Ten Marketing Mistakes Businesses Make.

As seen in February 9, 2007 Philadelphia Business Journal

Unfortunately quality products and services fail due to poor marketing decisions. The following provides a list of ten marketing mistakes many businesses make. Hope you don’t find too many of them familiar to you and your company. The challenge for any business is to create great products and services and then market them smartly. These are the ten pitfalls to avoid:

1. Assuming the past is a predictor of the future.

“Business as usual” is an axiom of yesteryear.  The pace of change in business,    technology and life has forced smart marketers to question all historical paradigms. If your three year marketing plan is an extrapolation of the past three years, you’re in big trouble. Smart marketers plan for a changing future and embrace change, rather than stubbornly avoiding it.

2. Underestimating your competitors

Corporate hubris sometimes leads arrogant marketers to pooh-pooh their competitors, assuming they lack wisdom or resources to effectively compete. Ultimately, the arrogant are almost always humbled. You can never go wrong respecting your competitors, anticipating their reactions and competing hard.

3. Taking your customers for granted—always remember the customer is in charge.

Never is this truer than today. In another era, a marketer could unilaterally decide what products, services, to offer, where and at what price. The pendulum has swung and the consumer is in control. The power of information combined with more alternatives has put total control in the hands of your customers. Give them what they want, when and where they want it and at a competitive price, and you’ll compete well. Never assume continued loyalty. Loyalty lasts as long as customers’ last purchases.

4. Not understanding your customers’ motivations

Understanding your customers’ motivations, and how they change over time, is critical to maintaining a thriving business. Their motivations change. Be sure you are current in your understanding. Develop smart quantitative tracking measures to deeply understand their usage, perceptions and motivations and measure these consistently over time.

5. Assuming your prospective customers know you

“We’ve been in business, 50 years”, I’ve see this many times. Who cares about your grandfather did in the 1950s?  (o.k., you do but no one else does). While it is important to respect and recognize history, longevity alone does not translate to current day awareness. Don’t be fooled into thinking it does. Your mere existence is not enough to build awareness.

6. Not providing incentives for loyal customers.

“They like us, we don’t need to provide incentives to get them to come back. We’ll undercut the integrity of our brand”. Au contraire. You never go wrong by creating smart promotions providing a reason for even your most loyal customer to act today. Again remember that consumer “loyalty” is weaker than it’s ever been.

7. Believing your own anecdotal stories as truth

This is a universal disease where companies build up their own lore about “how it is” and use a story to dramatize their own perspective of what’s real. If the story sounded fishy the first time you heard it, it is. Anecdotal stories absent research are VERY dangerous. It’s another reason why solid quantitative research is a must.

8. Assuming that your product or service will sell itself with no promotion

“Build a better mousetrap and they will come”—sounds romantic. Unfortunately, it’s not true. Of course product quality is critical when combined with sustained promotion and aggressive pricing. Marketing drives great products. Great products which are under-promoted eventually fail while other companies ultimately copy the original product and then succeed when they market more successfully.

9. Inconsistent messages

Know who you are and drive it home with consistency to your audience. Don’t reinvent yourself each year. Too many companies look for “this year’s campaign”. Your consumers don’t care about your fiscal years. They have impressions of products and services built over time. Say the right things and keep saying them smartly and evolve these thoughts over time. Stand for something!

10. Not having a vision for the future

We live in a world where the pace of change is accelerating at a rate we’ve never seen before. New technologies can quickly make a business obsolete. Where is your company going? While none of us know with certainty what the future holds, you can be certain that if you just wait to react your business will fail. Always be looking over the horizon. Change is today’s status quo.

Avoid these ten unfortunately common mistakes like the plague and your odds for success will improve dramatically.

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