Middle-market companies are in a unique position when it comes to seeking growth. While these companies may not have the immediate brand recognition of an industry giant, they often have the resources to run a multichannel marketing campaign. However, all the ad money in the world won’t drive growth if a company isn’t using the right strategies.
Below, the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share 15 common marketing mistakes midsize companies make that might be inhibiting their sales and growth — and what they should be doing instead.
1. Talking about what you do rather than the problem you solve
A common mistake is creating marketing content that sells what you do versus talking about the problems you solve for your customers. It’s easy to write content that details the services you provide. It requires much more time and research to understand how your clients experience your service and the impact that it has on their day-to-day operations. – Tim Tiller, MyTek Technology Solutions
2. Cutting the marketing budget too soon
One big mistake is to cut back on marketing spending when positive results appear. I would argue that a growth-oriented company needs to let its marketing budget grow with revenue rather than thinking, “It worked!” at the first small result. – Beth Waterfall, Beth Waterfall Creative
3. Not being bold about your story
Many middle-market brands are afraid to present their stories in a bold, differentiated way. They are humble — sometimes even deferential — to the behemoths in their category. Own your story and stand out! – Lauren Parker, FrazierHeiby
4. Being too focused on short-term goals
Middle-market companies tend to prioritize short-term objectives, which often results in paid advertising campaigns. The mistake is a failure to invest in long-term marketing strategies such as search engine optimization. Companies that can balance short-term objectives with long-term marketing investments can build a strong and sustainable sales and growth engine. – Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
5. Not catering to each stage of the buying process
One mistake is not using the right resources for the unique stages of the customer’s buying process. This includes creating awareness about the firm’s very differentiated product, getting customers interested enough to try the product and then purchase it, and setting the repurchasing cycle. Depending on products and markets, firms need unique, effective resources for success in each stage as well as a way to hand off from one stage to another. – Pradeep Anand, Seeta Resources
6. Failing to identify and measure success metrics
Marketing needs to deliver a concrete return on investment. Many mid-market companies get tricked into expensive marketing programs without identifying the success metrics and return in advance. Any marketing program that doesn’t deliver results in 90 days should be scrutinized very carefully. – Kimberly Lucas, Goldstone Partners
7. Creating a too-short marketing communications plan
Sales cycles can stretch out for months. One common marketing mistake of mid-market companies is creating a tactical marketing communications plan that’s too short for the cycle. When the communication flow dries up before the lead is ready to take the next step, you miss opportunities. To fix it, look at the cycle length and your communication flow. If they are not in sync, adjust. – Linda Bishop, Thought Transformation
8. Thinking marketing is a waste of money
First and foremost, a middle-market company needs to understand the importance of marketing to know it’s a necessary expense to grow a brand. They should also understand that marketing can and should have ROI associated with it so they don’t think it will be wasted money — just part of the overall business investment. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
9. Turning efforts on and off
A common mistake is turning marketing on and off, whether that be a focus on SEO, advertising or anything else. Too often companies are reactionary and don’t stay the course. It’s important to react if something isn’t working or push further when something is working, but you also have to cultivate your marketing, just as you do any other part of your business. – Eric Moraczewski, NMBL Strategies
10. Not integrating sales and marketing efforts
The biggest growth-inhibiting mistake I’ve seen mid-market companies make is not integrating sales and marketing efforts. I’ve worked with more than a thousand clients over my career, and time and again I see sales and marketing teams that are siloed and do not talk. Even if the technology is shared or integrated, the company culture can create barriers to success. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.
11. Not keeping up with the times
Common mistakes in creating and deploying effective marketing strategies include failure to set and measure performance and return on investment targets and not keeping up with the times. Engagement, reactions and SEO-related analytics should be measured by channel and/or medium. Similarly, if your target audience is on TikTok or MeWe, you may need to add those channels. – Joey Johnsen, Zeevo Group LLC
12. Not concentrating resources
Some companies neglect to plan out their marketing efforts. Before investing money, you need to have clear goals for results. Don’t try to market to everyone, because your message could get lost. Concentrate your resources to have the greatest impact. Know your target customers’ needs, the way they consume information and how they make purchasing decisions. – Chris Friel, VoDaVi Technologies
13. Measuring ROI based on short-term results
A big mistake is to measure marketing investments based on immediate, short-term results. Yes, it’s important to monitor and adjust as needed, but often marketing investments are better measured over a longer horizon, which can be months or years. – Russell Harrell, SFB IDEAS – a Strategic Marketing firm
14. Assuming you don’t have to market yourself
Avoid the mistake of assuming you do not have to market yourself! The best thing to do for your business includes knowing how you will deal with excess business when you do not yet have the business or once you are in a slump. If you wait until you have an overabundance of business to begin considering this, you will be too late. – Wesleyne Greer, Transformed Sales
15. Not having the right partner
Just like buying a house or a car, when marketing it’s important to find the right partner who understands and has the reference to walk you through what you are trying to do. Let them provide their vision. This also means you need to let go of control and let the experts do it. – Gene Yoo, Resecurity, Inc.