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8 Reasons Your Marketing Sucks

By March 28, 2011July 1st, 2014Marketing Insights & Strategy
8 Reasons Your Marketing Sucks

Yikes, that’s pretty harsh language! But you probably wouldn’t have paid attention if I’d said “8 reasons why you’re marketing is not very effective” or “8 reasons your marketing is somewhat less than successful” or “8 reasons your marketing isn’t helping you get more customers”.

In lieu of an intro, let’s get right into it because this is a perfect example of why your marketing sucks.

Warning: this is not for the defensive or easily offended. This is for those of you who are willing to hear the truth so you can better market your business.  It’s also for those of you feeling confident and smug that your marketing is fine, because chances are you’re letting it languish when you could be making it rock. So find out why it sucks and then get busy making it better.

Reason 1: You Use Weak Language To Sell Your Business

You didn’t hire a professional copywriter. You probably sat with your laptop and a glass of wine or the game on TV one night and knocked out a couple of paragraphs about your business.

I bet there’s a bulleted list of services or industry accolades somewhere that you thought sounded brilliant. Does your website have an “About Us” page that tells yawning prospects how many years you’ve been in business, the address of all six of your locations and a bit of mumbo jumbo about your incredible commitment to customer service and quality work? Did I mention yawn?

Even if you’re using allegedly “strong” language and speaking only in active voice and thesaurus-worthy verbiage, that doesn’t mean you’re selling your business. You need content that speaks to your customers and addresses their needs and problems, not just speaks at them about your wonderful business.

You can be pretty sure that your marketing sucks if you read your brochure, website or some other collateral piece and find any of the following:

  • Boilerplate language. “We’re the best”. “Our products are top quality.” “We leverage our services to help our clients succeed.” You get the drift.
  • Spelling, typos, incomplete sentences or poor grammar of any kind.
  • The words try, strive, aim or any variation. Do you “try” to provide your customers with good service, or do you?
  • Bulleted lists of your services rather than meaningful explanations of them.
  • No call to action.
  • No compelling reason to do business with you instead of the other guy, except for the random statement about your “excellent customer service”.

Reason 2: You Designed Your Own Logo

This goes for any logo designed by your son/nephew/sister’s friend in college/any other person who calls him or herself an artist and who isn’t a professional brand creator. A logo is not merely your favorite piece of clipart coupled with your favorite sans serif font. It is, whether you believe it, like it, or not, a reflection of who you are in the marketplace.

Your logo is a visual representation of your business, the immediately recognizable mark that defines what your business is about – Edgy? Corporate? Contemporary? Strong? A cheap mess of mediocre Photoshop skills?

Your logo and brand help to build the emotional relationship that customers have with your business. Do yourself a favor and make it a good one.

P.S. If you don’t know what a sans serif font is and you still designed your own logo then you lose extra points.

Reason 3: None Of Your Marketing Pieces Work Together

You have a brochure left over from 1992 that you still dust off and use in a pinch. And you took the logo that your “artist” friend designed and slapped it onto a business card. Then you hired someone to build your website and later decided to “update” your brochure. The problem is that there is no cohesion, no “look” that you can hang your hat on and say, “That’s my business!”

If every single piece of your marketing collateral doesn’t work together with the same creative look and feel, your public image will be a mess. Here is a list of don’ts for you to stew about over that glass of wine:

  • Don’t get creative with colors. If your brochure leans to the blue family, don’t go with a web design that’s orange and yellow. And whatever you do, please don’t change the color of your logo for each holiday.
  • Don’t get creative with fonts. There are few things as awful as mixing and matching multiple fonts, whether it’s on one piece or across several.
  • Don’t switch styles. If your brochure is from 1986 and your website is cutting edge next-century, suck it up and get a new brochure. Cohesion is crucial.
  • Don’t suddenly get cheap. It may be tempting after you invested a lot of money in a great website and some direct mail pieces to save a few dollars by printing the cheap business cards, but if you do, your image will suffer.

Reason 4: Your Website Is Built In Flash

Flash should be used like a nice pair of earrings – an accent, but not the whole wardrobe.

Flash sites tend to be slow-loading and nobody wants to sit through your opening animation. Given current technology, Flash sites are inaccessible on some mobile devices (you know the ones). Are you willing to shrug off that percentage of the population? They’re also costly to maintain, which is why so many of them are outdated.

Rather than spend money recreating the Flash just to update an address, many companies prefer to ignore the problem. Plus, many of them are simply not done that well. Oh, and one more thing… they are completely non-indexable by search engines, so kiss your rank goodbye.

Reason 5: You Don’t Have A Facebook Business Page

Did you know that Facebook is the single most-visited site on the internet, outstripping Google for the title? Even if your business isn’t on Facebook, your customers are. Your competitors are, too.

Think about this: how many people do you suppose wake up in the morning and say, “Wow, I’ve really got to check out Billy Bob’s lawn service website today to see what they have to say about pruning my azaleas!”

Now how many people do you think wake up and automatically check their Facebook page? Then check it again when they get to the office? Then check it again at lunchtime? Then check it again on their phone while they stand in line at the grocery store? Then check it again before, during and after dinner? According to Facebook, 500 million of them.

I could give you reasons why you should be interacting with customers, meeting them on their turf, leveraging the incredible opportunity that social media offers to help your business stand out. But I won’t. I’ll only say: 500 million users.

Reason 6: You Update Your Facebook Page Once Every Three Months

A sad but true story: a non-profit organization that I support has a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated by its founders for several months. But it has been updated by spammers who have offered mail order wives among other unsavory things. Apparently nobody is paying attention and that’s as bad as – dare I say worse than – not having a Facebook page at all.

If you’ve thrown a Facebook page out there because you read the number 500 million and decided you needed to jump on the bandwagon, it’s time to seriously rethink that. If you don’t use the marketing tools at your disposal, they’re worthless. And in the example of the non-profit, can even be detrimental.

Reason 7: You’re Too Cheap

You don’t run a successful business without being mindful of budget, so you do need to contend with costs when you plan your marketing.

It’s important to spend your budget wisely and that doesn’t mean taking the generic “I got this template with the free hosting” route. Some people deal with the issue of budget by avoiding it altogether. For these people, cheapest is always best.

These people often don’t have a vision and don’t view marketing as a holistic effort but a series of mini-requirements. Everyone’s got a website, so they need one too – without a sense of what that website will accomplish for their business.

Without a vision or a plan or any idea of what they want to accomplish besides saving money, these people will always go down the cheap road and then complain that they’ve wasted money. And, in fact, they have, because any money spent this way is money wasted, however large or small the sum.

Reason 8: You Aren’t Measuring Anything

Whether you’ve planned for ages or sent out an email campaign on a whim, spent a fortune or nothing at all, pulled together a stunning brand image or copied some free clipart, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t measuring the success of your efforts.

You must be tracking analytics on your website, open rates on your emails, responses to your direct mail. You should be A/B testing and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. If you’re not analyzing and evaluating your practices, you’ll never know whether your marketing is bringing in brilliant returns or just using up your time and money.

Then, you might ask, how can I say your marketing sucks if there is no measurement to prove it? To that I say, go ahead and prove otherwise.

As you read through these 8 reasons, did you find yourself grudgingly admitting that you can see your business reflected in some of the examples? Don’t fear, bad marketing is not a permanent disorder. It’s quite fixable if you take the time to admit the problem and resolve to do better in the future.

You may stumble along the way and make a few mistakes, but marketing is a journey and not a destination, so open your eyes, pay attention and make the journey worthwhile.

Are YOU willing to admit to making any of these marketing mistakes?

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Jack says:

    All good points, Carol. As a copywriter, I cringe at the copy I read on some “professional” websites. Don’t businesses realize that their primary tool for communicating their message to prospects is copy?

    I emphasize the importance of strong copy to all my clients. Unfortunately, reasons one and seven often go hand in hand. Copy has always got its neck on the chopping block.