Top Marketing Mistakes You Probably Don’t Realize You Make

marketing your business

If you work in marketing, you know that it is a fast-paced environment where you often have many different tasks to work on at once. No sooner is one job wrapped up, than you move on to the next big campaign; often juggling multiple tasks across different campaigns, each competing for your time and attention. Every industry out there needs a good marketing strategy, from marine and industrial applications such as working on a Volvo Penta, to a finance industry or clothing store, so you have no end of different clients in different industries. With subtle (or not so subtle) differences in the tactics that work in that industry. If you are working on marketing and your efforts just aren’t working as well as you might hope, don’t blame marketing or assume marketing doesn’t work in your market. Here we put together just a few of the top marketing mistakes you might not realize you’re making. These mistakes cost money and hamper your growth, so fixing them is a top priority.

top marketing mistakes

Top marketing mistakes you don’t realize you’re making

I worked in marketing for nearly 4 decades and I’ve seen probably every marketing mistake out there but today we’ll focus on just a few of the top marketing mistakes I see most frequently.

Marketing doesn’t equal sales

Marketing isn’t sales, although great marketing makes selling more effective and increases revenue (we call this marketing lift). Marketing involves all the tactics leading to sales and includes the classic 4 Ps:

  • Adverting and promotion:
    • advertising
    • sales promotion
    • direct marketing and digital marketing
    • personal selling
    • public relations
  • Product, including elements such as product quality, brand image, brand personality. Thus, a product is the sum of all the physical aspects of the product plus all the attributes associated with the product, such as warrantees.
  • Pricing, including elements such as discounts and rebates, competitive pricing, promotional pricing, bundling, and many more aspects involved in pricing your products.
  • Distribution of your product to end users, as well as reverse logistics to get the product back for a refund, repair, or recycling.
the 4 p's of marketing
Image courtesy of Business2Community

By the same token, sales don’t occur out of thin air. Instead, the sales process involves a customer journey from the recognition that they’re missing something they need, through:

  1. awareness
  2. information search
  3. evaluation
  4. purchase
  5. post-purchase evaluation

Your job, as a marketer, is to ease consumers through the journey from beginning to end, not just sell them something. If you only focus on the purchase portion of the customer journey, you cut off your pipeline of sales at both ends and your results are bound to disappoint. Thus, you need strategies, like the one’s shown in the image below, to address each stage of the customer journey.

digital marketing experts
Image courtesy of SEO Web Design

Failure to build a comprehensive marketing strategy

A marketing strategy acts as a roadmap to guide you through various marketing tactics. A strategy fits all the tactical elements together so the sum is stronger than each part and everything works together seamlessly. Building a marketing strategy isn’t a one-time thing. You must build a comprehensive marketing strategy, then continually update that strategy as internal and external factors change to present new opportunities and/or threats.

Failing to build a well-researched, complete marketing strategy or updating the strategy frequently is one of the top marketing mistakes I see all the time from companies at all levels.

Not carefully considering your customers 

When I worked for the US SBA (small business association), the first question I asked would-be entrepreneurs was, “Who is in your target market?” I inevitably got the answer, everyone. And that’s a top marketing mistake.

Sure, nearly every business will sell to anyone but your target market represents those consumers MOST LIKELY to buy your brand. In constructing your marketing strategy, you build around what that target market looks for in the products they buy, where they find out about products, what their “hot buttons” are, what messaging might drive them to purchase a particular product, and other features unique to your target market.

In constructing your advertising campaign, use your insights about your target market to control everything from the images, text, and ad placement so you selectively reach that target market with messaging that drives action. Put yourself in the shoes of your target market members, often called personas, and keep them at the forefront during the entire campaign creation process. Often, you’ll have multiple personas, including both primary and secondary personas, as well a those who are not targets for your marketing, anti-personas. Likely, each persona requires adjustments to your advertising campaign to specifically target their interests and needs.

Image courtesy of Buffer

Trying to get too cute with your marketing

Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones. If you’re creating campaigns that are too “out there” you might have a lower impact, the program might cost a lot more of your budget and not produce the desired lift. Instead, try to think of simple ideas first and see how they work.

Sometimes, being too out there also represents a threat to your brand. If no one implemented a particular tactic or message, it may indicate they rejected the idea because they determined it wouldn’t work based on testing or experience. Worst case, you can create a campaign that damages your brand by taking too many risks that don’t pay off. For instance, Asus thought they were being clever by taking advantage of a double entendre but it backfired spectacularly when the media and consumers viewed the post as sexist.

sexism on social networks

Not keeping up to date with the latest practices

Marketing changed a lot over the 4 decades since I got my MBA and started working in marketing. Today, digital marketing, which didn’t exist when I started, is now more than half of the marketing budget for most brands. Digital marketing requires an entirely different set of skills, especially the ability to analyze data to make informed decisions. In the old days, marketing data was anemic, so we didn’t teach students much beyond simple marketing research skills. Now, marketers need to understand big data and derive insights from multiple data sources.

Check out the image below for more regarding the skills needed to thrive in today’s marketing world and where gaps exist between supply and demand for specific skills.

digital marketing skills gap
Image courtesy of Marketing Profs


These are just a few of the top marketing mistakes you might make without realizing you’re even making a mistake. It’s important that you broaden your mind and are open to new suggestions and tactics. Consider updating or building your marketing plan, including knowing your target market, competition, and external environment such as legal and economic issues. Keep your skills up-to-date or hire new employees with the idea of filling any gaps. Craft campaigns for the entire customer journey and include metrics to determine how much lift you get at each stage along the journey, and don’t try to get too cute with your marketing messages.

What are some top things you like to do to help with your marketing techniques? Let us know in the comments below.

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