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The 10 Most Common Marketing Mistakes
By Orvel Ray Wilson   Printer Friendly Version

1. Assuming You Don't Have to Market
Coca-Cola is by far the most widely recognized brand name in the world, and one of the world's largest advertisers, investing tens of millions of dollars annually in marketing. Even if you've got a better mousetrap, the world will not beat a path to your door. Every business must market itself constantly, aggressively, or fail.

2. Assuming You Need Big Money to Market
Jay Conrad Levinson, in his best-selling book Guerrilla Marketing Attack, lists 100 marketing weapons, and 50 of them cost you nothing. Even the smallest one-man business should cultivate good relations with the press. Read Jeffery Lant's book, The Unabashed Self Promoter's Guide to learn how to write press releases and articles that will generate thousands of dollars worth of free publicity.

3. Improper Targeting
Try to say something to somebody or you will be saying nothing to everybody. "Narrowcast" your marketing message to a specific group who want, need, or have to buy your products. Advertise to remind rather than to impress. Repetition is key; mail postcards weekly for a month instead of a single multi-page brochure blitz. Enclose a business card with everything.

4. Confusing Image and Identity
Guerrillas strive to communicate their identity, not their image. Image implies something contrived or counterfeit. Your identity is who you really are. Customers recognize and appreciate the truth. Put your picture on your business card, and your address on your stationary. How else will they know where to send the check?

5. Undervaluing the Product
Hungry retailers routinely sell their work for a fraction of the fair market value. Be competitive, even aggressive, but don't give products or services away. Customers will not place value on your work unless you do.

6. Incomplete Customer Feedback
Follow up every order after several days to make sure the customer is still satisfied. Ask everyone "How are we doing?" and "How could we improve?" Take every suggestion seriously. If you really listen to your customers, and do what they tell you to, you can't fail.

7. No Specific Marketing Goals
Define exactly the outcome you want your marketing to produce; to inform, to educate, to entertain, or to persuade? Every dollar spent on marketing is an investment, so expect a specific rate of return. Be clear about your goals and track your response rates in registrations per hundred calls, or sales per thousand brochures.

8. Insufficient Information
The belief that people don't read long copy is a common marketing myth. Readership falls off dramatically after the first 50 words, but long copy sells to readers interested enough to finish. Put the "5 W's" up front, then use enough ink to tell your whole story, so your customers can make an informed decision.

9. Failure to Develop Vendor Relationships
Don't always go with the lowest quote. Get to know a printer, designer, or agency that understands your needs and will compete for your long-term business. For example, ask them to price the printing of your newsletter on a monthly-for-a-year basis.

10. Switching Too Soon
Easily the most costly, and certainly the most common mistake, is changing the theme, format, or media used in your marketing campaign. This one is so important that it should be listed as number one. Just about the time you're sick to death of your marketing, your prospects are just beginning to recognize who you are. Instead of updating your advertising, spend the money repeating your message, again and again and again and again.

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