Marketing your business seems like it should be straightforward. You have a product or service, and market it to your target audience. But what happens when unusual challenges won’t give you a break? Here are some tips to master marketing in less than perfect times.

5 Top Marketing Challenges and Ways to Overcome Them

1. COVID-19. No one could predict a global pandemic would shut down the country for almost two years and counting, but here we are. Many business owners are still struggling to promote their services and connect with clients, and a majority continue to work from home.

So, what’s the solution?  Rather than pretending COVID doesn’t exist and continuing with pre-pandemic marketing campaigns, adjust your strategy and promote your business to fit with what’s going on.

Amazon nailed it in their 2020 Holiday campaign that tugged on heartstrings. The ad featured a young ambitious ballerina, heartbroken when her recital was cancelled due to COVID. The day was saved (of course) when her sister ordered a spotlight from Amazon, and created flyers to promote the neighborhood event. As you’d expect, there was a snowy roof-top performance as friends and family watched from nearby balconies, applauding the young girl’s dance routine and unexpected entertainment.

Granted, this may seem a bit dramatic for your business, but it plays to what’s important – experiences and emotions people can relate to during the pandemic. It’s also an uplifting story that creates a sense of hope during a difficult time – and a local press opportunity that beckons coverage.

2. Keeping up with new platforms and apps. As a marketer, you know about LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, Pinterest, Nextdoor, and Alignable. New apps are released on almost a daily basis, and you’ll get overwhelmed if you think you need a presence on every platform. Chose the best two channels for your business and focus on those. Add another platform if there’s a reason to, and test-drive to see what works. More is not always better for your business or your life.

Start with basic marketing and demographic questions about your target market. Who are you trying to reach? Are they local, regional, or national? Do you envision mass marketing where everyone is a potential customer, segmented marketing where you focus on two or more primary markets, concentrated marketing or niche marketing to a particular audience, or micro marketing? That’s where you target a specific group within a niche market – which can be either small groups or individuals.

Do some research and focus on the apps and platforms that will best serve your business and meet your short-term and long-term goals.

3. New privacy regulations. People are increasingly concerned about their privacy, especially online. Social platforms and devices are tightening security and allowing customers to opt out of data tracking, customized ads, sharing personal information, and more. This means digital marketers have less access to data to find leads and prospects, and are looking for other strategies to compensate. They also have to comply with new regulations, giving customers easy access to privacy information, opting out, and editing or deleting their personal data.

Rather than trying to hide these new privacy regulations, some businesses have embraced this strategy, prioritizing the security and privacy of their clients. The takeaway? Make your clients’ values your values, too. If you make them feel safe and comfortable sharing information with you, you’re more likely to earn their trust.

4. Getting traffic, leads, and prospects. The pandemic, new platforms, and new privacy regulations have all contributed to challenges marketers have faced in generating traffic, leads, and prospects. Another marketing challenge is creating content that people really want to see and engage with.

Survey your target market, listen to your clients and ask what type of content they prefer.  Stats don’t lie. Most people would rather watch a video than read an article to get information. Create polls, surveys, and fun ways to get feedback. Create content that they’re looking for. If you’re not sure what that is, look at what’s popular with your audience and with your competitors.

5. Measuring ROI. Finally, return on investment (ROI) has remained a challenge for marketers in 2021. How do you estimate ROI and the effectiveness of your marketing campaign? Here’s a basic formula. ROI = (Sales Growth – Marketing Costs) / (Marketing Costs). This formula isn’t entirely accurate, because it attributes all sales growth directly to marketing efforts – which isn’t true.

Another approach for a more accurate estimate is to figure out the average organic growth of sales prior to the start of a new marketing campaign and subtract that growth in the equation; ROI = (Sales Growth – Average Organic Sales Growth – Marketing Cost) / (Marketing Cost).

You don’t have to be a math genius to evaluate the numbers. With the help of technology, many website and presentation platforms include built-in analytics that give you valuable ROI data. You can also use tools like HubSpot and HubSpot’s CRM solution to get a better measure of your marketing’s effectiveness. 

As John C. Maxwell said, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” Optional isn’t really a choice as far as I’m concerned. My passion is to help you grow your business, increase visibility, and profitability. To live life with purpose, market your brand with intention, and have fun in the process.

To stay up to date on current marketing trends and tips, follow my podcast, the Fast Marketing Minute. It’s bite-sized marketing at its best.

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