Marketplace. In a week’s time, he landed a couple of nice new contracts.
He called us back. “Maybe this internet thing isn’t so bad. Can you show more about how to get on Facebook?”
You may think you hate technology. But when you start making money from advertising through it, we guarantee it won’t seem so bad.
#2. You Have a Tough Time Sticking to a Long-Term Plan
If there is ever a red-flag when it comes to dealing with business marketing, it’s the person who’s run through vendors and marketing staff because they never seem to get results.
We recently spoke with a business owner who detailed his marketing efforts. In the past year, he’d worked with a total of nine vendors and was on his third in-house marketing manager in the last 6 months.
We understand that sometimes a business works with a marketing service and it’s not a fit. It happens.
But when we meet a business owner that’s constantly firing his marketers (or they quit), we recognize a pattern that’s an approach problem.
In this case, the business owner is showing that he or she has unrealistic expectations and is usually measuring the effectiveness of campaigns in the short term. When results don’t happen right away, they blame marketing and decide to try something different.
It’s not unusual with this approach for the business owner to demand evidence that a tactic will work – before it’s been tried. They’ll say things like “Show me data that proves this will work!” or “Do you guarantee results?”
Impatience is not a virtue in digital marketing. Instead, your approach must be both long-term and based on reasonable trial and error.
We often say that marketing is about doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Implied in this statement is that you’re willing to take the time and effort to discover what doesn’t work. If you expect everything to happen before you’ve tried it you’ll get frustrated, which makes for unstable relationships with the people doing your marketing.
If you have problems with this approach to marketing, do this:
- Realize that many marketing endeavors require testing and time. Plan ahead with your budget and expectations so you don’t quit a tactic before it has time to come to fruition.
- Base your efforts on practical risk and explicit assumptions. You want to try things you believe will work, but you won’t have data or certainty until you try it.
- Be patient and act on the data. If you test a tactic and the data shows it’s not working, then move on. Don’t jump ship too early, otherwise you might as well have not tried in the first place.
You may deal with some marketing services that aren’t that sharp. Sometimes they don’t get it done and they should be terminated.
But if you have a pattern of blaming marketers and ditching tactics unless the results are immediate, you have a problem with your approach.
If you don’t correct it, you’ll never discover a satisfactory marketing service or high-performing tactic.
#3. You’re Looking for the Magic Wand
We recently talked to a prospective client who heard that SEO was the way to go.
Her request was concise, to say the least. She said, “Here’s $300 a month, make me #1 on Google.”
We looked at her marketing collateral. An ancient website with a totally vague, unconvincing messaging. No social media presence anywhere. No paid advertising efforts, so no data to work off there.
And another approach problem. The person who’s looking for a single, perfect tactic that will magically make them successful.
In reality, this is naive. Digital marketing is a holistic discipline that runs on multiple channels, and those channels feed off each other. While there are certain channels your business lends itself to, it’s rare that just one tactic alone is optimal.
If you have the magic wand approach to marketing, do this:
- Analyze what tactics your business lends itself to, and test them. Data will show you your sweet spots.
- Realize that your tactics and collateral are interconnected. A PPC ad is only as good as the website landing page it goes to. It’s really hard to rank a poorly developed website. Social media may only create brand awareness, so you need to retarget to convert.
- Know that anyone trying to sell you a magic wand is being disingenuous. Any marketer worth her salt knows this isn’t how it’s done.
#4. You Want to Game the System
Even today, as AI becomes more robust, many people want to game the system. They figure there must be a short-cut, and they want to take advantage of it.
Let’s be clear. Short-cuts and hacks that skirt the rules Google and Facebook create for advertising will fail. Black Hat SEO has been dead for years. There’s no way to sneak organic content into people’s news feeds.
These platforms have teams of engineers creating systems that force businesses to play by their rules. Unless you have a team of engineers yourself (and, in truth, some entities do), you’re not going to outsmart them.
Consider that the way content is ranked and displayed is for the benefit of users. Google wants to deliver the most relevant search results. Facebook wants people to see content that’s interesting to them.
Your best bet is to work with the system. Create content that matches what users need, then use the opportunity to expose your brand. Build out a sales funnel so you can nurture those initial contacts into business opportunities.
Short-cuts and black hat hacks are not worth it. As we’ve indicated, marketing takes time, and it isn’t zero sum. Long-term planning, cooperation, and genuine desire to help people are the better business strategy.
If you have this approach to marketing, change it. You can’t build a business on short-cuts, and system hacks can land you in the sandbox.
Approach and attitude towards digital technology has more of an impact on the end results of campaigns than most people realize. The wrong approach can hamstring everyone else involved in marketing your business. As the business owner, you set the tone and you have the final say.
Be open-minded, flexible, and realistic. Strategic patience is a winning approach to digital marketing.
And so is decisiveness. Don’t get hung-up on sunk costs or vague uncertainty. When the data tells you something isn’t working, move on. When you find gems, that’s where you put your resources.
Most of all, don’t sell yourself short. You can get a grip on digital communication trends, and you can win the game playing by the rules.
A positive approach gives you the best chance at profitable results. Now you know where to start.