I’m currently watching a company on its way out of business. The writing has been on the wall for awhile, it’s not pretty, and the worst part is, it was completely avoidable.
Since the errors this business made along the way are too numerous to mention, I’ll just provide a quick overview. Starting with a solid business model targeting an under-served target audience, this company quickly began shooting at a harder-to-reach target audience before it ever got established. When that failed, the firm changed its focus almost weekly in a desperate attempt to be any and all things to all people. In the end, the business was left with a brand it couldn’t clearly define and a product it couldn’t sell.
A big part of the reason this company failed to sell what it offered was the fact that its marketing and advertising changed as often as its focus. And, the reason for that was, this company, which directly employed no one with any advertising experience, was attempting to do its own advertising. In addition to poorly written and executed ads with obvious stock photos and social media that was often wildly off-brand, this company relied on an inconsistent, do-it-yourself ad strategy that was alternately ham-handed, half-baked or hilariously bad.
I’ve ranted about the perils of DIY before and, while it should be common sense, it still happens. That aside, there are companies who do their own advertising and marketing and do it well. Further, I’ve seen any number of businesses who have been quite successful doing their own advertising strictly on the web and social media. However, there are many more companies, like my example above, who wind up DOA directly because of their bad DIY advertising and marketing. Is it the only reason that business is failing? Probably not. But, poorly executed advertising and an undefined brand that didn’t contribute one iota to the bottom line certainly didn’t help.
So, how can your small business avoid a similar fate? For one, stick to what your business is focused on and, if you don’t have someone in-house who can help out, let someone whose business is advertising help with the advertising. If your budget doesn’t allow that, develop a consistent marketing plan and stick to it. DO make sure every radio, TV, print, direct mail or banner ad, Facebook post and Tweet you produce consistently defines and promotes the brand promise your company is offering your target audience. Keep track of what hits your goals and what doesn’t and, at the end of six months or a year, adjust your marketing toward what works.
DON’T pivot your entire marketing plan (or your business plan for that matter) around just one element of the program or a blip in results. Instead, focus on keeping your brand message consistent and defined across a variety of channels to maximize the efficiency of your marketing plan.
Good do-it-yourself advertising won’t kill your business. However, poorly planned and executed DIY advertising and marketing that doesn’t consistently support your brand can leave you DOA, no matter how many Facebook Likes or re-tweets you might have.
Copywriting and design do matter. And, if you aren’t a copywriter and/or designer or don’t have someone in-house who can help you with your advertising and marketing, drop us a line. We can get your business on track PDQ!
See also: Is Your Advertising and Marketing an Expense or an Investment?