jennifer hakim marketing pr consultant london - marketing mistakes

We’ve all been there. What seemed like a good marketing plan has now crashed majorly and it’s time to pick up the pieces. In the midst of chaos comes the time to evaluate our mistakes, count our blessings and learn from it all to build a stronger foundation for the future. We’ve compiled the biggest marketing mistakes we’ve come across so you can learn from our experience and avoid them in return:

1) Abusing your consumers’ trust

Nobody likes being lied to. Don’t make fake promises to your consumer or lie about your product/service. Not only can it cost you current or potential customers and hurt your sales, but it is also likely to get you in legal trouble and in need of years of PR damage control. A real lose-lose.

2) Choosing the wrong spokesman

Humans are the best way to communicate to humans. Choosing a person of authority to spread your corporate values and become the face of your brand is a genius idea if you can afford it, but choosing your spokesman must go through a long and diligent process. Choosing the wrong person can get your business in trouble if it later turns out their ethics or lifestyle clash with yours.

3) Doing what they do

Don’t be a copycat. There is a reason why your competition is doing what they are doing, and they went through the research and strategy stages to get to that point. Do the same for your own business without staring at what they are putting out there, as what works for others might not work for you. Lift your eyes up from their campaigns to avoid missing out on your own great ideas, and differentiate your brand from others to build a loyal customer base.

4) Rejecting novelty

As much as we are promoting originality and personal marketing campaigns, there is however much to be gained from keeping up with marketing trends. Be curious about new technology and industry news to stay current and relevant. Sheltering yourself from novelty can keep you from learning new ways to get your brand messages across, and from finding inspiration for future campaigns. Subscribe to marketing blogs so you won’t miss out.

5) Being impatient

There is nothing more harmful for your business than being too impatient. Pulling campaigns before they have time to succeed, drawing conclusions when you are still testing out ideas, revoking one channel or another over early disappointments are all damaging attitudes towards marketing that could cost you your budget and time in the long run. Take the time to establish deadlines and a realistic timeline and stick to the plan. The time to observe results will come soon enough, and more importantly, being inconsistent can make you look unprofessional.

6) Trying to make bad numbers look good

We’ve all met this colleague who could ‘charm his way into any deal’, bending numbers and embellishing the truth to make a good sale. Not only is this unethical and get everyone in serious legal trouble, this is also a ‘performance’ most business people can read through. It only takes one employee to damage the reputation of your company, as well as your marketing efforts, so make sure all departments are on the same page when it comes to corporate ethics.

7) Ignoring who your customer is

You may think this is a given, but there are still (startup) brands out there that skip market research. Getting to know your customers or target audience is a crucial step for developing your marketing strategy, in order to establish the right message for them. Think about it this way: How can you fix someone’s problem if you don’t listen to what is bothering them? Even in 2016, we live in a real world with real people who need human marketing, and you need to get inside their head to find out what makes them tick.

8) Going for offensive ads

This one deserves a very special place in the top 12 biggest marketing mistakes. Even after so many years of marketing and PR consulting, it is still really painful to see how far some of the advertisers out there can take it. It can be beneficial to cause outrage shall the cause be noble (think PETA and its anti-shearing ads), but as a general rule you won’t get anywhere insulting your customer. When in doubt, always go back to number 7 and get to know your audience before you do anything that might lose them (and their friends) forever. I’m looking at you, Sprite (#BrutallySexist).

9) Falling for marketing gadgets

Marketing tools are often fun and mostly useful, but one can easily get lost in the ocean of new tech available on the market. Start with getting your budget right and don’t go overspending your marketing money on a product you might not need just yet. It is easy to waste an hour of your time answering those weekly sales calls from new marketing softwares, and giving them a chance by testing their product because why not. What started like a way to get things done quicker can end up being a source of nightmares as you could end up spending hours training for this new tool for very limited results. So don’t become a slave to technology and choose wisely.

10) Wandering without goals

This has been said over and over again, but it’s still a golden rule: do not jump into anything without strategy. Know what you are getting yourself into by building a solid marketing strategy or you will end up failing without knowing where the failure came from. Don’t waste your whole quarter being too busy doing the wrong things. Trying out new channels, shifting strategies or even rebranding can all be what your business needs but first you must know why you are making this choice (and what you expect from it).

11) Underestimating the power of content

A classic mistake made by marketers is overproducing content, and prioritising quantity over quality. No one ever said you must publish one blog a day, or produce weekly Youtube videos to keep your audience interested. This might actually turn them off in the long run. Focus on what you are really bringing to the table, and how this is teaching your audience something they don’t know. When it comes to online content, do not even think you can trick Google into getting you better rankings with poor quality content, as since April 2015 this might actually hurt your SEO efforts. One piece of great, original and useful content can go a long way (thousands of shares if placed wisely), so take the time to get it right, even if it is the only one you produce this quarter.

12) Over-selling

Be subtle about your marketing. Of course your product is the best, and of course your customer has been waiting for it all along, but there is a fine line between being confident in your brand and over-selling it. This is especially true when it comes to social media: over-posting can result in considerable losses of followers, and content can easily end up suffering from a lack of direction. Think about your social media presence as stories, and don’t push your product in every post (you might not think they do, but the users do notice). Take your time building your brand and engage with your audience. Let the conversation flow and naturally lead to sales.

If you have ever made one of these huge marketing mistakes, make sure you know what drove you to this situation and what you can learn from the backlash. In business it is essential to be able to learn from mistakes and draw constructive conclusions before you can rise from them. Schedule a team meeting to discuss your mistakes and find solutions internally, as this will build a more honest and loyal work environment. Don’t forget that a marketing mistake can be a blessing in disguise if you take the time to investigate it.

Originally posted on the Jennifer Hakim Communications blog.

Read more: Marketers Who Treat Social Media As One Size Fits All Are Making A Tragic Mistake