10 common marketing mistakes to avoid

Avoiding marketing mistakes isn’t easy in today’s business marketplace; which is at times a terrifying jungle where your competitors are hungry predators and your customers are the food source that’s a challenge to catch. To survive you can’t afford to make many marketing mistakes. So here are some common marketing mistakes you should look out for.

1. Poor positioning
Firstly your food source or your customer—how well do you really know them? Most businesses today believe that their target market is anyone and everyone, which is fine if you have the marketing budget of Coca-Cola. Most soft drink companies define their core demographic (a little jargon meaning your ‘most probable customers’) as 14-to-18 year olds, which is why their advertising campaigns target teenagers with a theme of fun and first love. So mistake number one is not defining your core customer. Research your customers and see who is more likely to buy from you, then define them by sex, age and even status, eg. working mother, business owner etc.

2. A bland brand
Your brand is the backbone of your business and your logo is the pivot point that all your marketing will hang from. Mistake number two is having a poor, unmemorable brand.
You’ve heard the saying ‘a picture says a thousand words’ so what is your logo saying to your customers about your business? A logo should be colourful yet simple so it is easily recognised and able to be replicated across different mediums. It should say what you do and it should create the right first impression for your business. For example, if your business is a young, funky hair salon then the logo should be bright, modern and incorporate creative shapes with sharp angles instead of subtle pastel colours with an illustration of a head or pair of scissors.

3. A website instead of an online business
The latest statistics show a total of 1,407,724,920 people across the globe using the internet with just over 19 million (or 57 percent of the population) of those in Australia/Oceania (www.internetworldstats.com). Now realistically not all of these people are going to be searching for your business or looking at your website, but it does demonstrate the depth and potential of the internet. Mistake number three is not having an effective online presence to promote your business and attract customers. Instead of a website that is little more than an online brochure, you should build an online business portal – just like opening another shop or office but with the street address replaced by a website address (URL). Companies like DesignShop can help you create a self-managed online business with all the functionality you need, like e-newsletters, product information, e-catalogue or e-commerce, forums and so on.

4. Ineffective direct mail promotion
Mistake number four is ineffective direct mail promotions. Generally you can expect a success rate for a direct mail promotion of between one and three percent, however this can often fall to zero if you don’t follow a few simple rules. Direct mail needs to be creative first and foremost so that it stands out from the clutter and demands to be noticed. Your direct mail flyer or brochure should be colourful and easy to read, not over worded and provide a clear benefit to the reader. Finally, direct mail often becomes junk mail because it is printed on low quality stock or in dull colours like black and red. Invest in quality full colour printing and heavier, glossy stock for the best results.

5.  Unmemorable customer experience
Customer experience with many Australian small businesses can quite often become memorable – but for all the wrong reasons.  Mistake number six is not having a positive, memorable customer experience.  Ever walked into a large department store and tried to find a staff member to assist you?  In a time poor marketplace where we are all busier than ever before customers are demanding a buying experience that’s quick and easy.  Direct potential customers to your website so they pre-qualify their buying decisions with product information or Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) and at store level be sure to display pricing and product information clearly.

6.  Outdated signage
Old fashioned signs, ‘sale’ posters that have turned from red to orange or no signage at all form mistake number six. Firstly, the outside of your shop or building creates the first impression for any potential customer or passing traffic. Take a moment and step into the shoes of a customer, stand out the front of your business and look at the first impression you get. Is your logo clearly visible and professionally signwritten? Do you notice easily what the business does? Do you have window displays that create a desire to come into the building? Now come inside and take a look around: can you easily find what you are looking for? Is there easily displayed product information and a price ticket? Are there posters hanging in the shop to inform you of important information like ‘Lay-bys Welcome’ or ‘Pay Here’?

7.  Wasted advertising dollars
Mistake number seven is about wasted advertising dollars. Some say that only ever 50 percent of your advertising will ever work; the problem is knowing which 50 percent that is. Most businesses advertise regularly but fail to measure the results. Whatever advertising you do, whether it be Yellow Pages, the local paper, direct mail, radio or even television, you need to have a system for measuring their effectiveness. A simple questionnaire before you give the customer a receipt, that asks them where they heard about your business, can help. An in-store competition with an entry form to complete or a different coupon in each publication that requires the customer to complete and bring in to receive a discount, also work well.

8.  Lifeless brochures or catalogues
Brochures and catalogues with pictures of an empty showroom or products without people enjoying them are a common occurrence and bring us to mistake number eight.
In one of the greatest advertising books, Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples, it states: “… it is wise to remember that the high attention value of a picture does not necessarily mean high sales value. In order to have sales value, the picture should be related to the product.” It is also worth noting the added value of using a professional photographer and models for your photography rather than your home digital camera and a few close family friends.

9.  No referral program or incentive
You invest in the marketing, you attract the customer and then the customer purchases from you: this should not be the end of the relationship. So to mistake number nine – having no referral or incentive program for customers. Customer loyalty programs, frequent shopper cards and refer-a-friend incentives should all be introduced when the customer is at their happiest – just after they have made a purchase. Invite your customers to exclusive preview nights the day before a sale starts or a new product or service is introduced and treat them like a VIP. Remember it costs at least five times more to find a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

10.  Where’s your ‘feel good’ publicity?
Finally mistake number ten: the absence of ‘feel good’ publicity or promotion. As a business you are also an important part of your community and as such you should play a leading role. Sponsor a local sports team, write a regular article in the local paper, provide prizes for local fundraising events, donate to charities and care for the environment.

—Tony Eades is creative director of Design Shop (www.designshop.com.au).

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  • Thank you for the tips,
    I have been working with the marketing part of my business over the past few months. Its been 19 years since I did this and the world has changed. Your tips have brought me up to speed and confirmed my thinking.

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  • Very informative article. Do you do any on successful marketing ploys?