So.. the big marketing news of the week : Yahoo has a new logo.. semi - new I should say because it looks like the old one.
Yahoo unveiled their new logo 20 hours ago and it's a bore - why? Because it was designed internally by product creators and engineers. That is why coders shouldn't design websites, administrative people shouldn't create brands and fifteen year old nephews shouldn't run social media pages - this applies to any size business. Bad alignments create bad outcomes.
This event really made me think about a few things that I hear every day when I sit in front of small business owners to discuss how to grow their business, build a solid brand and ensure they have credibility. Yahoo made the mistake of thinking they could do it all instead of getting a solid company to do it for them - the outcome was an over- engineered, boring and 'vision-less' logo.
How does this tie in with SME's? In business, (integrated) marketing is what helps you generate the most revenue, get in front of the right people, get credibility and capture more high involvement (with the most dollars in the upper range of your target market) clients. In saying that, it is the first cut businesses make when they aren't making enough money. Doesn't this sound entirely counter-productive? I have seen businesses spend more money on getting accountants involved to see a $1000 increase in their return when the end of financial year hits, another one that we see regularly in new business is getting a really good accountant on board when they haven't made their first dollar yet and the rest of their business isn't structured enough to attract their first client.
Marketing mistakes that we see almost every week :
- Businesses still using static sites - with no CMS at the back. The inability to write blog posts and publish them when you want, change images and change content makes your business look stagnant and devoid of change. Did you really just ask me why you aren't on the first page of Google?
- Logos designed in Word or purchased for $10.00 on a crowd sourcing site. Don't get me wrong I have nothing against crowd sourcing but do you really think that someone who has never visited the market you operate in, who doesn't ask you questions about your business goals and who has no idea what your story is about - can really give you amazing branding for your new business and help you grow?
- Coders/programmers/analysts who make websites. Everyday, we see SME's save a couple of hundred dollars by getting programmers or IT people to make their websites. What that results in 80% of the time are websites you can click on but which look terrible and have no marketing purpose whatsoever. The next thing we hear after a few months is " Nobody goes to my website." - a quick look at Google Analytics (if it has been provided) shows that yes they do but they leave very quickly.
- "My nephew runs my Facebook page". That seems like a very sound business decision since your nephew goes to school full time and has no commercial experience. Social Media is one of the most interactive methods of communicating with your audience, reinforcing your brand and capturing customer insights - why would you get a completely inexperienced person to do it for your business?
- "Our Marketing Coordinator (who is an arts student majoring in philosophy) will speak to you". In some cases, the marketing coordinator we meet up with has some experience and is qualified in marketing. 60% of the time, they are still at uni, have no idea how to run a business, have never done a marketing plan in their lives and do not understand the importance of marketing in the cash flow process. Why would you delegate one of the most important parts of your business to someone who will give you no return?
- "We use Vistaprint". I have nothing against Vista for promotional items and other things but purchasing all your branding on Vista and thinking that you will have maximum market impact is quite ironic. I always say if you want me to pay Mercedes prices for your services then you will need to look and act like Mercedes. I like leaving networking events with 4 or 5 cards which look identical because they were purchased on Vista, trust me to remember which one your business was.
- "I don't need a marketing plan". This one is quite interesting - most business awards and coaches reinforce the fact that the second most important document after your business plan is your marketing plan. The reason for that is that you then have a blueprint for your marketing activities - making it easy to experiment and change when required, to measure investment and to know where you are heading. I would say that out of ten businesses that we meet up with, one might have a plan.
- "We can't afford it". For me this one is an excuse to keep money in the bank, we see businesses which have been operating anywhere between 2-10 years repeat over and over again that they have no money to invest in marketing. It makes me wonder - if you have been in business for that long and you can't find an extra $2000 to improve your business - how come you are still operating? When I started the agency, I put all my savings into getting the brand and the marketing model right. Marketing expenses are tax deductible just like any other expense and will give you a better return than these overly expensive red lounge chairs in your reception or this super expensive accounting package you were told you should have.
- Sending ugly emails. Every week I receive from businesses, a series of ill - designed PDF's and plain emails which are described as their 'newsletter' to which I never subscribed to in the first place. Why would you burn your chances of collaborating with a business or a person by introducing your business as an annoying and interrupting business? Don't be surprised if I unsubscribe (if the option is even available).
- QR codes galore. People nowadays put QR codes on their websites... may I ask why? I am on your site and you are getting me to scan a QR code which redirects me to the site I am already on. Still following? Another thing that I see regularly is putting QR codes on badges, T-shirts and other things - as a woman do you really think that when I go to a professional event I want you to stare at my chest and scan something which sometimes take 3 or 4 goes to work? Exchanging business cards gives me a feel for your business (branding) and is a symbolic gesture in order to start a relationship, I'd rather stick to that.
- "We do our own marketing". "Great.. and how is that working out?" "At the moment we aren't really making our targets and we can't really capture new business." If you have an inhouse A-team to help you then by all means keep this process going but if your marketing refers to a monthly BBQ with 5 clients and using your personal page to promote your business - please put your ego aside and get some help.
- We cold call and we sound like unprepared robots. Cold calling can be extremely efficient if it's done properly - or should I say 'Warm Calling'. My question is " Do you answer cold calls?" - you already know the answer to this.. so why do you expect me to answer yours?
I could go on and on about the things that we see on a daily basis which can really impact a business' capacity to be dynamic, innovative and fresh and ultimately..to make money.
What I'd really like to encourage is a shift of perspective in your business when it comes to marketing, marketing isn't an extra thing that you might have to think about one day - it is a core activity. I think that there is a giant education process required to make this shift happen - I personally have declared war against daggy marketing. I can guarantee that when I meet up with a business and check out their branding - I know immediately how much effort has been put into their marketing. Marketing is everything in your business from your branded invoices to how you answer the phone. Don't be a Yahoo.
If my very honest perspective has encouraged you to think about how you do things, feel free to get in touch.