Why Do Businesses Succeed?

I’ve worked for a lot of big corporations, really big corporations. Frankly, they make a lot of very simple marketing mistakes.

In this blog post, I want to talk about the seven marketing mistakes that big corporate businesses make, how you can compete with them, and what your advantages are by staying small.

Remember, a lot of your business relies on taking money and attention away from not just your direct competitors, but other options.

I think there’s a big misconception that these huge corporations know what they’re doing.

1. Big broad, generic values and mission statements

One of the first big mistakes is big broad, generic values and mission statements.

Corporate businesses have a habit of rebranding every sort of seven to ten years. It typically happens just before or just after a buyout.

Then, they say, “Well, these are our new corporate brand values.”

They’ll say, “Integrity, Openness, and Honesty.”

They pay a branding company, hundreds of thousands of dollars to come up with these brand values and their C-level executives all sit around, jerking each other off going, “Oh yeah, that was very, very good. This is who we are.”

You literally could not have chosen anything more bland and boring and mainstream.

The reason that corporate businesses like to choose bland and boring and mainstreams is because they have shareholders. Shareholders hate risks.

But with that, they really don’t take any big stances. They don’t come up with anything controversial. They hate the idea of pissing people off.

What you can do is choose something hyper-specific, go after a market, piss some people off, make sure that they don’t want to work with you and say something along the lines of, “We only help videographers who use Nikon DSLRs to get stand speaking gigs.”

You need to have values that separate people out and polarise.

2. Employees and team members don’t know what they do

Another big one, employees and team members don’t know what they do.

The number of times that we’ve done a corporate marketing report, we’ve gone through each member of the team and we’ve said, “Tell us what KCOM does.”

People would go, “We’re a telco company. We’re a hosting company. We’re a broadband company.”

Depending on who you ask, they will each give you a different answer and that’s not a good thing.

That’s bad but it happens a lot. A lot of employees aren’t entirely sure what the company does at large.

You, as a business are better off having every single member of your team know that all you do is help people who shoot vlogs on Nikon cameras, get stand-up speaking gigs and you know that nothing else matters.

3. Jumping on bandwagons with things like memes and trends

Next up, this is a big one, jumping on bandwagons with things like memes and trends.

It screams of older middle-aged men desperately trying to be relevant and trying to say, “Well, we need to attract the youth of today.”

Instead of creating an identity for themselves and attracting people to try jumping on bandwagons and using that bandwagon in a very, very vain attempt to capture some kind of audience.

Whereas we, as smaller businesses we are a part of those subcultures and we’re able to create those kinds of memes and trends because we’re in them. We don’t jump on top of them. We’re a part of them.
listening to too many people

4. Another classic mistake that they make is listening to too many people.

A lot of corporate businesses have a habit of doing market opinions and open crowdsourcing as well as doing things like focus groups.

When you listen to a million people, 500,000 are going to say one thing and 500,000 are going to say another.

The more people you ask, you’re not better informed.

Instead what they should be doing is focusing on their brand values and saying, “This is what we want to be known for and this is what we want to go out for. Are we known for that?”

When you listen to too many people, that’s both internally and externally, there’s no leadership.

5. Ignoring the massive changes in work habits

A lot of businesses ignore the massive changes in work habits.

There’s absolutely no reason to work five days a week from 9am to 5pm for the sake of it.

There’s also no evidence to suggest that a five-day working week is more productive or doing five days and two off.

I know businesses that do four on three or four on three off. There’s a lot of different combinations that we have.

Flexible working hours and flexible working conditions are the future and big businesses can either jump on that, understand it, and get the growing pains out of the way now or die.

6. Lacking a key person of influence

I’ve met a lot of CEOs of big corporate businesses and I have to say, collectively, they’ve all got the personality of a jar of paint.

I actually don’t have a problem with big corporate businesses. I don’t have a problem with their products and services.

I like Samsung. I like Microsoft.

But someone needs to be standing out there as a really good leader and a key person of influence in your business.

Otherwise, you have a collective audience of exactly the same demographic.

So by having a key person of influence, Bill Gates is another great example of that.

Someone who is visionary and thinking, “I want to change this world.”

They want to change the future and to be a key person of influence and kind of put some of their voices on the line rather than having a job for the sake of it.

7. Ignoring content marketing

Most importantly, ignoring content marketing.

There are so many massive corporate brands that could do some incredible core content marketing.

Xero, for example, has a podcast, very good podcasts.

There is so much money spent on microsites, domains, events, and paper-weighted marketing, and I’m like, “You could pay someone, to create two years of podcasts content and begin to reach out to an audience and educate them.”

There’s a massive advantage that small businesses have if they’re not willing to give away information.

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.