Small and medium-sized businesses in Houston need to extract maximum value from their marketing budgets, which are typically limited and demand a high return on investment. This makes it even more important that they avoid common advertising mistakes, which happen when businesses and their marketing teams lose focus on the all-important details of a campaign. Such errors can occur on the level of both campaign conception and execution.
The best way to avoid these mistakes is for businesses and marketers to pay close attention to the relationship between a brand and its target audiences. With that in mind, here are 10 mistakes businesses make when implementing their marketing campaigns:
- Failing to form and implement a marketing plan up front. It’s essential to identify short-, medium- and long-term goals with any marketing campaign, and to commit an annual budget to advertising. Tempting as it may be, it’s also a mistake to cut back on advertising when business is slow. This move tends to further diminish the number of new customers walking through the door.
- Under spending. While there is no universal answer to the question of how much to spend on ad campaigns, a good approach is to tie the advertising budget to company revenues. We recommend service-oriented businesses spend about 5 to 8 percent of their revenues on advertising, though new companies seeking to establish themselves in a marketplace may bump that figure to as high as 15 percent.
- Using the wrong medium to target the intended audience. Campaigns should always leverage the medium or media the intended audience is most likely to use. For example, younger demographics are more likely to respond to social media marketing, while certain segments within older consumers respond better to traditional media, including print, radio and TV advertising. (Heads up – certain older consumers are becoming more digital savvy than you think!)
- Spreading the campaign across too many media channels. It’s also a mistake to spread a marketing budget too thinly across a wide range of media. This generally leads to sub optimal end results, as the effectiveness of the message is undercut by a media presence that, because of budgetary constraints, is simply too watered down. A Houston business is better off investing strategically investing in the top media channels with proven success in reaching your target demo.
- Logistical errors. Businesses should always make it easy for the customer to follow through. However, they often fail to do this, by making errors such as burying important contact information in the middle of an ad or placing QR codes on the side of moving buses, thus making them impossible to scan. Be sure to allocate some of your marketing budget on ramping up the experience customers will ultimately follow in order to purchase your product or service. (For example, ensure your website has a clear call-to-action that aligns with what consumers heard in an ad on the radio that pointed them to go to the website.)
- Overuse of technical terminology. While the use of technical or industry-specific jargon can boost perceived professionalism and expertise, communicating in a more common language helps Houston businesses reach and connect with a broader audience. (This is especially true when a business is limited on character space or air-time.)
- Taking the wrong sales approach. Always isolate and define a campaign objective. A “branding/awareness” approach increases brand awareness and recognition but doesn’t necessarily drive immediate traffic or sales. This may be ideal for a new business trying to build its presence within the Houston market. A “sales/incentive” approach pushes specific products and services and offers trackable results. The latter typically inspires consumers who are already aware of a Houston business to buy or act now.
- Ineffective calls to action. Do you want a prospective customer to visit a website? Come to a store? Call a customer service representative? Advertisers should make this a clear and prominent part of marketing messages, especially those that support a “sales” goal.
- Inconsistent creative across marketing elements. Failure to use consist creative themes – especially for new businesses – will leave it incumbent upon consumers to put the pieces together. Make it easy for them. The more consumers see the same logo and the same message, the more likely it will resonate and get them to take action. This is a marketing tactic that the strongest and most viable brands in the world employ.
- Failing to track results. Many businesses fail to quantify the results of their ad campaigns, leaving them without enough information to evaluate the effectiveness of their ads and pinpoint areas for improvement. A thorough, numbers-oriented approach to ad tracking is necessary at all levels of the campaign.
Avoiding these pitfalls will help Houston’s small and mid-sized businesses get more bang for their marketing bucks. And adhering to some of the “dos” listed above will ensure they not only connect with potential customers, but stand a much better chance of converting leads into new sales and, ultimately, stronger, healthier businesses.