When marketing in business, we often focus on what we should do, but sometimes, what we shouldn’t do is equally as important. So I have reached out to the fabulous CarolRoth.com contributor network of entrepreneurs, advisors and experts to find out the biggest marketing mistakes that they have experienced in business. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some of the same mistakes listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Screaming Your Sales Pitch
The one biggest marketing mistake that I have seen far too often is spamming every outlet with your sales pitch. In the technology age, we are equipped with the means to ignore that sales pitch because we're not interested! Provide valuable, searchable content and you will get found on the internet.
2. How are You Showing Up?
The other day, we passed a window screen business. My eyes quickly diverted from the sign to their front door- a rusted door with the screen ripped and hanging off the door and the window was not much better. How you show up is everything. This business did not take time to fix their own screens, so as a customer, how could I trust that I would be cared for?
3. How Do I Contact You?
As a marketing consultant, I constantly see marketing mistakes being made. The most common one I see, and one of the worst offenders, is websites that do not have contact info on every page and instead, make visitors hunt through the website to find contact information--especially a phone number. If you are in business, you need to make it easy for prospects and customers to contact you. Include your phone number and a link to your email contact form on every single page of your website.
4. Benefits Vs Description
Your product or service does not matter. What matters is how the product or service meets the needs of your customer/client. To market successfully, you must show how you solve a problem, reduce a cost, increase revenue, alleviate pain or address some other need. Don't make the common mistake of describing your product/service, instead of demonstrating the benefits.
5. Slamming My Email Inbox
The biggest and most annoying mistake I see is when a company/marketer starts sending WAY too many sales emails with irrelevant offers right off the bat when I just want to see what they are all about. This is a huge turn-off and I cannot hit the unsubscribe button fast enough. Give me something that is relevant to me and make the information available should I choose to look further - but do not spam me with sales messages!
6. Where to Put the Coupon Code?
I just saw this marketing mistake. You see their deal and they give you a coupon code. You go to order the product. The web says place coupon code before ordering, but there's no place to enter it. Finally, after phone calls, you are told to enter AFTER you have given the Visa information for the full price! They want YOU to enter the full price and your Visa information, and then THEY will deduct the coupon! There's no way I would do this. I canceled the order.
7. I am Everywhere and No Where!
In social marketing, everyone wants to do everything. They jump into every network and then don't have time for any of them. You need to know where you will get the most bang for your buck. Where is your audience? Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Go there and focus on that one network. Once you get use to the flow and time commitment, look into expanding into other networks. It is better to do one well than all of them badly.
8. We are in a Mobile World!
I was watching a TV Commercial last night and they were expelling the virtues of the new, extra large displays on smart phones. For those of us getting a little older, this is a wonderful thing, but marketers still don't get it. It is a mobile device, it has a maximum size screen of under 5" and most are way smaller than that. When you are developing your strategies for marketing and realize that mobile is part of it, develop a mobile friendly site and keep a potential customer engaged!
9. Auto Translators Don't Work
If you're not an English-language marketer of products, you shouldn't use auto translators because they never work right. What comes out is nothing like it should be.
10. Crazy Like a Cat
During the Super Bowl a few years ago, there was this hilarious commercial that depicted rough-and-rugged cowboys herding cats. You probably remember it...
...but who was the company it marketed?
I don't have a clue, either.
That was a multi-million dollar marketing mistake, but a funny commercial.
I wonder if anyone laughed on their way to the bank...
11. Trade Shows Done Wrong
We attend trade shows on both sides of the counter and are always amazed at the wasted marketing money. Signage that doesn't tell who you are and what you do will not get the attendees' attention. Salesmen who are too aggressive OR too passive/disinterested drive people away. And, worst of all, not following up with a live prospect will spell doom for this and any future business. Do not waste your time and money going to a trade show, and that of your prospective customers, unless you intend to do it right.
12. Big Mistake
I think the biggest marketing mistake is listening to too many people. You should ask your best customers why they "love" you and keep coming back. What do you do well and what not? Then, take their answers, analyze them, and put your best spin on it. They're the ones spending their hard earned money with you.
13. Executive Amnesia
What is Executive Amnesia? It's when you lose touch with what it really takes to get the work done.
Where do I see it? Everywhere.
People forget the ripple effect of decisions like how a "minor" change in the product name or description can ripple through myriad items and materials.
What can you do? Step back to remember your experiences on the way up. Be thoughtful when making changes. Constantly ask if changes are really valuable or are they just a personal preference.
14. I'll Do This Later
The biggest mistake I see is in start-ups and SMEs. The new companies are overwhelmed with issues associated with starting out and leave their marketing and branding for later. The results are disastrous - your brand is your first impression; this should be a priority. Brand is an essential part of your marketing strategy and the fact is - there is no later! Starting off with establishing your brand values and ensuring that they are reflected in your marketing is a must.
15. Breathing Your Own Fog
It's the assumption that your assumptions are consistent with the mindset of your customers. I've seen this more often than I want to remember. So, don't fall in love with any idea created in a vacuum and never assume that what you think is diabolically clever will be relevant to buyers.
16. Missing The Value!
I've seen a lot of business owners, especially over the last few years, shrug off the importance and value of using social technologies to engineer trust points with people in their target markets. There is extreme value in building trust with those people and the results are in the dollars (the pure ROI), and the firestorm of word of mouth that's created from this kind of interaction.
17. Don't Dim the Light Too Soon
In my 30+ years in marketing, one thing has proved consistently true: Companies tire of their own marketing and advertising far sooner than their audience does. Whether they are flipping a switch and changing their message before they need to, or they are completely pulling the plug after one ad didn't pay for itself, it's a huge mistake.
Target carefully, message thoughtfully, and plan wisely for "frequency". A little ad repeated 20 times is far more effective than a big ad run only once.
18. Cacophonous Commercials!
The assault on my ears by harsh, discordant, jarring TV ads always sends me fumbling for the mute button. The worst one I saw recently was an ultra-irritating car full of silly people "singing". All I know is that it was a car commercial, but I couldn't even tell you what kind of car.
Therein lies the marketing failure.
19. People Know Your Name
Misspelled business names continue to pop up in signage, websites, social media and other marketing materials. Proof read, proof read and proof read. Have other people proof read. You want people to know you by the correct name. A misspelled name suggests that you don't know who you are or even worse, do not care.
20. Every Person, Every Time
Lack of follow through is the number one marketing mistake people make. You create all of the marketing hype and then leave the next step for the customer to take. Failure to follow through is killing your business. Without follow through, all marketing efforts are wasted.
For every customer interaction, there needs to be a system in place for following up with that person- every person, every time. Create an automatic "next step", so that every customer is being moved through your sales process.
21. Price- Not!
Price is not a marketing strategy. If you try to sell on price, you are doing a commodity sale. Sell based on value and loyalty!
22. Others Got a Better Deal
Clients at the front of the line got a better deal than you. You’ll pay more, Ha, Ha.
An association used this approach to market its convention. Each message repeated the better deal that the early buyers got: for every 50 seats sold, the price will go up $25.
The $25 was not a big deal, nor did it motivate me. But the consistent reminder that others got a better deal was annoying. Annoy your prospects by reminding them about how dumb they are.
Apparently, attendance was down 25%.
23. Pick Correct Personality Words
Often, we tend to use words and phrases in our marketing that appeal to our personality type, instead of considering which type is most likely to buy what we are offering. It is important to use words that appeal to the "action buttons" of the majority of buyers for your product. IE: the same personality would not buy a sports car that would buy a Volvo. You must use words that emphasize status and prestige for the sports car and safety and security for the Volvo!
24. Where Do I Start?
• Deciding to decrease market/advertise when profits decrease from hard times
• Clinging to old paradigm push marketing
• Being an internet troglodyte
• Ignoring the impact of social media, mobile & apps
I think that should do for a start!
25. It Isn't All About Me
Lately, I have come across many businesses who are turning me off by telling me how much money they make and how little time they spend making it. They're writing from their beach house and they only worked 10 hours this week. And by the way, please pay $1,000 for my program.
When I hear or read that, I think REALLY?! I want to know that your product is valuable, that it is going to serve a need that I have, and if I am going to pay $1,000 for it, it ought to be a significant need.
26. You Don't...
The biggest marketing mistake I see on a consistent basis is that most business owners simply don't...market, that is. They think about it, they plan on it, they mean to, but they simply don't do it. And then, when they do some marketing, they don't do enough of it to make an impression or a difference and they will claim it doesn't work. Never under estimate the task of marketing - or it's effect. Here's a great rule of thumb...whatever you do to market, just do one more thing!
27. Do Nothing - Get the Same!
The single biggest marketing mistake a company makes is when they do nothing! They hang out a shingle and expect clients to flock to them. I see this with all kinds of businesses and owners wonder why they have no new clients. Sure, times are tough, but letting potential customers and current clients know you're ready to work is what marketing is all about. The bottom line is that you need to do something. Do a video. Do a website. Do something! My simple business marketing equation: Nothing = nothing.
28. It’s All About Them, Not You
When entrepreneurs write their own website, video, or advertising copy, the first mistake they make is to write about how great they are. Consumers are cynical creatures that discount all of the hype and hyperbole. The fact is that customers do not care about you. All they really care about is what you can do for them. Effective marketing copy or Web Video scripts must talk about how your company can improve your client’s life or business, and not how wonderful you think you are.
29. Selling Trumps Marketing
The biggest mistake most small businesses make is strictly relying on social networking and e-mail to generate business. While social networking is important, if that is all that you do, you will never optimize your sales. Marketing requires the prospect to contact you. Selling means that you are proactively contacting the prospect either on the phone or face to face. Direct dialog is significantly more powerful than impersonal contact. Do both!
30. Spelling Counts!
Every communication represents your brand. Communications littered with poor grammar and spelling reflect on all of your abilities. However, it's even worse when you misspell a person's name. My name has been misspelled in emails (and my last name used as my first) when it's written out in my email address and email signature. I've received snail mail addressed to Stacy "Robinson" and "Robbins" and have been introduced at events as Stacy "Degania" (company name). Is that the attention given to clients?
31. Align Advertising w/ Audience
The biggest mistake I'm aware of was made by the author of a book about saving the earth. The mistake: the book was not printed on recycled paper! It's imperative for marketers to keep their audience in mind and to make the message match the interest/concern of the audience.
32. Kiss: Keep it Simple Stupid!
Years ago, I had a chance to make a run at a large prospect. My firm was small. We were in competition with large firms. We felt that to compete with the big boys, we had to make our presentation slicker. To impress, we put in time and expense. I was uneasy, but we had to show we were capable.
After all was done, I called the prospect. He decided to go with a large firm. Stunned, I asked why? He explained, "Their presentation was simple. Frankly, your presentation was just too slick.”
33. Make it About CONTRIBUTION!!!!
Make it about contribution when devising and implementing a marketing plan. Don't worry about SELLING or gaining market share. Focus on what's unique about your product and service and how you can CONTRIBUTE to people THROUGH your product. Ask the following questions:
1) What are 5 things that I LOVE about the product or service that I am about to market?
2) What are 5 ways in which I can enrich someone's life with my product/service?
Also, focus on building relationships vs. just sales.
34. Know How You Got There!
Biggest marketing blunders...there's New Coke (ended up being a positive), Netflix, and so many others. But can anything touch the firing of Steve Jobs? He was the visionary who created Apple! He only goes on to create Pixar's great success! Well, at least they brought him back to take Apple to the next level. Bottom line, companies need to look at the brilliant visionaries who created their success and not dismiss that, because it's the core of why the Brand became successful in the first place!
35. The Car Named No Go
The Chevy Nova was marketed under that name in Mexico. No va in Spanish means "No Go". Clearly, this was not a brilliant branding move by Chevy. Who wants to buy a car that is advertised not to go? It's important that you test your messaging with your target audience. It's unlikely that you will make this level of mistake, but you might find using your target market's language to brand your product can be one of your best moves.
36. Cheap & Unprofessional
Ugh. Why would someone who wants to make an impression print up their own business cards? I've seen this at networking events when someone passes a business card and it's obvious it was homemade with rough edges, crooked, blurred printing or worse yet, the name of the company who might have printed them for free on it. First impressions are so important and a professionally printed card shows a standard of excellence. Don't scrimp on this one!
37. The Biggest Marketing Mistake
When I consult business owners about their marketing, the biggest mistake I find that they make is in not tracking the Return On Investment (ROI) for each marketing campaign.
What ends up happening is that when business slows down, they cut their entire marketing budget as a way to "right the ship". This causes business to slow even further.
Without tracking and knowing the exact ROI on each marketing campaign, they are making what I believe is the first, and often the biggest, marketing mistake.
38. No Room for Autopilot
Doing it “because we always have” is perhaps the biggest – and most common – marketing mistake. One striking example of this is a company we did a communications audit for and found they had spent $300,000 over three years advertising a product that had been sold three years earlier. The ad manager lost her job and the company president nearly did. Extreme? Maybe. However, are you 100% certain that every marketing dollar is being invested wisely? Now is a good time to double check.
39. Don't Play Stupid at Any Level
I was in sales for Gazelle Systems in Utah. As we readied a new software release, I had 100 user groups wanting to review and write about it. My CEO and sales boss told me that "the idea is stupid. If all 100 groups gave a poor review, we'd lose our reputation." My opinion was that "End users and resellers might kill our reputation as well." Never release a product unless there is a HIGH degree of proof that a product WILL work to stated expectations. Thus, a marketing lesson was learned in this scenario!
40. How Not to Get the Sale!
I received an email from a SEO firm that simply said "we are the best damn SEO firm and you should hire us!" There was no reply to or contact info.
They did not define SEO, why it was important and who needed it. Without supporting evidence, this statement is nothing more than boasting and lacks credibility. Who said you were the best?
If you cannot speak to your customers in terms they understand, at best, your offer ends up in the waste basket; at worst, destroying your reputation.
41. It's About Their Experience!
In their haste to share their story and use the coolest marketing tools, many small business owners forget it's really about the experience they provide. How will a customer feel when he engages with your brand? Make this the centerpiece of all of your marketing. Infuse your marketing messages with a taste of that experience.
42. Nobody Cares About You
The biggest marketing mistake businesses make is assuming that anyone cares about them. Most businesses think people care about what they do or what they sell, when in reality, nobody does. People have busy, active lives and don't understand or care about your business. The first job of marketing is to get people's attention and show them why they should care. Stop talking about things that matter to you - the business owner - and start talking about things that matter to your customer.
43. Suzuki's Big Mistake
The biggest marketing mistake I've seen recently is Suzuki's Kizashi car. Suzuki advertised in all of the right media, got rave reviews from leading auto magazines (including their long term tests), and had an instant reputation for reliability. The problem? No product was available. Dealers were either inappropriately located or had closed down. In the SF bay area where I live, the closest dealer isn't even in the bay area! This is a classic example of a marketing mistake - a great product that no one can buy.
44. Company Names shouldn't Suck
Confusing or misleading company names are the biggest (and most costly) mistake in marketing. A prime example? A retail chain named The Exercise Experience. Potential customers thought they were a health club. In fact, a college student once walked into a store with a gym bag in hand, ready to enroll for a monthly membership! On the contrary, they sold expensive fitness equipment to high income individuals. Clarifying their message cost them time, money, and eventually, their business.
45. Reality Networking
The biggest mistake businesses make is not putting time into marketing, growing your business and relationships. One reason is that they still believe they have a job. I had a woman come up to me after a presentation I gave and asked me to connect her with a national speaker that is a friend. She said "I know she will want to buy my services." The last thing I want to do is send someone I don't know to a connection that took a while to develop so that she could attack her for a sale.
46. Less is More!
The biggest marketing mistake you can make is giving away to much information in your advertising material. I've seen this happen often on websites for a variety of different businesses. Sometimes, less is more. The less information you give them, the better. Information overload can be confusing and frustrating for some people. If they are interested in your products or services, they will contact you to get more information.
47. Using a Marketing Blender
We've seen companies copy their favorite marketing campaigns from other companies... and end up with a whole bunch of different marketing angles, resulting in a very messy message. Stick with one message and carry it through your entire company.
48. Press Release or Organic SEO
We tried several different press release distributions offered by a few of the paid online services available today and the results... "What Results"? Press Releases can be a little pricey, but in my opinion, you're better off sending your release directly to media yourself than using a service. To be quite honest, good SEO gets us way more traffic via organic search results than expensive press release services ever did.
49. Listening is Key
One of the biggest marketing mistakes in businesses is not responding to a customer from their social media sites. Businesses are becoming increasingly savvy in marketing their product or service on the web. However, I find some businesses do a poor job in providing a response in a timely manner or not responding at all. Listening to the customer's feedback and following through tells the consumer that their voice is heard.
Thanks to: Faithe Rogers.
50. Hey Boy...
Hey Boy is a common phrase used in South Africa, but the same marketing is not appealing to all of the groups across the nation.
51. Make a Lasting 1st Impression
The biggest marketing mistake I see is people who don’t take spelling and grammar seriously. For example, if you’re going to take the time to put your marketing message in an email blast, brochure, advertisement, or PowerPoint presentation – make sure it’s proofed carefully! A glaring spelling error or punctuation placed outside of your quotation marks may be all it takes to turn off a potential client who sees you as less than careful and therefore unprofessional.
The number one marketing mistake that I see business owners and entrepreneurs do on social pages is to have their pages be private. How can your target market find you if your social pages are private? All business pages should be open and it is under your discretion to accept or decline a friend request.
53. Stop Pushing!
In the midst of seemingly endless presentations on the revolution of social media, something truly human is happening--Many marketers who jumped on the conversation bandwagon are returning to old habits of skipping the conversation part and just pushing out their messaging in a one-way thrust. The rich dialogue that social media creates takes more time, but comes with the opportunity to capitalize on consumer needs. Remember, push-pull works best--and nobody likes a message bully.
54. Come Buy My Stuff...Ouch!
Everyone everywhere is connected most of the time! So, if someone does not know you or your business, please do not try and sell! The sales process happens naturally and the online conversation should progress to an offline conversation. With marketing, the best defense is a good offense.
55. Yellow Pages? Hmmm...
A big mistake people make is assuming that they should buy a yellow pages ad in the phone book. Think about it--When was the last time you looked in the phone book for anything? Nowadays, we go to the internet first. Make sure you do listings online on Google Places, Yahoo, Yelp, Bing, Yellow pages (yp.com), Hot Frog, and other local listing sites. Or use a service such as Universal Business Listing (ubl.org) to do it for you for a fee. This online real estate for your business is yours, so claim it!
Do you know a business-related marketing mistake that wasn’t included? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!