Cardinal Marketing Sins

These marketing sins are the ones I see throwing kinks into most marketing plans.

There are a lot of people telling you what to do when it comes to marketing, but I wanted to outline some of the biggest mistakes that I see.  I call them “cardinal marketing sins” because being overly dramatic is kind of my thing.

1) No plan or strategy.

If you think that your marketing is going to automatically be successful because you’re doing “something”, you’re wrong.  I hate to be the one to break it to you, but without a marketing plan, your marketing will have more SUCK than the newest Dyson.

Creating a marketing plan that works for you and your business sounds like a daunting task, but the easiest way for me to create a strategy is to work backwards.  Think about the goals you’re trying to reach with your business, and then make a step-by-step plan to get there.  Keep in mind that part of having a plan is knowing that you may deviate from it at some point, and that’s okay!  Without a plan, you’re just wandering around, not knowing if you’re going in circles or, worse, backwards.

It turns out that everything your high school guidance counselors told you is true: “Shoot for the moon!  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  Shout out to every 90’s teacher who had that poster in their classroom!

2) Not paying attention to your competition.

Do you think that Google is paying attention to what Bing is doing?  Most people think that Google is so large, they could care less what the 3rd-ranking search engine, Bing, is doing.  I think that’s an incorrect assumption.  I’m not a gambler, but I’d be willing to bet that they have at least one person, maybe even a team of people, whose only job is to study Bing’s marketing, practices, tools, and traffic.  Being the geek that I am, I actually have a theory that this one marketing sin is what caused mobile-phone giant Blackberry to crash and burn.  I saw it happening back then; Blackberry paid attention to their customers, but they weren’t watching their competitors.

I’m sure you can name the one person in your industry who dominates your market.  Study them.  What do they do?  How do they do it?  It could be just dumb luck on their part, but probably not.  Don’t copy them; you are your own person with your own ideas, and you’re better than that.  But use the data that you collect to propel you past them in ways that they aren’t thinking of.

3) A lack of consistency.

If there’s one thing that I can tell you about whatever marketing you’re doing, it’s this.  Be consistent.  You’ve probably read statistics somewhere that tell you that someone has to see a television commercial XX number of times before their brain recalls and recognizes the product… I don’t know the television commercial statistics, but what I do know is this:  I have actually mailed a postcard to a geo-farm ONCE and gotten one phone call from it.  For only a fraction more (because the more postcards you print, the cheaper they are), I mailed the exact same postcard to the exact same people 3 times in one month, and got 14 phone calls from it.  In fact, my broker and I actually went to meet a client at her house once, and she had a stack of over 15 of our mail pieces.  She kept every one of them.  At what point do you think she decided to call?

Be consistent with your branding, also.  Many sales people don’t treat their business as a business, but rather as a job (I’m looking at you, Realtors).  You should have your own branding.  Even if it’s just an image of your personal signature, which goes at the bottom of every mail piece and every email you send.  Find the one thing that can be uniquely identified as YOU, and use it in every marketing medium you use.  Of course I also recommend latching onto your brokerage’s branding; I could write an entire blog post on the effects that large-scale branding has on consumers.  It works because consistency is such a key part of marketing.

4) Not tracking statistics.

If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it.  It’s easy for you to say, “I’m not a numbers person” but the truth is, if you’re in sales or you run a business, everything you do is a numbers game.  If you will get into a habit of tracking your applicable marketing statistics once a week, you will see improvement as you perform the steps in your plan.  Not only does this keep you moving and shaking, but it also can be a way to teach you what marketing performs the best in your market.

There are a lot of things to be tracked, and what you need to track all depends on what you’re doing.  If you’re a numbers person, then you probably already know what you want to track.  If you have no idea, then this is a spot where hiring a consultant for a few hours of advice, support and education would really help you.

5) Relying on a one-trick pony.

If your plan only has one lead generation source, then you’re setting yourself up for a fall in the future.  Marketing has lots of ebbs and flows; there are a lot of constantly changing variables.  Market saturation is one of those things to consider, in fact.  The idea that you can wear out your own marketing by over-doing it is a real possibility (I’ve done it!) and you should have a plan B in place for if/when your one-trick pony fails.

I think it’s good to have 3 solid sources of lead generation going at all times, unless you’re running a business where you have a medium-to-large sales team to provide leads for, in which case you need more.  3 lead sources is great for one person or a small team.

6) Being reluctant to spend money.

I know, this is a sticky one.  But hear me out!  I’m not saying that you have to spend A LOT of money.  You can spend only $15 on a Facebook ad and that’s a great start!  Start small and do only what you can afford.  Set aside 10% of your income/commissions for your marketing.  Don’t be reluctant to spend your money on marketing, because money spent on marketing is an investment in the future of your business.  To keep building your pipeline, you have to continue to invest in your marketing.

The good news is that there will come a time when you would rather spend your money than your time on marketing.  If you’re just starting out, you have plenty of time and not very much money.  That will change if you keep doing the right things!

The secret to these 6 marketing sins is that everybody’s done at least one of them at one point in time.  Most of us have done all of them for the first several years of our professional life!  Until you get a plan in place and have your systems in place, these marketing sins will keep recurring.  And that’s okay; be aware of them, and block them when you get a chance!  I still commit sins #3 and #6 on a regular basis… but it only takes me one small stumble to realize it, then I realign myself with my goals and get my head back in the game!

Brittany Gilbert

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