You may find the following too brutal, so if you are of a sensitive disposition I would advise you move along. You may not like what you’re about to hear.
The simple truth is that your business communication sucks. There, I said it.
Your marketing, lead-generation, advertising, online presence, collateral – you name it. It’s as relevant today as a black-and-white TV. It’s as useful as second-hand toilet paper – and about as fragrant.
You know why your business communication is so bad? Because everything you do that your customer sees (i.e. everything you do) is based around a combination of assumptions, habits and old-wives’ tales that have their roots dating back to the Industrial Revolution.
- Because you’re still thinking “if we build it, they will come.“
- Because you think that what worked yesterday is going to work tomorrow.
- Because you believe the reason your company’s turnover continues to head south is due to The Economy / The Competition / China / Sunspots / Whatever.
- Because you know that you need to do something, but you’re too scared of changing what worked so well for so long.
- Because you think what the customer is buying is what you’re selling.
It seems that pretty much every day yet we hear about yet another company going to the wall. Brands that we may have grown up with. Companies that have been in business for decades.
This proves one simple thing: No-one cares how good you used to be.
Most companies today are fighting to maintain relevance in an online world where the customer holds all the trump cards. Today’s customer is more astute, more informed, more knowledgable and more demanding than at any other time in history. Today’s customer has changed radically, yet many companies are still using sales, marketing and communications tactics that were created more than a generation ago. How’s that working for you?
There’s No Business Communication Plan
Unless you have a plan you can never know whether what you’re doing is working. Without strategy there can be no ROI. To measure results you need to have something to measure – and measure against. If your company doesn’t have a marketing plan then it says you see marketing as a cost rather than an investment. However, that doesn’t mean that everything’s cast in stone. If you are marketing your business from a fixed yearly budget, you’re still considering marketing as an expense.
You Don’t Know Your Customers
Who’s your ideal customer? Where are they, what do they look like, what do they expect from you? I’m not talking about the customers that you have now – I’m talking about new customers. Customers that you don’t know today. I’m betting that the reasons why new customers buy from you is different to why your existing customers came to you.
You’re chopping and changing too quickly without giving things time to gestate. You’re all over social media channels for six months but don’t get any sales, so you move on to the next thing. You pay for an ad, the phone doesn’t ring, so you stop advertising. Today more than ever marketing is about taking a long-term view in earning reputation, respect and trust from your customer – that doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t sow and reap in the same season.
You’re Not Where Your Customers Expect You To Be
Am I talking about social media channels? Well, perhaps. Much depends on your particular business. Maybe your customers expect you to be on Twitter, or Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Google+, or even Pinterest. Or maybe they just expect to find a regularly-updated company blog containing news and information that has relevance (i.e. not a load of corporate chest-beating about how great you think you are).
While on the subject of blogs, the single-biggest issue that we see with companies are useless websites. Not only in terms of content, but in design, structure, mobile device friendliness, information and SEO. If your website’s content isn’t optimally structured, potential customers won’t find you from a Google search. If you don’t appear in the first couple of pages of a search result then you may as well not exist.
You Make It Too Hard To Buy From You
Sales enquires get answered a week later – with the wrong information. Your reservation is at eight, but you’re kept waiting half an hour. “Thank you for holding, your call is important to us”. Really?
Stand in your own queue. Look at the buying experience from a customer (a NEW customer) point of view. Phone the office with Caller ID turned off. Fill-in the contact form on the website. Submit a support enquiry. Ten will get you five that you won’t like what you find.
You’re Flat-Out Boring
You’re not saying anything that 101 other companies aren’t already saying. Why should customers buy from you, rather than someone else? Oh, and please don’t say it’s because you’ve been in business for 50 years, that you have better people, better product, better prices, etc. Those are not your USPs. My friend Andy Hanselman sums it up best: “USPs” stands for “Usual Stuff People Say”.
Average marketing isn’t going to cut it any longer. Customers are bombarded with messages all day, every day. Unless you’re standing out, you’re drowned-out.
Adapt, Evolve – Or Face Irrelevance
Thankfully, it’s not about spending hours wading through complex measurement tools looking for the right metrics that will show that – hurrah! – your marketing programs are working. Nor is it about tarting-up your Facebook page, blasting out more Tweets, redesigning your brochures, or changing your company logo.
It’s much simpler than that. It’s also much harder than that: Your marketing has to be better.