It’s a new year, and a new opportunity to get yourself out there and meet your Best Client Ever, but how? Well, before you create your marketing plan for 2018, it is important to review what worked and what didn’t about the year that just ended. Things that worked go on the list for this coming year, and things that didn’t get scrapped. However, learn from those mistakes! Anything that doesn’t make it onto the list for 2018 is a learning opportunity. Once you identify a mistake, see it as a tool to open your eyes and force you to get creative and move forward with a new solution. Brainstorm around failures: Why didn’t it work? Can it be adjusted to be more effective? Was the timing off? Was the content wrong? Finally, if you noticed mistakes made by others, make sure you don’t fall short in the same way. Remember: mistakes are not the end of the world, just opportunities to improve.
Here are my top marketing mistakes, aka What Not to Do in 2018:
· Unclear business concept
Akin to shops that offer knife sharpening, video rental and notary public, if you don’t have a clear and understandable business concept, there is no marketing in the world that can help you. Practice by lighting a match and saying what you do. Once your fingers are burned, you should have stopped! I use conceptual exercises to help my clients not get burned.
· Send too many emails
Too many emails will irritate potential clients and alienate your loyal followers. Make sure you have a reason to blast, and create a schedule that keeps you front of mind but isn’t invasive. I often suggest something between once a week and once a quarter, depending on your business. MailChimp is my favorite service; legally you must use an email marketing service if you are sending bulk emails.
· Have no web presence
You don’t need your own website to have web presence, so there really is no excuse. A Google My Business listing, a Yelp listing, a FaceBook business page, even an about.me page gives your followers a place to research you and lends credibility to your claim to be a business. Certain industries, such a real estate, offer their agents pages within the corporate website, so make use of that if it is offered.
· DIY your website
Unless you have web skills, or are using the most basic 1 page template, I cannot recommend designing your own website. I had my own DIY website for many years, which looked terrible despite my many re-workings of it, and I finally grew so ashamed of it that I turned to a professional. (Lisa Erickson surprised me with a clean and simple design that caught the attention of a TV producer!) Don’t expect that a designer can “fix” your DIY either – like me, you may have created the equivalent of a permanently tangled ball of yarn. Take a deep breath and start fresh. The results will be worth it, and you don’t need to pay $20,000.
· Use dated graphic design
If you were in business in the 90s and your graphics haven’t changed, we need to talk. I am not saying scrap everything, but subtle changes like different paper or ink colors can freshen your look without diluting your brand.
· List your fax # on business cards
No fax numbers! And while we’re at it, brutally scrutinize all data included on your print collateral. You can delete almost everything but your name, title, company, email, web and phone. Social handles are useful, provided they are the same across platforms so you don’t need to list them out. Remember, your audience is sophisticated and so should your materials be.
· Incoherent social content
I teach entire classes on social media, so this could be a post, or a book, in itself, but one principal to remember across any channel while doing any kind of post is to think about your Mission Statement and make sure that each piece of content is in alignment with what you say you do. If you are a modernist architect, for example, don’t post photos of a French country chateau, unless you are making a point. It’s all about strategy, people.
Now set aside a day (I know, impossible) or a few hours and really examine where you were last year and where you are going in 2018. Make a formal plan, even if it is a short evernote, and stick to it! I expect to hear, next January, that this was your best year ever.