I’m a big fan of Seth Godin and The book ” The Father of Advertising David Ogilvy. As Seth said ” A story is always better than a “Sales Pitch ” I’m gonna make my points like a casual story! Anyway, this post is not about me, it’s all about digital marketing strategies, the common deadly mistakes that every brand and leader makes, that I have also observed quite far which is based on my research and experience.  As an eCommerce consultant and practical inbound marketer, having the serviced dozens of firms in different industries, from insurance to banking, from manufacturing and exports to computer and IT products. My ideas and digital marketing strategy implementation have helped my clients give a boost to their business performance.

Horrible Marketing Strategies that Leads to the Dark Side

A classic example is that of a local insurance firm ( i don’t have the privilege to mention their brand name ), and when I analyze their 2013 Marketing Plan, I found their STP strategy as the same as of 2011 with small changes in the numbers and activities (seriously). I can see that clearly, they are not interested in conducting a fresh industry analysis/performance analysis, especially in a scenario where online insurance selling has come to become a norm. Some time spent with their brand manager reveals that the management continues to live in the period when local banner ads and billboards were the only attention-grabbing channels. Those managing the company’s marketing strategies were neither aware of digital marketing nor were they interested in the same. This is the situation with many organizations, and convincing them and delivering results is almost half of my job.

Most of the Sri Lankan brands today have the following tryst with digital strategy:

  • They either have no specific plan for digital marketing or even an Inbound marketing channel.
  • Maybe, They have a separate digital plan that defines the transformational needs and makes a case for investment.
  • Probably, They have an integrated digital marketing plan where digital is a part of their business.

However, Traditional marketing, mobile marketing, and online marketing are the three pillars of modern marketing strategy and if your brand leaving out the digital elements or out of your marketing plan, you are seriously losing a huge chunk of your potential business. I’m not a big guy or any Digital marketing guru either, but my clients say my result speak louder than my words! That’s why i receive endorsements and referrals from new clients.  OK, let’s come back to the topic 🙂 Based on my research, here are some of the main marketing channels that you / your brands have been using. I’m sure, you are not getting the desired response from these efforts because you are not using them in the most efficient way.

1. Where & How to Place Billboards? Worst mistakes to Avoid.

On average companies allocate around 38% of their marketing budget on sponsorship and billboards. However, most marketing planners and managers don’t understand that too wordy billboard adverts don’t grab as much attention as they expect. Their billboards need to be more visual to make an impact because people don’t read the messages but see perceive the message faster. Most people don’t have the time to read through. Besides, large billboards are not sturdy enough to bear the vagaries of the elements – winds, rains, and snow.

Solutions & Tips – If you must include billboards and banner ads in your promotional campaign, use them wisely. They are best placed in locations such as close to restaurants, movie theaters, parks, and traffic signals where people are in a more relaxed state of mind. The traditional convention is to post them close to the highways. If you think that it is the ideal spot, make sure that the message has lesser textual information and more visual message.

2. Is Email Marketing Still Viable?  Could You Be Sending Spam?

Email marketing, one of the most widely used online marketing strategies since the creation of electronic mail, was effective during its early years of application. Typically, companies used to spend around 11% of their marketing budget on email marketing, but with webmail service providers like Gmail, Yahoo! and others becoming stricter with their anti-spamming regulations; this is not a highly penetrative segment unless you are following the terms and conditions.

If you have chosen an email marketing service without some research and questioning, you are most probably wasting your organization’s marketing funds. How? It is easy for email service providers to run campaigns without opt-in and without complying with the email spam act. They can show you fancy bulk figures but there is no assurance that those emails are even ending up in the inbox of your target audience (leave alone they are your “target” audience).

  • Your business / Brand domain will be blacklisted by Anti-spam protection service providers like Spamhaus, MxToolbox, and more
  • Your domain IP may be blacklisted by ISP’s and other Internet Service protection organizations
  • Your email ( Maybe you have given/added your contact person email ) will be added to the spammer’s directories.

All unsolicited emails end up as spam. A few years ago, you could have imagined having some of them being delivered into the recipient’s inbox, but things are far more complicated today.

Solutions & Tips – Ask the email marketing service provider from where and how they built the email list. Make sure that they send out emails only to an opt-in email list. Get the facts and figures of their services for previous clients – email open rates and response rates. There are a number of other technical aspects to address – Do they have just a single mail server or IP to queue all the newsletters? Does their service comply with the spam act? All your email newsletters must have an “Unsubscribe” link as you don’t want negative branding if someone doesn’t want to receive your emails. Ask if the emails could be queued to be delivered at different times for maximum efficiency.

3. Are You Making These Local News Site Banner Advertising Mistakes?

Whether it is digital marketing or conventional marketing, the key to succeed and make the most impact is to do it the right way. Banner advertising on local news sites is a solid decision, but with so much ad space and movement on the pages, are you really getting the desired attention of the readers. Most probably not! Typically, a local news site will have more than a dozen banner ads running in rotation. How many times will the readers be viewing your ad in a given time period? You are most likely to be wasting money if you are not using this strategy in a methodical manner.

Solutions & Tips – Don’t start a banner ad campaign unless you have the right traffic stats of the website. Study their source of traffic, and the demographics of the readers – their age and languages. Then, you can choose a site that matches its readers with your target audience.

4. Should You Distribute Flyers? Hope you are Not Creating any Traffic Jam

Distributing flyers is one of the most cost-effective ways to advertise. However, like other conventional methods, it is not followed properly by most businesses. Almost 50% of your flyers will be wasted as they will end up in dustbins or by the side of the road. Most people neither have the time nor the interest in distributing the flyers. Another 30% are most likely not to read your message. Besides these issues, flyer distribution can have other “side effects” – it can cause disturbance in traffic, cause hindrance to public movement, and even irrigation. There is no opt-in and no way of telling if your message is relevant to a person.

Solutions & Tips – It is easy to fall for the idea of hiring some cheap and non-professional “guys & girls” to distribute your flyers. The thing is that this can prove to be costlier than getting some experienced hands to do the job. One big advantage of this promotional method is that it is easier for your flyer “distributors” to know the age and sex, place, time, and delivery method of the recipient. Besides, there is a very good chance that most of them are locals.

5. Are you doing SMS Marketing the Right Way? or Trashing Your Brand Reputation?

The launch of the mobile revolution followed the widespread application of SMS marketing by companies. But it has its own set of limitations too. When it comes to mobile campaigns you may forget to think about when it is the best time to send your messages. For example, your business model has limited period special offers available only after midnight. Sending SMS’s to your target audience during this time bracket may more be a nuisance than anything helpful. Spamming, delivery failure, and privacy issues are some of the other concerns.

Solutions & Tips – Choose the right SMS marketing service provider that follows strict opt-in/opt-out participation rules. The messages must be sent only with the permission of the recipients and there should be the option to stop receiving the SMS’s any time. Mobile marketing is cheap, fast, and more personalized as long as you are doing it right.

6. Cold Calling & Automated Voice Calls? Are you serious?

The traditional way to reach your target audience, cold calling, and automated voice calls could prove to be a waste of money if not followed properly. But, cold calling is a goldmine if you use it in the right way with proper strategy! The time of the call is one of the major concerns in this form of promotional method. You don’t want your target audience to receive your calls when they are in a serious event, for example, a funeral. If they are busy with their work, asking for their feedback or making an automated promotional voice call could be nothing less than irritating. Thus, there is a good chance that your cold calling and automated voice calling campaigns are doing nothing else but damaging your business’ reputation. Great example Sri Lanka Pizza Hut, Dialog Messages .. Do they have your permission to send their messages and adverts? Hell no!

Solutions & Tips – The solution lies in making calls at the best possible time, and this will largely depend on your target audience. Besides, it is better to leave automated voice calls out of the equation and give a human touch to all calls.

7. Blindly Spending on Social Media without any Action Plan.

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn among others have hundreds of millions of users who are actively engaging with each other and are open to receive messages. Most of the social media advertising campaigns are non-targeted for a specific audience, Ad campaigns are not optimized for better ROI and even they are nothing but a wastage of money. When it comes to social media marketing, if it is not targeted, it is not optimized. That social media advertising is expensive makes things even more complicated.

  • Your product and services are limited to Sri Lanka, but you have targeted worldwide
  • Your product and services are suitable for a certain age group, but you have targeted all aged group
  • You are publishing social media updates, that is not really suitable for your target group/audience ( Time, Interest, Place)
  • many more…

Solutions & Tips – Ask the social media marketing service provider or Social media strategist to run a targeted campaign. If your target market is Sri Lanka and you have other demographics in focus, it is possible to target them on social media sites. Other key areas to improve include creating the right ad copy for the target audience and maintaining the optimal level of interaction – neither too high nor too low.

8. Print Media Advertising Fatal Mistakes Should not be Repeated

Print media Adverts are another ridiculously amazing way to grab relevant user group attention! Newspapers have vast readerships and some of the leading dailies could take your brand to millions of eyeballs. However, Print advertising is quite expensive, which makes it all the more important to do it the right way – all of it comes down to media planning. Without proper planning, your ads could be printed on the wrong pages and in the wrong sizes. If you have not prepped your business for the response to be generated from the ads, you are going to miss big on the investment and the opportunity.

Solutions & Tips – Identify your local audience and their behaviors, you can publish your ad on weekends when people are in a relaxed state of mind and scan through the entire paper. However, if you are printing it on a Saturday, make sure that your business is ready to handle calls on Sunday. If not, it will be better to advertise on a weekday. Don’t expect the readers to respond to your Saturday ad on Monday – most of them will forget about the offer.

List of Alternative Solutions

Marketing, without concern for the medium, needs to be done the right way. All the 8 marketing strategies mentioned above are quite powerful when planned and delivered for optimal impact. The key is to focus on your target market, timing, and using the right medium at the right time.

The Biggest Mistakes We See Companies make when they first hit Twitter is to think about it as a channel to push out information.  – Tim O’Rellly & Sarah Milstein

  • Social Media Marketing – Make sure that your social media campaigns are optimized and your target audience receives something in return. Develop highly engaging content for higher and deeper interaction. For example, if you are selling insurance, give them safety tips, the importance of insurance, and how you can reach them better with your products, instead of just promoting your insurance products.
  • Local Search Marketing – There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people on the web who are searching for your product, company name, address, or phone number. Build your local search presence by creating and posting informative articles about your niche and business. Content marketing can involve writing niche-focused articles and posting on leading article directories to help your company information and web pages rank higher on search engines.
  • Inbound Marketing – At a time when conventional marketing methods are becoming more and more complicated because of stricter filters and relevance barriers, inbound marketing methodologies are the solution. While traditional promotional strategies are important, it is time for mid-level and top-level management and brand managers to change their perception of inbound marketing methods. Improve your knowledge about online targeting marketing as the number of people searching for your business is coming through the web.
  • mCommerce – With more than a billion smartphones shipped globally last year, mobile web browsing is claimed to surpass desktop browsing this year. The number of mobile internet users (on smartphones and tablets) is growing at a staggering rate, thus creating a huge market that is now surfing the web on the go. It is time to create mobile apps that can help you manage your business relationships with your target audience. You can use apps to process a wide range of functions, from facilitating transactions to payment processing, from reports generation to sending push notifications.



It doesn’t matter what you think about the new-age media, it is becoming dominant and you cannot afford to ignore it, at least for your business. It is worth pointing out that a lack of knowledge and understanding and a veil of ignorance at the management level towards digital marketing is one of the major reasons why it is not addressed in most industry analysis and marketing plans. Contrary to widespread belief, the “transition” is easy and doesn’t require any sacrifices. If you are selling insurance products, it is time you allocate budget for search engine optimization (SEO) and have your product pages optimized. Find what your customers and clients NEED emotionally, not just what they want! There are thousands of other lessons to be learned.

Most of your target audience is sitting in front of a screen (a desktop, laptop, tablet PC, or smartphone) and trying to search and get more information about your product offerings. If you are not up there in the search engine results, you are missing a massive amount of potential business, probably much more worth than that huge billboard on the highway or those thousands of flyers could help bring. Put your business on the Internet “highway” and show them your brand and tell them what you can do for them! So, Tell me

  1. Which one is your favorite Digital marketing strategy?
  2. What is your opinion about unsolicited email Ads(spam) and irritating SMS?
  3. Let me know your feedback about my post in the comments below.


  1. Avatar of Vicky Vicky July 5, 2014 at 2:03 am

    You are right about email marketing .Iam an email marketer.I spent lot of money to other people’s lists without any ROI. Now I build my own list and market to them.

    1. Avatar of Sharanyan Sharma Sharanyan Sharma March 8, 2017 at 11:18 pm

      Hi Vicky,
      No offense! I’m not a big fan of email marketing! Of course if you are managed to get your very own double optin list then the monetizing isn’t a big issue at all 🙂

  2. Avatar of Vicky Vicky July 5, 2014 at 2:03 am

    You are right about email marketing .Iam an email marketer.I spent lot of money to other people’s lists without any ROI. Now I build my own list and market to them.

    1. Avatar of Sharanyan Sharma Sharanyan Sharma March 8, 2017 at 11:18 pm

      Hi Vicky,
      No offense! I’m not a big fan of email marketing! Of course if you are managed to get your very own double optin list then the monetizing isn’t a big issue at all 🙂

  3. Avatar of Sharanyan Sharma Sharanyan Sharma March 8, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    Hi Rockey,
    I’m glad you like it 🙂 let me know if you have any questions?

  4. Avatar of Sharanyan Sharma Sharanyan Sharma March 8, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    Hi Rockey,
    I’m glad you like it 🙂 let me know if you have any questions?


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