10 Common Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

By Jeanette McMurtry

Learning from other marketers’ mistakes is always better than making your own. This information presents ten all‐too‐common marketing mistakes businesses of all sizes make and how to avoid them so you can keep your sales and marketing efforts on track.

Making assumptions

Assuming that you know your customers, their preferences, their loyalty to you, and the competitive environment in which you operate is one of the most costly mistakes you can make. In most cases, you’re likely wrong.

With all the research and feedback tools available today to help you monitor the voice of your customers and their real needs and attitudes, there’s no reason to ever assume anything. Regularly survey your customers to see what they like and don’t like about your brand, your products, and your service. Do surveys to update your Net Promoter Score (NPS) as well. During transactions, ask for individual feedback and engage in social listening. Analyze results to identify trends and things you can do to maintain and increase satisfaction.

Ignoring customer complaints

With all the social media channels available, unhappy customers can share a bad brand experience with literally thousands of people in a matter of minutes. In addition to their Facebook, Twitter, and other social accounts, they can quickly post negative reviews about you and/or your products on Yelp, Google, Amazon, and other sites that masses of consumers browse daily.

Whenever this happens, and it will, respond immediately on the site the customer used for the complaint, and let the unhappy customer and others know that you care about each customer and ask what you can do to make it right.

Faking popularity

Just like all the “fake news” on social media channels, there’s often also a lot of “fake likes.” Just look at your Twitter messages; chances are you have an offer from someone trying to sell you “followers.” Like fake news, this isn’t acceptable by any business standards because you’re portraying your brand as more popular and successful than you are and misleading consumers about your market position.

Using dirty data

Nothing’s quite like getting a great offer from a brand you’ve been loyal to for years only to find out that the great offer applies only to new customers! When this happens, it’s often the result of a brand not cleaning up its data to sort out prospects and customers. With all the customer relationship management (CRM) and data management systems available today at many price points, there’s no excuse for this anymore.

Customers expect personalized communications about their relationships with you and rewards for their loyalty, and when, after years of giving you their business, non‐customers get a better offer than you’ve given them, you can damage that relationship beyond repair.

Competing on price

Discounts and price cuts have their place but only temporarily, such as when you’re trying to stimulate first‐time trial and build a base of customers for future email or social media campaigns.

Keeping prices low for an extended period of time or offering low prices frequently just puts customers on notice to hold off and never pay full price. You quickly position your brand as the budget option, which limits your appeal, and once you lower a price, you’ll have a hard time ever raising it again. Although reducing prices to meet sales goals may be tempting, keep in mind that repeated price promotions can erode brand value and create fickle customers who abandon you for the competitors’ promotions.

Ignoring the emotional drivers of choice

90 percent of people’s thoughts and behavior are driven by their unconscious minds. People respond more to dopamine rushes that make them feel euphoric and unbeatable and oxytocin that makes them feel connected, accepted, and loved than they respond to clever ads or blow‐out pricing specials. When you tap the emotional drivers that influence how people feel about themselves and the world around them, you influence behavior. All you do should be based on creating positive feelings and on building trust. Without trust, you can’t tap into much of anything else.

Forgetting to edit

If your letter, email, website, print ad, sign, or billboard has a typo in it, people remember that goof and forget the rest. Not only can sloppy mistakes make a bad first impression among prospects, but they can also make people question the amount of attention you pay to detail when producing your products, managing your invoices, and executing on customer service. Edit carefully and get someone else to look over your shoulder to make sure nothing slips by. Your brand is only as good as your reputation.

Offering what you can’t deliver

When you make promises you’re not sure you can deliver on, you put yourself in the category of bad salespeople who can’t be trusted. In addition, if you try to roll out a product that doesn’t work yet or before you’ve worked out all the details for execution, service, and troubleshooting, you set customers up to have a bad experience with you. Either way, you lose trust and potential sales. In most, if not all cases, those disappointed customers can find another supplier from whom to purchase and to whom to assign their loyalty.

Treating customers impersonally

Every customer is a person who likes to be treated as such. No one likes to be a number. Today, with all the CRM technology, you can usually identify who is on the other end of a phone call. When you can, you should address that person by name, thank her for her business, and ask if you can do anything else to make her happy.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and take a hard look at all your customer interactions. Are they as personal as they should be? If not, invest in better list‐checking, a central database of customers, training in how to pronounce customer names, and whatever else it takes to allow your business to treat all customers like important individuals.

Blaming the customer

It’s easy to think that an irate customer is out of line and overreacting. But regardless, you need to take the high road and let the customer be right — within reason, of course. As Neiman Marcus is famous for stating, “The customer is always right” when it to comes to how she feels she should have been treated or the ­quality of product she thought she was buying.

This doesn’t mean you have to let people take advantage of you. But when someone has to vent, listen. Try to offer a solution that you both can live with. Whether you work it out or not, you need to remain professional, reasonable, calm, and courteous. If you don’t and even if you were justified, the customer can easily smear your reputation online, and that’s a risk you can’t take.