Three Critical Mistakes Struggling Brands Are Making

Larry Alton

It’s a good time to be a small business owner in the United States. The economy is clicking on all cylinders, tax laws are friendly, and discretionary spending is up.

Thanks to growth in cloud technology and the democratization of the Internet, barriers to entry are comparatively low. This means industries that were once dominated by a few major players can now be infiltrated by smaller companies that have unique value to offer customers.

Despite all the positive trends and signs, however, some brands continue to miss the mark and make one costly mistake after another.

Three mistakes brands make

If your business isn’t experiencing growth in this economy, you’re probably going nuts trying to figure out why this is the case. When you dig and explore the underlying factors, you may find you’re making one of the following common, yet critical, errors.

1. It’s all about me

In previous decades, marketing was heavily brand-centric. Everything centered on the brand and what set it apart from the competition.

Today, this is only a small part of the content in digital marketing. If you make the story too much about yourself, you’re liable to turn people off. What you might need is a customer-centric strategy.

A customer-centric marketing strategy labors to put the customers and their needs first. Instead of touting your brand as the best at X, Y, and Z, you start by acknowledging that your customers have struggles (which you’ll ultimately suggest may be solved by X, Y, and Z).

Today, the most customer-centric companies in the marketplace are focused on such things as:

  • Performance video: Visual content like performance video is more powerful than ever. Not only can it be engaging from a viewer’s perspective, but it’s easy to track and optimize from the brand side of things.
  • Social media: Selfish brands view social media as a captive audience they can spray unceasingly with ads and promotional marketing. Customer-centric brands regard it more as a two-way street, where listening is just as important as speaking.
  • Content marketing: Content is how you cultivate trust. By creating content that provides value to your readers – such as how-to articles and guides – you show them that you understand and you care.

Ditch the me-first mentality and prioritize your clients. Counter-intuitive though it may seem, you’ll end up getting better long-term results.

2. Not actively monitoring your brand

It’s easy to let your own thoughts and opinions about your brand color reality. In other words, you might think one thing is true about your brand, but the majority of the marketplace may feel another way.

If you aren’t actively monitoring your brand image online, you can’t be sure. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to monitor what others are saying about your product or service.

Social listening tools are easily obtainable, and you can track details like brand mentions and backlinks with just a few clicks. Take advantage of this, and use the results to optimize your marketing and branding efforts.

3. Failing to connect with influencers

Influencer marketing is invaluable in today’s social media-focused arena. Unfortunately, many brands don’t bother to leverage social influencers. Of the ones that do connect with social media influencers, only a small percentage of brands employ them with skill.

A common mistake brands make is not being organic enough. They try to demand too much from influencers, which ends up compromising the partnership and creating a whole host of problems.

“One, this makes the [content] less trustworthy, as the tone of voice and personality will disappear from the content,” advertising expert Helene Thorsen writes. “Two, it decreases relevance and the organic reach gained from using influencer platforms. Three, it might result in the influencers not wanting to be part of the campaign.”

The key with influencer partnerships is to step back and rely on the other party to connect with their audience. If you take the time to select the right influencers, you won’t have to worry about your product reaching and appealing to their followers.

Refining your strategy

Let this article serve as a mirror for your current marketing and branding efforts. If you notice something is off, now’s the time to take corrective action.

It’s not enough to recognize you have a problem. In order to nudge your business in the right direction, you have to turn away from your mistakes and toward a better strategy.

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About Larry Alton

Larry is a freelance marketing & technology consultant with a background in IT. Follow him on Twitter @LarryAlton3.