Below are 5 telling signs that a marketing makeover is not only called for, but necessary.
SIGN #1: No Marketing Plan
Having a marketing plan is no guarantee of success, but not having a plan is a guarantee of failure. No marketing plan means no brand strategy and no marketing objectives, which means the tactical campaigns you deploy (emails, webinars, brochures, advertising) are not pushing in the same direction. A plan is well within your reach (see "Anatomy of a Marketing Plan"). Start thinking about yours today!
SIGN #2: A Flat Website
In the early stages of the dotcom era, just having a company presence on the web was enough. A website that was in essence an "electronic brochure" was very much the norm. Standing out from the rest carried a price tag that was only approachable by the largest of corporations, with very understanding CFOs. That feels like is so last century nowadays. Web development tools available now, give us the ability to add interactivity, visual flare and rich media at prices that are well within the reach of the smallest of companies. So the only thing between you and an impressive, clutter-breaking website is your imagination (with a little help from a creative web designer).
SIGN #3: No Human Face
People like doing business with other people. Not call center menus, automated attendants or inquiry email boxes. You have to show your face. Especially small businesses where the "leadership team" is the only team and the DNA of the company is almost identical to the DNA of the owner or the partners. Share more about who you are, your blogs, your Linked-In profile, your tweets, your profile photo. The fewer layers and distractions between you and the customer the better. If anything, one of the tools you have against the big companies is that you are right there...involved, engaged and fully attentive to their needs. No corporation can match that. So why are you hiding it?
SIGN #4: No Brand Personality
Brands are like people. They have personalities (well, most of them do). In today's marketplace, you can't be a non-entity. You can't go under the radar and expect to be noticed. Your brand must stand for something. It must be clear and distinct, and it must have stopping power. All it takes is some thought and a plan of action that keeps all your marketing and sales touch-points singing the same tune. If your brand personality is supposed to be smart and aggressive, but your website projects a soft and inviting persona, and your sales presentation looks like neither of those two approaches, then you'll have a split brand personality and a bunch of confused (and uninterested) prospective customers.
SIGN #5: One-Dimensional Lead Generation
If any marketing consultant tells you that they have a marketing campaign that's sure to yield the leads you need, save yourself some time and money and say your goodbyes right there. Marketing is both art and science, and increasingly these days, it looks like the art part is taking over. Comparisons with past direct mail response rates, sales close rates, click through rates and every other marketing metric you can think of should be put away as business history. Tactics that use to work well in the past may fail miserably today, and vice versa. Cost-effective web-based techniques allow you to experiment with new marketing tactics and hedge your bets with little risk. And don't hesitate to switch your marketing mix on a dime. You may have to get used to that going forward.
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