I work with companies to address their overall marketing strategy and implement the supporting tactics.

In my work, there are 5 mistakes that I see most companies make preventing them from reaching their marketing goals:

1 - Confusing a Tactic with a Strategy

Many companies' marketing isn't working because they focus on a tactic without an overarching strategy.

Marketing is complex and requires the deployment of multiple tactics in concert towards a strategic goal. A tactic that works today is unlikely to continue to work over the long run without an understanding of how that tactic fits into the marketing ecosystem to achieve a desired result.

In other words, if you are running LinkedIN Ads and seeing an uptick in traffic or inquiries, but you don't have a strategy for continuing to market to those leads to an eventual sale, you are wasting money.

As one of my colleagues says, "Marketing should not be viewed as a vending machine. Just because you put money in once and get a result, doesn't mean that tactic will work again or always give you what you expect."

2 - Not Being Consistent

Marketing is about consistency.

A consistent look and feel to your materials, the tone of your brand language and the cadence that you produce and publish content is the only way to achieve good results.

If you hire a stellar agency to create lead generation assets but don't update your brand (e.g. website, logo, product materials) or overall message you are setting yourself up for failure.

Your marketing establishes the initial impression your customer has of your company and you must carry that brand promise through the experience of delivering your product or service.

3 - Not Addressing Your Customer's True Motivation

You have likely heard this before, but very few companies get it right: Your customer does not buy what you specifically sell.

Your higher value proposition is found in understanding the very basic need your company addresses for your customer:

· Do you help them sleep better at night?

· Will your product or service get them a promotion or raise at work?

· Do you give them more free time, make their life easier or address a fundamental problem?

You are close to your business and likely need an outsider perspective to get this right. I find company owners' focus too much on "what" they do and they don't go deep enough with customers to find out "why" customers truly buy.

4 - Focusing on Creation Instead of Promotion

Your customer is just not that "into you".

They have other things going on in their lives and receive thousands of messages from companies everyday. Just because you shared a piece of content once, doesn't mean that anyone saw it.

I share content that I create multiple times and across multiple platforms and am amazed at the times individuals reach out based on a piece I created years ago. It wasn't relevant to them at the time I created it - or more likely they just didn't see it.

A good rule of thumb - spend 20% of your time creating content, 80% promoting it.

5 - Seeing "Marketing" and "Sales" as Separate

Companies are quick to lump "sales and marketing" together when discussing the organizational structure, but within the organization the two groups often work very independently.

A good marketing strategy must be tied closely to your sales strategy.

  • What assets does your marketing team need to create to support the overall sales cycle?
  • How can marketing help your sales team with the heavy lifting of outreach or nurturing a customer along the path to making a purchase?

It should be a red flag if you don't see your sales and marketing teams talking and collaborating regularly.

Marketing is not hard. It requires planning and operational structure to work effectively.

Published on: Oct 5, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.