Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of Care.com HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.
I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!
Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.
This Week’s Must-Read:
Who it’s for:
Every founder. Smart marketing is an on-going challenge.
Why it’s important:
Effective marketing is a challenge no matter what stage of business you are in. For early-stage businesses, it can be the difference between making it, or not. Marketing strategies and techniques change constantly making it difficult to know what works and what should be avoided. The Forbes Business Council has offered up sound advice on key marketing mistakes that create unnecessary drain on time and financial resources. Steer clear of these.
- Not Defining Your Customer First. Successful entrepreneurs are wired to think big and have obsessive focus on developing a feature-rich product or service. However, a successful marketing strategy is based on first narrowly defining the customer and what they care about.
- Not Tracking Results. Entrepreneurs often forget to do detailed tracking or marketing campaigns. Granular tracking is a necessity to determine if your marketing dollars are being effectively spent.
- Ignoring Your Product. The intersection of marketing and product development is where real growth happens. Build your marketing strategy in tandem with product strategy and vice versa.
- Failing to Look at the Holistic Strategy. The most common mistake is failing to view your marketing strategy in its entirety, as a customer experience ecosystem. Don’t become obsessed with one or a few components but ignore the others.
- Lack of Consistency. Consistency in your brand is critical. If you’re not being consistent in your imagery, lingo or message across platforms, there’s a high chance for failure.
- Too Much Experimentation Without Research. Many entrepreneurs play spaghetti: Throw it up and see what sticks. This usually results in constant change in strategy and tactics, and fewer sales. Do your research to identify a meaningful, compelling story and stay with it.
- Thinking You Need to Spend Big to Get Results. Sometimes the things that cost the least have a more lasting effect. Grassroots efforts which are more economical can target your specific demographic and have lasting impressions.
- Focusing Solely on Digital. Most marketing decisions today are made with digital strategy at the forefront. This is limiting, especially for high-touch, service-based businesses.
- Trying to Be Everywhere. A robust presence in every outlet – social, traditional, email, etc. – is the easiest way to spread a marketing strategy too thin and appear disingenuous. Take time to research where your target audience spends most of its time, and build a strategy focused on engaging your customers.
- Analysis Paralysis. You must be willing to make decisions based on data currently available, run with it, learn from it and then adjust along the way.
- Not Testing Your Strategies. It’s important to run trials on a new marketing strategy. Two to three trials of different efforts across same markets will show you which produces the best results.
- Forging Ahead Without Proof of Market Fit. In the early stages, it is extremely dangerous to execute a costly marketing strategy based on an untested hypothesis. Softly test your marketing message and pivot with learning.
- Investing Based on Assumptions. The strategy may make sense on paper, but how does it perform on the ground? Test the core thesis of your strategy in micro-markets. This step could be the difference between success or failure for a business.
- Expecting Others to Tell Your Story for You. Tell your own story until others begin to tell it for you. No one else can truly author your story but you.
- Giving Up After One Failure. If you believe that you have something great that solves real problems, take a step back and work to create a valuable differentiator.
Crafting marketing strategy, execution and a level of expense that aids in forward progress is critical and a challenge. Be purposeful and tangible. Measure and evaluate.
Additional reading on marketing strategy: