Stupid Marketing Strategies

Stupid Marketing Strategies

Much of the time we spend here is devoted to discussing strategies for rapid business growth through marketing.

However I’ve found it’s just as important to learn from mistakes as it is to follow good advice.

In this article I’ll outline three of the most common marketing blunders made by small and medium sized businesses.

These “stupid” marketing strategies have killed many small businesses. Left unchecked, they could kill yours.

Stupid Marketing Strategy #1 – Not Tracking Advertising Return On Investment (ROI)

John Wanamaker, one of the marketing greats, famously said:

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half

While this was understandable a century ago, when it was first said, it should be a crime to say today. Yet the reality is that most small businesses do little if any tracking of advertising.

Not measuring where your leads and sales come from and not tracking ROI on ad spend is the mark of the amateur. We all have at our disposal the technology to quickly, easily and cheaply track advertising effectiveness.

Tools such as toll-free numbers, website analytics and coupon codes make this trivial. Remember what gets measured, gets managed. Be ruthless with your ad spend by cutting the losers and riding the winners. Obviously to know what’s losing and what’s winning, you need to be tracking and measuring.

Stupid Marketing Strategy #2 – Going Too Broad

Who is your target market? If you tell me “everyone”, then I know you haven’t properly thought this through.

Trying to target everyone in reality means you’re targeting no one. By going too broad you kill your “specialness” and become a commodity bought on price.

By narrowly defining a target market whom you can wow and deliver huge results for, you become a specialist. A specialist is someone sought out, respected and most importantly trusted.

When you narrow down your target market, you naturally decide who you’re going to exclude. Don’t underestimate the importance of this.

Excluding potential customers scares many small business owners. They mistakenly believe that a wider net is more likely to capture more customers. This is a huge mistake.

Dominate a niche, then once you own it, do the same with another and then another. But never do so all at once. Doing so dilutes your message and your marketing power.

Stupid Marketing Strategy #3 – Wasting Money On “Branding” When You’re A Small Business

So many small businesses waste huge sums of money on “branding”. They see their large competitors do so and think that this must be the path to success.

I explain in explicit detail here why this is crazy.

Here’s a short illustration. Think of yourself as a hunter and your marketing dollars as firepower. You need to use your limited firepower wisely so that you can successfully hunt, come home victorious and feed your family.

If you start randomly firing in every direction, you’re going to startle and scare off your prey. You need to be targeted and clever if you wish to be victorious.

Of course some people will argue with me and say that “getting your name out there” is the way to go.

Unless you’re a large business like Nike, Apple, Coca Cola or similar then it’s likely you can’t afford to burn tens of millions of dollars on fuzzy marketing like “branding” or “getting your name out there”.

Rather than “getting your name out there”, you’ll fare much better by concentrating on getting the name of your prospects in here.

As a small or medium sized business you need to get a fast return on your marketing spend.

Putting your comparatively tiny marketing budget into fuzzy marketing is like the proverbial drop in the ocean.

The game of mass marketing, branding and “getting your name out there” type of marketing can only be won with atomic bomb scale firepower.

If you’re a small to medium business that’s not a game you’re equipped to play.

If you’ve found yourself engaging in any of these stupid marketing strategies, now’s the time to stop, re-evaluate and change course.


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7 Comments

  • Casey Ark

    Reply Reply October 22, 2013

    Allan – brilliant post, and you’re incredibly spot-on with all three of these tips, particularly number #3. I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I meet who think that small business success is predicated by massive branding campaigns – which is a very strange view, indeed. Thanks so much for the post!

  • Excellent article. I absolutely love this site. Thanks!

  • Vincent Flores

    Reply Reply May 12, 2014

    Great Article Allan, really good advice. Especially about branding – I will make sure to pass this article to others

  • Newton Weindorfer

    Reply Reply June 9, 2014

    Allan very true. Few small businesses track their ROI and end up wasting their marketing budget. It’s very important to have this ROI mindset when marketing.

  • Mike

    Reply Reply June 24, 2014

    I agree with all of them, but #3. I think branding depends on a lot of factors. First if you don’t have the money then don’t do branding right away. However, if there is a $1000 in the bank you are close enough to a university, higher a digital graphic artist at $12.00/hr and brand your self. A typical graduate is expecting $50.00/hr and in very rare instances it’s worth it. I am in the middle of starting my own brewery/distillery. I am probably in beer capital of America. If I don’t brand/label myself quickly, and get my name out there then people have nothing to associate my product to. “Yea, I had this incredible beer once.. umm yea I forgot the name of that company and I don’t remember seeing their logo”. At this point, you may have lost a customer. A good logo that represents you and a name that is unforgettable is essential in some markets. My logo is similar to the liberty bell, my name goes with our images, everything is carefully thought out. People know my product from Joe Shmoe down the street. A great branding with great graphics for marketing will take you a long way. I think I would say for branding or not to brand it depends on how much competition you have locally. If you are the only store on the east side of NY, NY that is selling Spices from around the world. People will know who you are. But if there is a million Spice Stores, branding becomes essential to distinguish yourself from others.

    • Allan Dib

      Reply Reply June 24, 2014

      Have you ever bought a product because it had a cool logo? I highly doubt it…

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