| Nobody ever said marketing was easy. No
matter how successful you
are, you've got to start over with every new customer. No matter how
well you know your stuff, you're still vulnerable to the same
Smart marketers and sales professionals know they have to stay on
their toes to avoid repeating those mistakes. That's why I've compiled
this list of the most common marketing mistakes--mistakes that waste
time, money, and ultimately customers. Review these errors with an eye
toward sidestepping any one of them when you see it coming.
1. Assuming you don't need to market yourself.
No matter how big or successful you become, you'll always need
to make sure your customers--current and potential--know who you are
and what you can do for them. Coca-Cola, for example, is one of the
best-known brand names in the world, but it continues to market itself
aggressively every day.
2. Focusing on your image instead of your identity.
The best way to stand out in the crowded marketplace is to
differentiate your organization from all the rest. It's easier--and
more cost-effective--to do this by concentrating on how you can really
help the customer instead of building an image that's only distantly
related to your product or service. Customers appreciate openness and
sincerity more than gimmicks and contrived images.
3. Undervaluing your product.
Customers won't value what you have to offer if you don't value
it yourself. Be fair when setting prices, but don't give too much away
in the name of competitiveness.
4. Not measuring the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
You have to constantly evaluate whether you're earning enough
on your marketing investment. Set goals and track your progress in
terms of sales per thousand brochures or hundred calls, or whatever
other measure seems appropriate.
5. Providing insufficient information.
Conventional wisdom insists that prospects don't want to read
lengthy marketing copy. While the majority of readers do give up after
the first 50 words, you shouldn't give up until you've told your story
thoroughly. Put the crucial '5W' information in your opening, but give
the customer all the information he or she needs to make a decision.
6. Changing strategies too hastily.
Don't be in a hurry to switch the message or media of your
marketing campaign. You may be getting sick of your own message, but
key marketing messages need to be repeated again and again in order to
make an impact on the customer's consciousness.
7. Relying too heavily on referrals.
Depending on referrals for new business limits your options.
Design a marketing program that lets you target potential customers,
and also gives them the opportunity to contact you directly. Otherwise
you'll be at the mercy of whomever has the ability to refer customers
to your company.
8. Failing to position your company as a leader in the market.
Being seen as a leader in your industry gives you a distinct
advantage over the competition. Identify a niche where your
organization can truthfully label itself the best. If you can't find a
niche, create one. Then let your role as an industry leader be a
powerful factor in your marketing campaigns.
9. Keeping your marketing materials to yourself.
Lots of companies spend big money on brochures and other
marketing materials they keep in the office to hand out to prospects
when they walk in the door. Develop a marketing packet of company data
to send out to people who call your office. Offer a booklet of useful
information in your advertising, and whenever you're interviewed for
TV, radio, or the newspaper.
10. Not maintaining a mailing list.
Establish a mailing list of past customers, prospective
clients, people who have referred business to your company, and other
important business contacts. Be sure to communicate with these people
at least quarterly. A simple one- or two-page newsletter with a few
bits of useful information will keep your name at the top of people's