What an amazing time to be an innovative entrepreneur. Technology, globalization and entrepreneurship are all evolving rapidly, allowing for advancements that no one thought possible just a few years ago. My own professional area, international marketing, is barely recognizable from 2002 and much less from 1992. But even as your company jettisons into the future, here are five mistakes in marketing strategy to avoid:
If you follow the competition’s marketing, you’ll only ever be a 2nd best version of their success. The best marketing strategies are built around a company’s unique competitive advantages. I met with a small company recently that had developed an email marketing program that would be the envy of companies five times their size. Any marketing strategy for this company would need to center around this well-developed marketing channel. I even have my own copycat competitor who mirrors my marketing efforts in social media a few weeks or months after I have developed a new tactic. In the end, copying others loses the leverage of your unique advantages and poorly copies the advantages of your competition.
2. Delivering Highest Quality at the Lowest Price
In high-tech markets we frequently see this issue: wanting to be all things to our customers. The truth is that your business strategy should match your core competencies. The two most popular strategies are Low-Cost Leader and Differentiation. But when you incur the expenses to differentiate – to develop and deliver a superior product, charging the lowest cost can fatally undermine your profit margin. Instead, pick the strategy that fits your competitive competencies best and build your operations and marketing programs around those strengths. Feel free to charge premium pricing if you see market demand for your high-quality product. Likewise, if your product is not the most innovative then work on lowering production costs and appealing to the cost-conscious buyer. Either way, make the choice.
3. Competing in Red Oceans
A great business book, Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, brought to the mainstream an important issue that technology companies often face. New companies tend to join an industry and allow themselves and the market segment to be defined by the existing competitors. Technology companies are typically offering new or better solutions to problems. Instead of competing head to head for what is often a saturated market space, look for market segments in your home market or abroad. That can often mean that you define your new space and then defend that space from new entrants. If you haven’t already done so, I recommend that you read this book.
4. Not Measuring Marketing Results
I used to work for a growing healthcare software company that never measured any quantifiable metrics from their marketing programs. Needless to say, the company also never reached its financial objectives and the shortfall depreciated the company stock price quarter after quarter. They just continued to repeat the same marketing mix from month to month. When the marketing team finally agreed to allow for measuring, they discovered that the most expensive marketing programs were the least effective and that based on win rates and average sales cycles the sales pipeline was woefully lacking in enough leads to meet sales objectives. ALWAYS measure because metrics can be actionable information and even the best market programs need occasional tweeking. Nowadays there are many free and near-free tools to help even the smallest marketing team to track marketing and sales activities all over the world.
5. International Distributors Are Appropriate for Every Industry
International expansion is not the right choice for every company, let alone using distributors for foreign market entry. Technology companies may be putting their intellectual property at risk by sharing their cutting-edge technology with an untested source. Also, distributors who approach newly internationalizing companies often are looking for easy sales that require little marketing or sales effort. If the technology company truly has an innovative technology, it may be safer to sell directly to overseas customers.
I hope that you and your technology company can avoid these particularly painful strategic marketing mistakes. For more information about B2B international marketing, please read additional articles from International Marketing Consultant, Becky DeStigter. To contact Becky directly, call +303.601.2566.