12 Outdated Marketing Strategies to Avoid Like the Plague (Part I)

A big problem we see with small business marketing is companies not knowing where to start. We get that, it can be hard knowing your first move. However, as a result they often look backwards – at what other businesses have done in years gone by, and follow suit.

The BIG problem with that though, is that often marketing strategies from the past simply don’t work anymore.

So here’s 12 strategies to avoid, along with a new solution for you.

ACTION: Ask yourself 3 questions as you read each strategy. Have I done this? Did it work? How can I improve?

Strategy 1: Buying a big box of flyers and other promotional materials. 
The Problem: The biggest problem with this is usually lack of strategy. Who are you going to give them to? What is the Call to Action on these? How are you going to distribute? A lot small businesses we talk to will have a box of old flyers somewhere gathering dust. On the other hand, where there is a “kind-of” strategy, it is usually ‘let’s get these out to as many people as possible’ or ‘let’s leave nicely fanned out piles in strategic places’, but ask yourself…when was the last time you picked up a flyer and acted upon it!? Flyers (and in the same vein: promotional pens, notepads, bags etc.) are so generic these days, they don’t have the same effect as what they once might have had.
Instead Try: We aren’t 100% anti-flyer. They can still have a place, but instead you need to be super targeted and each flyer needs to have a specific purpose (i.e. not simply listing all your services). For example you may want to give a client a flyer when they have finished your service to let them know how to continue. Or in a sales meeting you may want to leave some kind of promotional materials to remind the person of what was discussed, but in both these cases the flyer simply ‘added’ – it wasn’t the whole strategy.

Strategy 2: Blogging with no promotion 
The Problem: The internet is a noisy place. If you haven’t noticed already, the amount of blogs out there is unfathomable. So adopting a ‘write it and they will read’ strategy is – if you think about it – quite silly. If you don’t promote your blogs at all then the time you put into writing them is simply wasted.  Likewise if you think tweeting out your blog once is ‘promoting’  –  think again!
Instead Try: A good promotional strategy is essential for getting your blogs read. You should regularly be posting out your content across all your communication platforms (Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, Email etc.) to ensure the reach is maximised. We LOVE Edgar for making this really easy.

Strategy 3: Sending out mass sales letters
The Problem: We regularly get these through the door and they all end up in the bin. They are usually unpersonalised and sometimes they are even advertising a service we don’t need. So the main problem with this strategy is that it is usually untargeted and unwarranted – not great!
Instead Try: Even though we are in a digital world – direct mail MOST DEFINITELY has a place, however you need to be clever. Instead use ‘Lumpy Mail‘ to a targeted audience to see fantastic results.

Strategy 4: Being first in the phone book
The Problem: Unless your target audience is 70+, as a small business the phone book is not a great place to spend your marketing budget. Why? Well did you not know there’s this thing called the internet now? Who says sarcasm is the lowest form of wit? But we see it time and time again, companies paying to be at the top. The phone book is dying – so don’t invest in a sinking ship. Even online directories we don’t hold much faith in paying for a better position.
Instead Try: A well optimised website for what people are actually searching for in your industry is a much better way of being found. Couple this with a fantastic website (more on that in Part II) and raving fans who are happy to recommend you, and don’t rely on the phone book anymore.

Strategy 5: 100% automated, scheduled or outsourced social media
The Problem: We love social media and we love all the awesome tools you can use to make social media work more efficiently and effectively for you. Being a small business ourselves, we are big advocates of automating and scheduling (and where appropriate outsourcing), as it speeds up the results you can get. However – by solely doing this, you are missing out on the real gem social media provides – real time interactions with your audience. Treating your social media like a robot isn’t going to work – because guess who is also actually talking to your audience like a real human being? Your competitors.
Instead Try: Only you are you. So you need to put that into your social media. So mix into your scheduled posts some real time interactions. Here’s an example of what we do – we have our blog posts scheduled to go out onto our platforms. These often get some kind of interaction (which is great – and shows the power of scheduling). However as soon as somebody interacts, we jump into the conversation ourselves (personally thanking them for sharing, replying to them etc.). By getting somebody to read our blog – our marketing is working, however the 1-1 interaction we have is so much more powerful – and you can’t automate that. Also use Twitter Lists to cut through the noise and interact with the people who matter most.

Strategy 6: Only engaging on social media with no sales strategy
The Problem: Engaging on social media (as we have just discussed), will get you so far, however it is easy to lose sight of why you are there in the first place – to increase your sales right? You don’t want to be one of those sales-y people on social media and chatting and engaging with your audience is important. But if you are just chatting and never actually moving people onto the buying stage – how is social media going to work for you? Again, there are a ton of businesses on social media now, so just being ‘nice’ (although extremely important), aint gonna cut it.
Instead Try: So you need a strategy and have clear in your head how social media is going to work for you. How about offering something for free in exchange for an email address? Or using your social networks to get people register for a webinar? Or use the built in advertising platforms to move people onto the next stage of your buying process. Or how about using social media to interact with key people of influence in your industry – that’s how we managed to get some key meetings set up when we attended Social Media Marketing World earlier this year.

So there you have it, the first outdated marketing strategies to avoid like the plague, check out the next 6 here >