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The Top 5 Most Common Marketing Failures

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… And how to avoid them

1. Everyone makes mistakes

If you know someone who doesn’t then please do post your review below! (that should guarantee no reviews!)

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. They are actually a critical part of learning in marketing. Embrace your mistakes and learn from them to gradually improve your marketing over time.

2. Forget that your customers are human individuals

This is a very common one. In a world of databases and data overload, it is easy to forget that each person is an individual. Let’s face it, us humans are complex beings with an ever-increasing amount of things going on in our lives.

Your business is very important to you but think about it, is it really that important to your customer? If you’re a doctor then the chances are yes but the broad majority of businesses are only a tiny part of a person’s life and really not that important to them.

Choose the timing, frequency and content of your marketing sympathetically based on what you think the lifestyles are of your customer base. For example, if you were marketing nappies to new mums, send them useful information on the subject,  not bombard them with nappy 2-for1 deals. They will be a much better customer for it (and you’ll even get some free word of mouth advertising out of it because the message contains useful information).

 3. Have a plan

Businesses up and down the land do ‘knee-jerk’ marketing and advertising. How many times have you heard, “oh god, sales are down, we need to do some more marketing!”?

Customers are smart and savvy nowadays. They’ll sniff out ‘knee-jerk’ marketing in a second and you’ll get negative feedback because of it – and probably a lot of unsubscribes!

You need to have a plan that you stick to. What are you going to send them and when? How are going to send it, email, SMS, letter, etc? Why is it going to be interesting to them? Do we think they’ll stay on our list because of it or unsubscribe?

Depending on your business your plan maybe days, weeks, months or even years long. Think of it as if you were ‘wooing a lover’! You want your customers to love you and you need to treat them accordingly.

4. Don’t rationalise bad marketing decisions

One of the biggest mistakes we can make as marketers is to rationalize bad decisions.  It is important that we accept and face the fact that we didn’t make the best choice.  Once we’ve overcome the hurdle of admitting fault it’s time to take action:

  • Focus on why a particular marketing tactic didn’t work
  • Determine how your team can improve going forward
  • Debrief other team members so they can avoid making the same mistakes

5. Keep your message consistent

What is your raison d’etre? Why would people choose you over your competition? Keep that message consistent in everything you do.

Taking the nappy company example from above. Let’s say their nappies were special because they prevented nappy rash. Then, everything they say should be related to nappy rash whether that be information, help, advice, articles or whatever.

The point is to keep reminding your customers why you’re so special.


With all the digital marketing tools we have at our disposal now, it’s easy to forget that each customer is an individual and may well be exposed to information about our business by email, SMS, Twitter, Facebook, advertising, etc, etc. The key is to have a plan, send useful and informative information, learn from your mistakes and keep your message consistent. Remember, you want your customers to love you.

Here are a few links that expand more on the topic;

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