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8 Marketing Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs


by Atul Minocha, partner at Chief Outsiders and author of “Lies, Damned Lies, and Marketing: Separate Fact from Fiction and Drive Growth

Do you ever feel like you’re spending money like crazy on marketing and getting little or nothing in return? If so, you might be tempted to pull the plug on marketing altogether.

That would be a big mistake.

An effective marketing strategy can mean the difference between your organization’s success and failure. To maximize your strategy, there are eight common marketing mistakes you should avoid at all costs.

1. Focusing Solely on Data.

Most marketers firmly believe the old saying, “What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get improved.” They track various metrics, hoping the data will show them how to improve customer engagement.

The problem is some of the most important elements of customer engagement — like emotional response — can’t be tracked easily. How do you measure whether or not you’re tugging at their heartstrings?

The real power of marketing comes from synergy of both the left brain (data) and the right brain (emotion). Focusing solely on the data will never lead to optimal results.

2. Defining Your Niche Incorrectly.

Don’t get me wrong: specialization is important. However, too many businesses use verticals as their focus and, in so doing, limit their future growth unnecessarily by leaving their real points of differentiation muddled up and hidden.

Discover your own unique traits and expertise and present them to any and all who might appreciate what you bring to the table. This will put you in a much stronger position for long-term, sustained growth.

3. Using Digital Marketing Exclusively.

It can be tempting to dismiss traditional marketing as obsolete and focus solely on digital marketing. However, the market is absolutely saturated with digital tools, options, and platforms, and they’ve created so much noise that potential customers just tune most of them out.

In a world drowning in digital ads, a billboard, print ad, or poster can have a surprising impact. By doing things a little differently, you will set yourself apart. If you only focus on digital, you might miss out on some excellent marketing opportunities that traditional media offers.

4. Conducting Ineffective Customer Research.

When it comes to customer insight, the quality of conversation and dialogue matters far more than quantity. Getting a handful of customers to speak, deeply and honestly, is far more helpful than simply accumulating hundreds or thousands of shallow survey answers.

Focus on having a few rich, engaging conversations with individuals in your target audience. This will provide more meaningful and actionable insights. And quite likely, it will cost you much less than sending out hundreds of surveys.

5. Buying Likes and Followers.

Many companies sink large amounts of money into buying likes and followers. That’s a big mistake: the appearance of customer engagement is not customer engagement.

The problem with buying artificial likes and followers is they don’t really drive business. It might be exciting to see big numbers after your posts, but you’re not creating actual engagement.

Take the money you would invest in fake likes and spend it on creating deeper engagement and converting real customers into brand advocates. Just a handful of people with a positive view of your company is worth all the fake followers in the world.

6. Constantly Looking for the “Latest and Greatest” MarTech Tool.

If you’re not getting the most out of your current marketing technology tools, then the newest tool probably won’t work for you either. I see so many CEOs hopping from one tool to the next—spending lots of money along the way—in hopes one of them will perform magic.

If you invest the time and money to learn the tool and train your employees, you’re going to get your money’s worth out of it. Be wary of new-tool hype, and don’t buy into the idea that some fancy tool is going to take the place of good training and hard work.

7. Engaging in Random Acts of Marketing.

If you’re not getting good results from your marketing efforts, you probably don’t need more tactics; you need better tactics and a decent strategy upon which these tactics are premised.

Your marketing department may be doing many things well. However, if their tactics are being executed without a well-thought-out and cohesive strategy, those tactics can actually begin to counteract each other.

When that happens, you wind up with a bunch of random acts of marketing. They may look great individually, but together, they’ll lead to a suboptimal or even negative return on your total investment.

8. Focusing Exclusively on Longtail Phrases.

Sometimes, companies will use long keyword phrases with very specific terms in an attempt to climb in search engine rankings while saving money. However, if the phrases are too long and/or esoteric, it’s very unlikely any real potential customer would ever search for them…which does you no good, no matter how high in the rankings you are.

Remember, your primary goal is not to save money but to make money. This goal should drive your SEO plan. So, use a combination of long tail phrases and common terms, striking the right balance between visibility and specificity.


Author of “Lies, Damned Lies, and Marketing: Separate Fact from Fiction and Drive Growth” Atul Minocha is a partner at Chief Outsiders. Atul works in a wide range of industries with experience in startups and Fortune 500 companies like Honeywell, Kodak, and Toyota. He is a professor at the Hult International Business School, a mentor and an angel investor with Sierra Angels, a Vistage speaker, and a Forbes contributor.