Obviously, we often talk quite a bit about internet marketing here.  But no one can ignore ‘real world’ business development.  Marketing mistakes can lead to dissatisfied clients, ineffective strategies, and wasted budget.  Here are a few of the major mistakes many marketing companies sometimes fall into.

1. Lack of an Understanding of the Customer

A lot of marketing professionals tend to err on the side of a product-specific mind set.  Focusing mostly on the product itself, they can often neglect useful knowledge regarding the mindset of who wants or needs the product.  Even worse, many times marketers or company owners can be so convinced the product or methods employed are so “cutting edge” that they can’t possibly fail.  A strong example of this can be found by examining “New Coke” in 1985.  The marketing message may have been effective, but without a true understanding of the ideal customer (and their tendency to stick with a good thing) the product failed.

2. Failing to Listen

In the example above with “New Coke”, market research was undoubtedly done.  They probably ran focus groups, demographics, and broad analysis of the opportunity in the market.  What they perhaps failed to do, was listen directly to their existing customers, and ask the right questions of them.  By focusing on the buying behavior of who already buys your product rather than only identifying the buying behavior of those who don’t, you may save yourself a large amount of time, effort, and budget in a failed campaign.

3. Ignoring the Customers of their Customer

Another classic blunder for a marketing team to make is to pay full attention to the articulated needs of their client, without acknowledging the needs of the client’s own target market.  Often times a marketing company will appease a client in order to keep them happy, but will comply with ideas that may not be rooted in that client’s own customer base.  Peering into the root of your customer’s customer’s problem and solving it is crucial for a successful marketing strategy.

4. Guerilla Marketing Gone Wrong

Modern physical marketing is a mixed bag, with attempts at sensational activities resulting in social media spread and “viral” status.  Sometimes this works, other times it fails miserably.  Vespa recently hired attractive models to ride up to cafes, bars and restaurants, flirt with someone and hand them their “number.”  The number ended up connecting them to their local Vespa dealership.  Essentially, the scheme was a bait and switch, and it triggered the negativity one would expect after essentially suffering a rejection from an attractive model, and then being asked to buy something.

5. Putting the Company First

This falls slightly into the “customers of customers” advice above, but can be articulated quite well when looking at Sony’s approach to Betamax in the late 70s.  Sony released the format, but kept it proprietary, and didn’t listen what customers wanted out of a magnetic tape video system.  At the same time, JVC realized that what customers wanted was longer tape time, and they met that need.  By opening up their technology to several other companies, a wider adoption of the medium was achieved quickly, and with competitive pricing, VHS soon overtook Beta as the preferred medium.  The success can be tracked directly back to listening to customer needs and meeting them.  A successful marketing company can work with a client to discover, on a personal level, what the target market actually wants, and a way to give that to them.  As it turns out in the marketing world, the customer of a customer is always right.