5 Fatal Marketing Errors

You spend a lot of time and money on marketing your business. So where are all the customers you expected? Find out if you’re making one of these five deadly marketing errors.

AAARGH! Gasp! Wheeze!

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of your marketing campaign dying. How could that be, you wonder. You put a lot of work into it, dropped a lot of cash. And still you’re not getting the results you expected.

Before you pronounce the patient dead, consider that you may be making one or more of these common fatal errors.

1. The Egg Basket Error

“I’ve tried advertising,” a small business owner told me. “It isn’t working, so I think I’m going to try public relations instead.”

Whoa! What makes you think they’re mutually exclusive? The most effective marketing programs comprise several disciplines. Ads, press releases, media events, article placements – all work together in synthesis, sometimes toward different goals. One may be better for building awareness, another for gaining credibility, still another for generating leads.


Putting all of your eggs in one marketing basket narrows your playing field – and minimizes your effectiveness.

2. The Spike Slip

Marketing is a continual endeavor, one that needs to be exercised in the boom seasons as well as the dry. If you stop marketing when business is good, where will customers come from when it starts to taper off?

In a similar vein, don’t depend on residual results from one public relations event or one ad or one media placement. People who read an article about you in the paper will patronize your business – at least for a week or two. Then the slump will hit.

You need a supporting marketing program so that customer activity doesn’t die out as soon as the spike is over.

3. The First Date Fallacy

You meet someone, decide to go on a first date, and everything goes just fine. At the end of the evening, your date assures you it was wonderful, and wants to see you again – soon.

You wait eagerly by the phone; it doesn’t ring. A day goes by. Two days. Five. Naturally you assume that, despite what your instincts (and your date) told you the first time out, there’s no interest. Meanwhile, your date has assumed the same of you, figuring that if you were interested, you would have called.

What’s missing in this fledgling relationship is the same thing absent from a lot of marketing materials – clear direction of what the next step is. It’s great to have ads, publicity pieces and direct marketing campaigns that are on target when it comes to attracting the interest of potential customers. But too many leave those same potential customers high and dry.

You don’t snag a game fish and neglect to reel it in because it’s hooked! Customers are looking for direction. Give it to them.

Make your offer compelling … then make it easy for your customer to take the next step in the buying process.

4. The Membership Misconception

I once attended a large church obsessed with its own size. They would offer special concerts and events for the sole purpose of increasing membership. Once you became a member, they didn’t seem to give a hang about you. Of course, once folks realized that, they moved on, so the church never got as big as it could have been, because its congregation was always in flux.

It’s easy for that same “membership drive” attitude to seep into your marketing and defile it. It’s not enough to generate interest – you’ve got to convert leads into sales. And it’s not enough to make sales – you’ve got to turn purchasers into loyal customers.

Authors and marketing experts Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba advocate the development of “customer evangelists” – people who are so pleased with your product or service, they go out and tell the world. “This group of satisfied believers can be converted into a potent marketing force to grow your universe of customers,” they claim. To which I reply “Amen.”

5. The Me First Mistake

This is the most common error I see – as well as the most deadly. It occurs when a business puts its own merits at the forefront of its advertising and public relations messages, instead of concentrating on the needs of the potential consumer.

A real estate agent recently confessed to me that he hates the way his peers promote themselves – by the amount of properties they’ve sold or awards they’ve won – rather than focusing on what the consumer wants. Show me a marketing campaign that touts the size of the company, the magnificence of the product (as opposed to it benefits the consumer), prizes won, what the corporate office building looks like … or oozes copy so slick with self-aggrandizing tripe you want to hold it with a doily … and I’ll show you a business that’s ignoring the very people it’s trying to attract.

Consumers want two things from you:

  • Recognize (or make them aware of) a problem or need that they have
  • Offer them the means to solve or satisfy it.

Provide compelling evidence that your business is the obvious and only logical choice to solve that problem, and your results should go through the roof.

Make sure none of these errors have infected your marketing campaign. If so, amputate immediately. The prognosis will be a healthier cash register.

Bob Massey is the Florida Gulf Coast Branch Manager for KSR, a Miami-based full-service marketing agency and has been an award-winning business writer and editor. You can contact him at (941) 255-1055, or e-mail bob@ksrteam.com

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