Avoid Marketing Pitfalls – Try a Winning Strategy Instead

Yes, you are all set with a dynamite new product or service that is sure to bring in the customers. You’ve done the studies and you are certain you are ready and top-notch. When it comes to uniqueness, your competitors can’t touch your creation – there’s nothing else like it on the market. You’ve got a full inventory (or set process), an eager sales force and a logistics network that is second to none.

Now all you have to do is get the word out to all of your potentially eager customers.

Getting the money to market your product is easy. Developing a solid marketing plan that gives you the most for your buck, well, that’s another story. How can you maximize your return on investment?

You might start by avoiding the following marketing mistakes:

PITFALL #10: “I Don’t Need to Market My Product/Service! It Sells Itself.”

There’s no such thing as the product or service that ‘sells itself’. If you don’t market your product or service, your customers won’t know about it. If they don’t know about it, they cannot buy it. The concept is simple, but far too many business owners fail to see that marketing is a necessary component of the business cycle. It’s not an extracurricular activity that takes you away from your business – it IS your business.

PITFALL #9: “Just Do What the Competitors Are Doing!”

In a competitive market, it’s important to separate your company from its competitors. Differentiating – a unique angle from which you can approach the market – and using it to grab the customers who are being overlooked or who have not noticed, is the key. You might specialize in offering low-cost or high quality, or targeting a particular age or economic group. Whatever your niche, whatever your differentiation, be quick to identify it.

PITFALL #8: “We’ll Just Target Everyone!”

It’s impossible to successfully market to everyone. It’s a pretty good bet that most teenagers won’t be interested in purchasing life insurance; and what would the elderly want with acne medication? Every product or service should be aimed at a particular demographic or psychographic. Know as much as possible about who is buying or who has the best potential to buy, and adjust your marketing plan accordingly.

PITFALL #7: “Bells and Whistles Always Work.”

Sometimes keeping it simple is your best option. The role of any marketing plan should be to draw attention to or educate about your product or service. Complicated strategies and complex gimmicks often overcomplicate matters, are expensive and cause your product or service to get lost in the show. When potential customers see your marketing campaign or read some PR on your company you want them to think, “This solves my problem, or is just the solution I’ve been seeking.” Ever seen a TV ad and wondered what they were selling? Point made.

PITFALL #6: “Let’s Blow It All on One Ad! (The Super Bowl Strategy).”

It may be tempting to spend the entire marketing budget on one outrageously expensive advertisement that you feel will jumpstart the buying frenzy. The ad may be a monumental extravaganza of groundbreaking proportions, but remember, it’s only a one-time deal. Extravaganzas are quickly forgotten, it is consistent, ongoing exposure over time that keeps your product or service offering in front of your potential customers. Save your money by using a strategic approach, targeted correctly, and measure results to really make your marketing work for you.

PITFALL #5: “Change is Always Good.”

When it comes to successful marketing, customers remember consistency. If you keep changing the message, or the visual is not consistent, it’s likely that your customers will get confused. Confused customers don’t buy products or services: they just move on to something they understand. So resist the temptation to change your marketing messages, or to use a variety of designers because you are price shopping. Everything the customer sees should be consistent with message, visuals and the differentiating factors. Keep it consistent. Measure what is working and do more of that. Only change strategy when things are not working and you know WHY they are not working. Is it the message? Is it the target? Is it the visual?

PITFALL #4: “You Have to Start From Scratch.”

The quest for originality can drive you to extremes. Creativity is a good thing, but it can be taken too far. It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel to come up with a successful marketing plan – in fact, it’s sometimes detrimental. You do not want to copy the competition, but you can certainly learn from their costly mistakes.

PITFALL #3: “We Should Only Go After New Customers.”

One of the most common mistakes made by companies is to ignore their loyal customers while pursuing new ones. Everyone wants to branch out, but growth should never come at the cost of the people who have already made you what you are. Repeat business is just as valuable as new business, and sometimes more so. One interesting fact is that only 16% of online purchases come from new customers. Servicing or maintaining can be as profitable as the initial selling, and since it is residual income, it may make you more money. Be sure to strategize how to better market to those who’ve helped you out in the past.

PITFALL #2: “It’s Better to Do Nothing Than to Take Risks.”

Marketing, PR and advertising dollars are a valuable commodity, so it’s important to come up with smart ways to spend your money wisely. You can’t spend all of your time at the drawing board, however. There comes a time when you simply have to throw caution to the wind and roll out the campaign. You’re not going to sell anything through a campaign that never deploys, or a Web site that never launches. Be smart, be cautious, but be proactive, too.

PITFALL #1: “It’s a Great Idea – We’ll Just Assume That It Worked.”

Your campaign has finally been deployed and everyone is talking about it. All the trade journals are covering you, and people are telling you how great it is that they see your information and how attractive or catchy it is. If everyone is recognizing it, surely the campaign is successful, right? Not if they’re not buying your products or calling for your services, and if you don’t have a ready system in place to track sales and campaign success, you’re not going to know if the money was wasted or not. It’s important to track it, and track it constantly.