Marketing Mistake Part II: Spending Too Much Money

Last week, I covered the biggest marketing and communications mistake: Not knowing your audience well enough.

The second biggest marketing mistake is spending too much money.

There are a lot of fun ways to waste money promoting products and services.

Some business folk love to spend hard-earned budget dollars on Made in China plastic uselessness known as incentives. Oh sure, people grab this stuff at marketing booths like children with their McDonald’s Happy Meal toy “surprises.” Wonder what happens to these impulsive treasures? Ask a mother.

Do you really want your company’s name in next week’s trash?

And think of the subtle messages your company is sending about its investment in quality, environmental concern for endless landfills and economic support for China.

(By the way, not all incentives are useless. I’ll cover my favorite ones in a future blog.)

Or there are those who like to buy splashy advertisements that tell their potential customers very little. I call them “ego ads.” Advertising has its place, but there are hundreds of other ways to promote your business without it.

Other companies offer free seminars to showcase their expertise. But nowadays, people cannot give up production time to sit around and sift through soft sales pitches to glean the useful information.

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Do you really want your company’s name in next week’s trash?

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There are several ways to effectively market with a reasonable budget. One very effective approach is to provide valuable content and publish it in media that reach your customer base.

Thanks to Internet publishing, there are more opportunities than ever. Done correctly, hiring a writer/editor with proven experience in publishing and media placement is certainly less expensive than an advertising campaign. Material can be re-purposed in a multitude of other ways, including websites, blogs and newsletters.

Good old-fashion bartering of services and wares is another way to save some cash. I worked for a newspaper that provided free advertising in exchange for company t-shirts, mugs and pens. And frankly, I would not mind offering public relations services to an accountant willing to handle my books and taxes!

Assuring a corporate culture that encourages the maximum customer service possible can be cost-effective and efficient. Don’t send customers to your website only to get lost. Ditto for reporters. If you want to boost media coverage, make sure your media representatives are doing everything possible to help reporters.

Most companies gain more business from referrals. Encourage your customers to tell your story, whether over lunch or on websites and brochures. Offer discounts for referrals and lower cost “trial periods” for new customers. My company offers a minimum $500 monthly retainer.

And finally, keep a record of what works and what does not. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Ask current customers why they like your company, new customers how they heard of your company and old customers why they left. The answers could surprise you

Next week, I will cover Biggest Marketing Mistake #3: Wasting Too Much Time.

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