Your marketing should be more than pretty pictures and catch phrases.  It should be a scientific process of continuous improvement that is designed to generate leads and make your business money.  With each campaign, you should get better and better at what you do.

When thinking about your marketing, you should be asking yourself questions like:  

Do you want new customers? Better quality customers? To compete less on price or more on value?

The five most common problems we see with marketing campaigns are:  

  1. Accountability - a lack of accountability for marketing performance
  2. Focus - a lack of focus on the primary goal of marketing
  3. Message - the inability to express a clear message to prospects
  4. Uniqueness - all features and no benefits with no unique selling proposition
  5. Attitude - assuming others have it right and following their bad habits

1. Accountability

Accountability is the process of accurate tracking as to exactly what is and isn't working.  You should to monitoring all your marketing activities, including advertising campaigns, websites, leads and in-store purchases.  Your marketing activities should be subject to rigorous scrutiny so that you can learn and make improvements in the future.

A lack of accountability applies to businesses of all sizes.  It is especially prominent in small and medium sized businesses where owners and managers must juggle multiple responsibilities at the same time.  It is important to remember that marketing is more than just advertising. Advertising is simply one of many channels used to communicate with your customers.

Marketing activities include: product presentation, sales messaging, all interaction with customers, the sales processes, pricing, product development, packaging, market research. Advertising is simply one aspect of communicating with potential customers.  To be effective, you must organise all the pieces of the marketing puzzle.

With regard to your advertising spend, you should be able to:

  • Know how each advertising channel is performing for any given campaign
  • Be able to accurately calculate the cost per sale/revenue generated for each advertising source
  • For search engine advertising you should be able to track keywords back to enquiries, leads and sales, even with in-store purchases (click to read more about our unique tracking technologies).

While some businesses make an effort to track advertising performance, often, the methods used are inadequate or fail to provide an accurate picture of what is really going on.

We use a systematic approach to track and measure:

  • How each advertising channel is performing
  • What search phrases are leading to in store purchases (click for info on our unique tracking system)
  • The return on ad spend on each channel
  • The average time between someone visiting your website and purchasing from you

If you are not tracking these accurately, how can you know what advertising channel is the most effective?

If your job is to grow your business, you need to know exactly what is and isn't working. You must be constantly experimenting with new strategies and evaluating if they work.  The more you do this, the better your return on advertising investment will become over time. 

2. Focus

If you ask most business owners or sales managers what the primary purpose of their marketing activities is, most will respond with phrases like 'to make more money', 'to grow the business' or 'to expand into a more lucrative market or demographic'. These are all excellent goals for any marketing activities or campaign.

Unfortunately most businesses fail to remain focused on these primary goals when engaging in marketing activities, from product selection and presentation to advertising copy and media choice. Focus is everything and you need to constantly ask yourself, how will this activity help achieve our goals? A common example is a business that has always run newspaper advertisements at certain times of the year.  They continue to do so, despite any evidence that it is working.  Their focus has become doing what they've done before, rather than to grow or make more money.

You should be questioning all of your marketing activities.

  • Who is my target market?
  • Do they need or want this product or service?
  • Is it a need or a want?
  • If they do want or need it, what might be holding them back from purchasing?
  • If they have decided to purchase, what might be holding them back from purchasing from you?
  • What are your competitors offering?
  • How can you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • How can your weaknesses be made strengths?

Be clear about the details and make sure you are always positioning your products and services in the best possible way for your target market.

3. Message

How many times have you seen a print or television advertisement and wondered, what was it about?

Some of those ads are the most entertaining advertisements around, but for most businesses, advertising should be about achieving a positive return on investment for each advertising campaign.  While it may not be possible to achieve this on every campaign, it should always be your goal and over time your accumulated spend on advertising must result a positive return.

Yes, large companies can, at times, get away with running vague (but entertaining), branding campaigns. They have the budget and resources to make it work with follow up PR and more advertising. Companies that run these campaigns almost always have a product with a wide potential market, so that there is a big payoff when it works.

None of these conditions are true for small to medium businesses (or even most large businesses). For the vast majority, advertising campaigns can and should bring about a positive ROI. You simply can't afford to run expensive advertising campaigns that do not bring in more then they cost.

Does your message match your market?

When it comes to search engine marketing in particular, there is a unique opportunity to match search phrases to specifically designed 'landing pages' with messages written to target people searching for these phrases. Considering the potential for success with this strategy, it is surprising that most small and medium sized businesses fail to implement this.

4. Uniqueness

Do you have a unique selling proposition?

Pick ten small business or medium websites at random. Try to pick a business type that you may need to use in the near future. How many of them leave you with a sense that there is a good reason to at least contact them? How many give you the impression that they 'get it'?

Most business advertising material (including website copy) fails it's two main goals: to sell the product or service and to differentiate the business from its competition.

Are you all features and no benefits?

Whenever we are whether or not to spend money, or who to spend it with, it's not the list of features or specifications that motivate us to take action. What gets us it's what those features actually mean to us. Just like most advertising fails to create a clear unique selling proposition, almost all advertising fails to clearly focus on why buying this product will improve their life in some way. How will they feel? What problems will be solved? How will their life be better? Are they left feeling like they need it?

No matter how mundane you think a product or service may be, these principles apply every time and make all the difference.

5. Attitude

The driving force behind Reality Enhancement is our growing frustration with the current state of advertising in Australia. We don't understand how marketing businesses and agencies get away with what they are producing. We see this as an obvious opportunity to show businesses what can be achieved when marketing is treated as a science.

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