Who hasn’t let a typo slip by, misspelled the CEO’s name, or
printed the wrong phone number somewhere? Those marketing
mistakes don’t warrant an article. In fact, just one word of
how-to-fix-it advice is sufficient: proofread.
Here are a few more important marketing mistakes that just about
every business manager out there makes, along with a recommended
fix that will help you attract more business and get better
results from your marketing, regardless of how big or small your
marketing budget is.
Mistake #1: We think that marketing is something we
“We need to do some marketing.” It’s the first thing you think
when you need to boost business. Problem is, when you think of
marketing as something you “do,” you’re usually thinking about
publicity, direct mail, flyers, email, ads and promotion.
Marketing is much more than merely promotion, and it’s rarely a
The real fix is to expand your definition of marketing. Instead
of thinking of it as something you “do,” think of marketing as
anything that helps or hinders the sale or use of your product
or service. This includes: your location, the attitudes of the
person who answers the phone, your name, pricing, policies,
proposals, personality, and more.
Before you write a promotional word, do a “help or hinder”
once-over. Make a list of what’s helping you attract business
and what’s getting in the way. Figure out what obstacles you
can quickly fix or remove? What “helps” can you enhance or
spotlight? Until the help-or-hinder homework is done, working on
promotion is premature.
Mistake #2: We breathe too much of our own exhaust.
We are such big believers in our businesses that we can’t wait
to show it off. We admire our attributes and inhale our
excellence. Then we exhale it all into our marketing
communications. The problem is, when you do that, your marketing
is all about you. And people don’t care about you. They care
If your marketing is going to get any response at all, the first
thing it must do is connect to something prospects care about.
Connect before you convince. Try this four-step exercise:
1. Describe your products and services. Get the exhaust fumes
2. Identify one or two attributes or “attraction factors”
3. What is the benefit, the need or the want, that is satisfied
by those attributes?
4. Why is that benefit important, personally, to the target
For example, Joy dishwashing liquid (descprition) has real lemon
(attribute) that cuts grease and leaves dishes shinier
(benefit). “What a nice reflection on you!” (Connects to what
she cares about.) Connect to what people want. Not to what you
Mistake #3: We all look alike.
A bank is a bank is a bank. Realtors, lawyers and consultants
are a dime a dozen. The list goes on. But here’s the good news:
the more two businesses look alike, the more important each
difference becomes, and the more impact even the tiniest
difference will have on setting you apart. Why?
Consider identical twins. What’s the first thing you do when you
meet a pair? You try to find a little something to tell them
apart. The same is true for your business. Your prospects are
looking for a point of difference—just about anything—they can
use to set you apart from your competition.
To find your points of difference, start with your points of
contact, or “touch points” in your company. Make a list.
Business card, fax cover sheet, invoice, phone greeting, front
door, home page, etc. Then look at what the competition does and
ask yourself how you can do it differently. Just a little bit
will make a big difference, because your prospects are looking
For now, try the Help or Hinder, Connect Before You Convince and
Find Your Points of Difference tools to make your marketing more
meaningful and effective. Be wary, too, of unrealistic
expectations, faulty research, deadly bullet points and lack of
follow through-- four other common marketing mistakes.
Terri Langhans is the author of the book “The 7 Marketing
Mistakes Every Business Makes (And How To Fix Them)” and COE
(Chief of Everything) at blah blah, her speaking and marketing retreat business
for companies who want to be anything but blah.