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November 3, 2015

9 Bad Marketing Habits You Should Quit This Year

Marketing done right can get you a lot of attention, not to mention traffic and accolades.

The sad thing is that marketing is rarely ever done right.

Many of us as marketers have started our journey and learned as we went along. Quite a lot of online marketing professionals started off by being self-taught and incorporating this knowledge into acquiring qualifications in line with their expertise.

The problem with coming to the table having trained yourself is that you tend to pick up some pretty bad habits along the way.

Regardless of what professional field you are talking about, be it engineering, science or psychology, there will be amateur individuals that teach themselves the basics of the craft and then go on to become fully trained professionals in the field. Their final result can be quite impressive on occasion, but their methodology is flawed.

Identifying the 9 Worst Marketing Habits So You Can Avoid Them

What you should consider doing in this coming year is finding the habits that crop up and make you look like an amateur. Do any of these habits apply to you?

1. Keep Data in its Place: Analytics is one of the new buzzwords that the Internet has taken to using when it comes to tracking statistics of your marketing efforts. Analytics is an innovative way to garner information and by representing this information in a format that is easily readable, you can make critical decisions that can improve your efforts. Analytics is based on the idea of self-improvement. Your marketing campaign’s final ability to influence customers can be quantified and analyzed, giving you tangible results with which to make your decisions.

The bad habit that marketers cultivate (especially those coming over from the traditional field into the digital world) is that they tend to become overwhelmed by the data they have.

There is simply too much data to try to process all of it. In order to fully realize the benefits analytics has to your marketing efforts you need to prioritize. This translates into figuring out which KPI’s matter the most to you and focusing on those. If you try to do too much with your data, then it becomes more of a hindrance than a help. Try to compartmentalize the “good” data and throw out all the excess filler.

2. Skipping Steps in Brand Development: Branding is one of the most important things that marketing professionals do. Developing a brand and growing it to become a major player is one of the dreams of every marketer. To get branding done right, however, there are a series of things that you need to do before your brand can get off the ground. Branding personifies your business and everything your business does comes from the idea that the brand represents to the customers. Poor brand development leads to a nightmare when it comes to customer relations.

You might think that you can leave out a few steps and cut to the chase. Maybe you don’t need to develop content around your brand. Maybe all you need is a great logo? Possibly if you advertise enough people will start noticing you’re around? Just like firing an arrow at a target, you need to have an idea of what you want your brand to be and aim for it. Not having a plan for your branding will only end with your brand failing spectacularly.

3. Falling Prey to Quantity over Quality: In the old days, there was a saying that went “more is better.” While the general idea is that more can be better, it isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to marketing content. Good content varies from bad content because good content gives something back to your audience. It allows your audience to look forward to what you’re creating and to enjoy it in their own way. When you have good content, you keep your audience coming back for more.

Marketing content is supposed to be produced regularly in order to keep the rapport going with your audience. Because of the tight schedule, some marketers cut corners with their content production and start creating substandard content. We can’t expect you to produce great, clear, concise content all the time (that’s why auditing exists: to throw out the substandard content), but you should try to create great content as much as possible. You’ll know you’re going in the right direction when your traffic numbers swell.

4. No Content Strategy: What is the aim of your content production? What are you trying to accomplish with your content? Are you trying to sell to the consumer or simply to build the customer’s loyalty? Critical questions like these help you to develop a content strategy that can be used to direct your content production efforts. Having a plan is important in doing content marketing because it allows you to focus on what you need to accomplish. Just like every other plan, a content strategy plots your success through steps that would lead to you having a loyal customer base at the end of it all.

What are you doing when you start creating content without a content plan? You’re firing into a forest and hoping one of your shots bags a deer. It’s one of the most frustrating exercises in futility. Your content needs to speak to someone and it needs to accomplish an aim. If it doesn’t have an aim, then why was it created? Having the right tools to develop marketing content is only halfway there. You have to have a road-map to know where you’re going and how to get to your destination. If you don’t have one yet, you can always consult a professional content production company for help with developing one.

5. Wanting to Do too Much: Does your audience NEED to know that? How does this benefit your audience? How does it advance your content strategy? Marketing is about getting the right information to the consumer at the right time. It focuses on covering the bases that need to be covered and converting the customer over to your point of view. How you go about this is your own decision. Every marketer has his or her own style. Some of us try to fit too much information in our content and instead of helping our cause it severely damages it.

Keep the information you present to the potential buyer concise and to the point as much as is possible. The new breed of consumer appreciates brevity and factual statements over appeals to emotion. Use that to your advantage (especially in campaigns that focus on social media). Twitter can only take 140 characters. You should say what you have to say within that space and not waste your potential buyer’s time with excess information that is of no concern to them.

6. Not Making a Personal Connection: The Internet has made it very easy to be impersonal with our marketing tactics. Connections over digital media are fleeting and they don’t come with any emotional attachment. In the past a smile, a handshake and some clever conversation could ingrain you with a client within the first few minutes of meeting them. Now, it takes quite a lot more to get into a potential buyer’s good graces. The short attention span that many consumers have today only seems to exacerbate the problem.

Stop treating your clients like names on a list to be called or e-mailed and discarded until the next e-mail round comes around. Make connections and start conversations. Remember that marketing is all about making that human connection despite all the odds stacked against it. Utilize your ability to discuss things with your customers personally. They will appreciate you for it. In this digital age, finding genuine human connection is a rare thing and many customers value it above promises and features. Personal connections are the way that you can successfully win a modern consumer over to your side. Don’t underestimate the power of caring.

7. Don’t Follow Trends: When we were kids, we used to go for the thing that was most popular because everyone else was going for it. Many of us have grown up and have yet to outgrow this sort of mentality. Marketing is about finding what works for you. Since each company and each campaign is different (even if it’s based on another company’s campaign) you cannot hope to gain success by following a formulaic strategy. The thing that makes marketing an interesting field is that no two challenges are ever the same. Following a “tried and tested” method will work half the time, but has an equal probability of flopping.

Examine what you want to accomplish through your marketing campaign. See where you want your content to appeal to your consumers. Do you want to raise awareness? Would you prefer building customer loyalty and developing a customer base that you can reliably depend on? Develop your own methods for accomplishing your aims. There is always more than one way to solve a problem and by coming up with your own thoughts, you train yourself to see these problems from a different perspective and think about solutions that aren’t traditional. Sometimes the craziest ideas work out beyond your wildest dreams.

8. Stop Talking about Yourself: Telling a story and making your audience feel involved forms the backbone of good content marketing. You are trying to give them a reason to think positively about your brand. In order to do that you have to determine what the audience wants and try to link that to your brand image. However, how you do this differs greatly between B2C marketing and B2B marketing.

In B2B marketing, talking about yourself is expected. Businesses aren’t concerned with being the protagonists of their own story. They just want the facts, plain and simple. In B2C marketing, you need to talk less about your products and features and focus more on developing a story around the consumer. Studies have shown that consumers tend to buy more when they are faced with story-type marketing campaigns as opposed to factual and informative campaigns. You can still keep your facts in your marketing efforts, but consumers put a lot more stock in the stories you tell them.

9. Stop Waiting, Start Doing: In the recent past it has been the norm to see companies looking at how a particular marketing scheme was employed by other companies and adopting it to their own needs. With all the information we have on how certain campaigns perform and how successful they are in certain niches, there is no more need for you to wait and see how things turn out. Things have already “turned out” and the longer you wait the further behind you fall.

This comes from a double-pronged problem of procrastination and fear. Marketing is an inexact science (even with our tons of analytics to help us out). You never know what you’re going to get from campaign to campaign. But the good thing about marketing is that it’s flexible. Even if a particular type of campaign performs poorly at the start, we know enough about customer mentality and our own audience that we can adjust the campaign to be more successful as time goes along. Procrastination ends in certain failure because nothing can succeed if it never starts. Fighting your own instincts on this allows your marketing campaign to grow and evolve to the point where it takes on a life of its own.

Make the Decision to Change

Many of us have already fallen prey to at least one (if not more) of these bad habits in our marketing. Breaking a habit requires a concerted effort on your part. That’s why you can’t afford to waste time dwelling on what you’ve done so far. Make the decision to change your bad habits now.

While you’re working on them, consider hiring a professional content production company to aid you in filling out the gaps. Unless you take matters into your own hands you’re going to find yourself in some dire straits further down the road.


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Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.

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