10 Common Marketing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

By Nial Adams


Are you making these common marketing mistakes?

Marketing may seem like a minefield. Where do you start, what’s most important? Who do you listen to and do you simply copy others who look like they’re on the right path?

Well, if you seriously want to improve what you’re doing in your marketing then there’s a really simple place to start.

Here are ten of the most common marketing errors that the majority of business owners and manager will make at some point – are you making them too?

1. Gambling with resources (time and money), rather than using proven strategies to make marketing produce a profit.

Before you even think about spending money on marketing campaigns and activities you need to know why you’re going to do it and have some sort of system to evidence what’s working and what isn’t.

That may sound like common sense and obvious but the vast majority of people I’ve trained and worked with for over ten years don’t actually know what works for them and what is simply a quick way of burning cash (more likely!).

Task #1 – Understand the concept of Cost of Acquisition and apply some logic.

Learn how marketing really works, get help to apply it, then build your business on a marketing structure.

2. Becoming obsessed with the look and feel of your brand at the expense of expressing what you are really offering – sell the benefits, not the packaging.

The brand of your business is so much more than just the colour of your logo.

Before you can even hope to get a sense of what brand works for you, and more importantly what works for your customers, you need to know what your customers are actually buying.

Good branding comes from core values and what your actual proposition really says about why customers should want to do business with you.

Task #2 – Remember to see your offering from the (potential) customer’s perspective, not your own.

Ask your existing clients why they were attracted to your offer and why they chose your business over the competition. You may be very surprise at the real reasons for this.

3. Having no marketing plan at all – even a basic plan, which is much easier than you’d think, is better than nothing; come on, this is your business we’re talking about, please take it seriously!

You don’t need to get bogged down in writing a three-year marketing plan, just focus on your immediate objectives for the next 90-days.

Once you understand what your Marketing Assets are and what channels you want to use first you can then start to formulate a practical plan.

Task #3 – Assemble the main constituent parts you need for your marketing plan and begin to get your focus on the parts that are most important.

Don’t try to take on the world in a week; test your ideas with a limited campaign that you can cut your teeth on.

4. Not testing results – the absolutely fundamental rule of marketing; test and measure everything you can. It’s the only way to know if you’re succeeding, or just wasting your time and money.

To do this you need to put some simple processes and systems in place. The first thing to do is record everything that can be measured.

I know, it sounds boring and all a bit too grown up but it really is vital if you want to make progress and succeed in marketing.

marketing mistakes

Today we have so many great systems for measuring marketing results, these are often part of the marketing tools we use, are designed for those with basic knowledge and are accurate.

Gone are the days of needing to spend hours pouring over complex spreadsheets.

Task #4 – Look at the ways you currently market your products and service, then confirm if there’s an easy and accurate way to measure the result and make informed decisions on what to do next.

5. Trying to be too clever – don’t make your audience work for it.

Keep it simple and spell out your offering in a way that’s easy for people to understand.

For too long marketing has been driven by smart-talking media types who would rather sell fluff over substance. A catchy jingle or funky strapline might be a cool way to engage your audience but the big question is does it actually help you sell more?

The only way you can really test this with confidence is to question your target audience and get feedback from them on their understanding.

Golden rule; never assume your audience (and customers) know what you know!

Task #5 – Run a short survey or poll with your customers (or just pick up the phone) and ask them what they actually know (or think they know) about your business.

This will also help you confirm what’s really important to them, not you.

6. Sloppy brand identity – there’s no excuse these days, everyone in business should have some pride about the way they present their business. Look the business and you’ll start to gain the respect you’re seeking and build trust.

Just as it’s important not to focus purely on brand to the exclusion of everything else, it’s equally important to make sure your marketing presentation is professional and appropriate.

Again, just because you like your brand or corporate identity may not mean that you’ve got it right.

You may have a brand style that suited your needs and budget when you first started up but it could be time now to make sure that your more mature business is presented properly.

Task #6 – Again, ask the opinion of others not connected to your business. Get an independent perspective.

Give people the chance to be honest with you, park your ego and listen to what they tell you.

7. Ignoring the power of new strategies and tactics like Social Media – it’s an amazing marketing tool when you understand how to use it.

Remember the dot-com gold rush a few years back? Well, it’s here again; harness Social Media now and you’ll see rewards for years to come.

You might feel a bit overwhelmed with Social Media Marketing. Where do you start; facebook, LinkedIn, twitter or Google+?

The trick is to focus on one platform first and understand how Social Media actually works, then take your new knowledge on to the next one.

Task #7 – Have a look at how your competitors are using Social Media. Aim to identify the things that seem to be working for them.

The most important element of this is engagement from your community.

Remember, Social Media Marketing isn’t all about shouting from the rooftops, it’s about having a conversation with your audience, it’s about listening, it’s all about being sociable!

8. Confusing price and value – these are definitely NOT the same thing!

Price is nothing more than a concept, even an idea; value is what people are really looking for. Stop trying to price your services and create a value proposition instead.

Another Golden Rule in marketing; don’t express the price until you’ve established the value. How can a prospective customer judge the price of something until they know what value it has to them personally?

Most of all, do not market and sell on price alone. Cutting your prices just to win customers is a fast-track to terminal failure, a race to the bottom.

One race you don’t want to beat your competitors on!

Task #8 – Stop and look at the way you actually express your price and value.

Again, ask for help with this and confirm if you’re really expressing the value in your offer before you disclose the price.

9. Ignoring the value in referrals; about 80% of the businesses I meet tell me that about 80% of their business comes from referrals.

And about 80% of business owners have no strategy at all for getting more referrals… spot the pattern?!

Marketing is not about how many widgets you can sell; it is about how many new customers you can win and what sort of relationship you can build with them.

Remember, (and this may come as a shock) your products or services actually have no intrinsic value. The real value comes in the form of the customers who want to transact with you.

Most of all, what they’re willing to trade with you. Until then the value is only ever notional.

Task #9 – If you don’t currently have a way of generating referrals and recommendations from your existing customers stop and decide how you can achieve this.

With a solid referral plan, that genuinely incentivises and rewards your customers for introducing more people to you, you’ll see a massive leap in your results.

10. Over-estimating the short term and underestimating the long-term – smart business owners recognise that good marketing strategy is a longer-term project. And the tactics that make this work are the short-term actions you take on a daily basis.

Do the right things today and build on them month after month. Don’t scramble about looking for a short-term fix month after month and expect to create effective results.

Success in business, like most things, can be described as the constant achievement and progression towards worth-while goals.

It’s not an end result at some point in the never-ending future.

Flying Start Marketing ChallengeTask #10 – Work on your marketing in short, clearly defined periods of time – 90-days at a time is good.

At the same time build up a plan or a picture of how this is going to get you where you want to be over the coming years.

So if you want to stop gambling, scrambling, and lurching from one marketing ‘campaign’ to another, start at the beginning, get some help if you need it.

Grow your business knowledge and learn how to apply solid marketing principles in real time.

The only thing left is your courage!


PS. If you want to learn how to get started with marketing download Module 1 of Make Marketing Work, – the new way to learn marketing online.

PPS. And if you want some feedback on your current approach to marketing, feel free to ping me an email with your ideas and I’ll happily drop you a line back with some feedback to help you.

Nial Adams Author of Make Marketing Work

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  • […] Remember; marketing is not about gambling with your profits or investment, it’s about building valuable connections. Failing to understand this is one of the most common marketing mistakes. […]

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