Over the years, I have noticed seven mistakes that come up again and again in marketing messages used by a wide spectrum of businesses and non-profits. Any one of these mistakes can harm or even kill your organization, but a lot of people make more than one of these mistakes. Here they are:
Mistake #1: Knowing all the answers…instead of doing some research.
“Everyone knows us.” “I watch that TV show so we should advertise on that show.” “People know we have the best prices and best service.” When you think you know the all the answers, you cannot learn a thing. And you’re on your way to killing your business.
Yet what your prospective customers know and don’t know about you…what they watch on TV… what they like and don’t like…all of this and more is information that is available with a little research. Much of this research has already been done and is available with a little effort if you know where to find it. The rest can be obtained with surveys, interviews or other customer engagement efforts such as focus groups and social media.
Mistake #2: Creating a better mousetrap…and thinking you’ve created desire.
Developing a better product, service or offer doesn’t guarantee success. A lot of business owners are resentful that customers continue to buy what they consider to be “inferior” products or services. But they have failed to build awareness or desire about their products. They mistakenly think “word of mouth” should be enough marketing for a better product.
But where would Apple’s innovations like the iPod, iPad and iPhone be without advertising, promotional and PR efforts directed by Steve Jobs? Who would have heard about them? Innovation without communication is a recipe for commercial failure.
Mistake #3: Spraying… saying nothing by saying everything.
You can avoid this mistake by saying one thing with one ad — that is, limiting yourself to one message in each ad. I always equate it to the old trick of a “mystic” lying down on a bed of nails. He is able to do that and remain unharmed because there are so many nails close together that none of them penetrates.
The same is true with ads that have dozens of points and tons of information — they don’t get through. Use one nail…or one message…and watch it penetrate.
Mistake #4: Forgetting that no one cares how great you are…prospects care how great you’ll make them.
Quit patting yourself on the back and start patting customers on the back. Do you want praise or revenue? Pump up the customer instead. Help improve the customer’s life. Make it easier, more comfortable, happier, richer or more secure.
Mistake #5: Being “creative” instead of effective.
Remember the primary purpose for being “creative” in advertising is to break through, drive home a message and move people to action. Beyond that, you’re just using marketing dollars to compensate for your lost dream to make movies or star on Broadway. Crazy and amateurish efforts at being creative in ads often miss an opportunity to connect with a customer’s needs and make a sale.
Mistake #6: Changing your message too often.
It’s a fact that you’ll get tired of your logo, motto and ads much quicker than the market will. But prospects tend to focus and pay attention to your marketing when they’re in need of your product or service category. Why pull your best message out of the marketplace — unless everyone in the market area is already a customer?
Mistake #7: Failing to simplify…being hard to understand, difficult to buy.
Many manufacturers make this mistake. Our business-to-business clients know we stress focusing on key benefits, then pushing prospects to the next step. That is, letting them drill down to the next level as they go while offering all along the way to provide a quote or give them more information. Spend more time making it easy to respond, and you’ll be rewarded with more frequent and more qualified responses.
Avoid the mistakes and thrive… or make them and R.I.P.