Let’s face it, all marketing efforts take time and creativity and most of the time every word you write or advert you post has your heart and soul poured into it with the dream of many leads to come.
It would be unfair to label any marketing activity as useless. But, are they all really useful?
In a world where content is created every second and products innovated and launched by the minute, scrutiny has become necessary to ensure you are not just writing content, placing ads or posting messages for the sake of doing it but, most importantly, that you are actually adding value.
To ensure your marketing efforts don’t accumulate to mere drops in the ocean but are actually drivers of innovation, thought leadership and efficacy, ask yourself the following questions before you give yourself the stamp of approval:
Do I know what I want to achieve?
Apart from making money, do you know what it is you actually want to achieve? This might seem simplistic, but when you really drill down into it, it becomes quite complex.
You might want to establish an online shoe business. A simple idea. But what will set you apart from other online shoe companies? How much experience do you have with shoes, ecommerce and logistics compared to your competitors?
So, the question, in actual fact, is not only what do you want to achieve, but what do you want to achieve that will make you unique and set you apart? That is what your marketing efforts need to focus on.
Related: Free marketing for business owners
Do I actually know what I do in five sentences or less?
Once again, this might seem simple but have you ever been an exhibition, on the golf course, at a braai or in a business meeting where someone asks you what you do and you find yourself needing about thirty minutes to explain?
Even worse, have you tried creating a website homepage or landing page knowing it is not supposed to be content heavy, but unable to get your service or product across in less than a thousand words?
If you can’t explain what you do, how it improves lives and why people should buy it in five sentences or less then you need to sit down and reflect on what you actually do, how it adds value to your clients and how it differs from your competitors. Keep it short and sweet so when people ask, they walk away informed and impressed by your response.
Is my unique advantage really setting me apart?
We all love to say yes. Of course, you’re the best at what you do and that should be enough right? Wrong. You’re only the best at what you do if you can prove it. Whether you believe it with every fibre of your being does not matter to someone that is supposed to hand over their hard-earned money for your services.
So, it’s time to look at what you are doing and what you believe sets you apart and see if it really does set you apart. Innovation might sound overrated, as it is on the website of every second company, but the word holds a lot of meaning in this fast-paced world where things are moving at a mile a minute.
If you are not staying ahead of your competitors and differentiating yourself then you are falling behind.
Am I just another drop in the ocean of marketers?
Are you just talking to be ‘talking’ or posting to be ‘posting’ or are you actually making meaningful contributions to your audiences’ lives?
Can you even begin to imagine how much content exists on the Internet in the form of videos, blogs and social media? Can you grasp how much duplicate content exists? Are you adding to that? Simply throwing another stone into the ocean because that’s what everyone is doing?
With everything that you do, make sure that you are actually adding value. Don’t just write an article for the sake of writing an article. Identify your customer problems, pain points, common questions and speak to those. Add value, not duplication.
Related: The marketing planning process: Marketing strategy and example guide
Am I actually using the right channels or just following the norm?
A few years ago, two words revolutionised the world of marketing: ‘Digital Marketing’ and since then every company has jumped on the bandwagon to ensure that they are raking in the leads.
However, while digital marketing is without a doubt one of the biggest drivers of innovation and cost-effective lead generation, it is not a one-size fits all solution, and it is definitely not simple.
Digital marketing does comprise a world of opportunities for any entrepreneur to take hold of, but traditional channels should not be ignored. Going back to the basics has saved many brands. The marketing channels you choose to promote your product or service depend on the type of business you run too.
If you are establishing an e-commerce store, then digital marketing is the way to go. If you are a carpenter, then advertisements in your local newspaper could go a long way to getting business.
There are no right or wrong channels, but you need to use your time and money wisely and ensure you choose a combination of channels that are right for your company.
Don’t allow your business to be invisible because your marketing efforts are getting lost in the sea of similarities. Think about your differentiating factors and use the to your advantage. And if you have no differentiating factors? Study your competitors, see where they are lacking and where you can make-up and gain.