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With 25 years of marketing experience under my heels, I can tell within minutes of observation what a business is doing right with its marketing and what they are doing wrong.
Most often, it’s simply the lack of a results-based marketing strategy. A marketing strategy is a plan of action designed to promote and sell a product or service. But often, companies I observe have no plan whatsoever — and worse, they aren’t tracking where their leads are coming from.
You need to craft a unique marketing strategy for your company that meets your specific needs and goals. To identify whether or not you need to rethink your current marketing plans, I have laid out 10 things you’re doing right now that show it’s time for change.
1. Your messaging is too broad
If you keep your messaging broad to appeal to everyone, it’s likely you’re failing to stand out with anyone. Instead, identify your ideal customer and appeal to them specifically.
Consider your best current customers and what they have in common. Do they share certain demographics or a specific reason for choosing you over the competition? You can always survey them and ask! The more information you have — and the narrower you can get your market — the better. Go niche to get the most out of your marketing, then slowly expand as you grow and get the hang of it.
2. Your message is the same as your competition
What makes your company different from the rest in your industry? If your branding, messaging and style look similar to your competitors, prospects won’t be able to differentiate you on anything other than price point.
You need a unique selling proposition that sets you apart from everyone else. Why should a prospect choose you over others who offer similar services or products?
Also, keep in mind that your unique selling proposition should be specific. Avoid anything too vague, like saying you have the “best product” or “best customer service” — something everyone claims.
3. You feel forced to lower prices to attract buyers
Are you lowering prices as a last resort to close customers? Consider how you can add more value to your products or services.
How does your business make their lives easier, save them time or achieve their goals? What can you do to make your brand worth the higher price point? Once you have discovered how to add value to your product or service, communicate it clearly to your audience.
4. You spend a lot of money on marketing but have no idea what’s working
Differentiating your marketing channels is always a great idea, however, neglecting to track the performance of all those channels — and which channels lead to the most sales — is problematic. You’ll end up wasting money and resources if you have no idea what is driving revenue.
The first step is to ensure you have a system for asking every new lead how they heard about you. At my company, PostcardMania, we ask every lead more than once — we ask on our website when someone fills out a form, via our live chat operators, and everyone who is a first-time caller. Don’t be afraid to drill this into your staff too, if you have to. We’re human, and we mean well, but we get easily distracted.
Once you understand where your leads and sales are coming from, you can analyze other must-track marketing metrics.
5. Your branding looks inconsistent
Although it can be daunting to update all of your marketing collateral every time you update your website or logo, it’s crucial that your messaging, logo and imagery match. Even your print ads should look like your Facebook ads.
You have a split-second to make an impression on prospects, and if your impressions aren’t cohesive, they aren’t going to help build awareness for your brand, and you’ve basically wasted your money. So, just remember: cohesive = consistency.
Related: 5 Marketing Tips for Brand Success
6. You have low customer retention rates
Retaining customers should be easier than reeling in new ones. Look at your sales funnel for returning customers, and see where you can trigger them to return, such as sending out emails, postcards using a current customer list and even Instagram ads.
You can also start a loyalty program that rewards customers for regular purchases. Discounts and other offers included in advertisements are also great ways to get people to come back to your website and browse for additional products and services.
7. You have a small online footprint
Believe it or not, there are businesses that still don’t have a website in 2023. If that’s you, get on it ASAP. Your business needs to be trustworthy, so if you have virtually no online presence, that’s going to set off alarm bells for prospects.
If a website isn’t in the cards for you right now, at least get your business on Facebook, Instagram and Google My Business. Build up your profiles there by posting regularly. It’s important that prospects feel like you’re a legitimate business and they have an outlet for recourse (like a place to leave a review) if things don’t work out.
I also suggest offering your services pro bono to a few friends and family at first, to help get you set up with a few good reviews right off the bat.
8. You ignore or don’t solicit feedback
Feedback can come from a variety of different places. As I mentioned, tracking your results and regularly reviewing your analytics will communicate what’s working and what isn’t. Certain key performance indicators like website traffic, phone calls, conversion rates and retention rates will help you get a health check on your marketing.
You also get feedback from word of mouth, Google reviews, in-person conversations and more. Some of this feedback can be prompted, and some of it will come to you naturally. You may have noticed that bad feedback makes itself known more readily than good, so be sure to be proactive about finding the good. I use Podium to manage my online reviews and require that all of our account managers personally ask clients to leave a review after service. With this feedback, I can correct any errors that we may have made, improve my business and also reward staff for rock-star performance.
9. You are missing out on referrals
Imagine if every new customer — or even every other new customer — automatically became two. That would be an immediate 50-100% bump in sales! That’s the power of referrals.
Research shows that 94% of customers will recommend a company they rate as “very good,” so the possibility of referrals is out there … you just have to be willing to go get them. A great way to do that is with a customer referral program that offers something — like a discount, a free item or the possibility of winning a prize like an iPad — to current customers for every referral they send your way.
Just be sure to market your referral program to new customers through email, direct mail, regular newsletters and any other methods you use to stay in touch with clients.
10. You are trapped in a cycle of zero growth
If you aren’t seeing any growth in your sales, it’s time to shake things up in your marketing. Try mailing postcards to prospects who visit your website and leave without converting. It’s a new technology called direct mail automation, and it can make a huge difference in converting leads that might’ve otherwise been lost. I may be biased since I sell postcards, but I also used them to build PostcardMania to a $97 million business. Direct mail works because it’s trustworthy. In fact, neurological research also shows that mail makes a deeper, more lasting impression on people.
Lastly, my best piece of advice to stir up more sales is to increase your marketing. Whatever you are doing, it isn’t enough to change your business’s trajectory. The amount of money you put into your marketing will reflect the return. The greater the investment, the bigger the results.