10 Biggest Marketing Mistakes…

When you review as many sales letters, websites, brochures, emails, promotions, campaigns and marketing decisions as we do, you see some really excellent work.

But you also get to see a lot of mistakes. Big mistakes. Costly mistakes. Howlers.

And the crazy thing is, many of these are easily corrected.

Mistake Number 1: Failure to Implement (FTI)

We see it all the time.

There are clear opportunities to create more sales revenue through marketing in a business – cross selling, running Google AdWords campaigns, re-running successful email and direct mail letters more frequently, writing better proposals, doing more structured follow up, creating a prospect nurturing system.

We see the opportunity, the business owner sees the opportunity – yet the “busyness” of business gets in the way.

And they fail to implement.

The sad truth is, if you don’t spend time developing your marketing today, nothing bad will happen tomorrow, next week or maybe even next month.

But as the months roll by, FTI means that nothing is developed, nothing is improved and the results don’t improve.

Over time, FTI saps the energy and spirit from a business. The opportunity cost is huge.

As we often say – “There are no guarantees in marketing – except that if you do nothing, nothing will change”.

Make a commitment today … and start working on your marketing.

Mistake Number 2: Failing to Have a Testing Mindset

As a rough rule of thumb, of 10 things that you test in marketing, 2 or 3 will work first time around, 3 will completely fail and the other 4 merit further testing until they can be conclusively added to the failures or successes.

When you understand that, you accept that you need to run tests to determine what works.

Yet so many times we see people put all their eggs in one basket.

They send out 20,000 flyers instead of testing with 2,000. They mail the entire list of 10,000 names before testing their idea on 1,000. They book 10 ads (they got a great deal) before testing one. They don’t test multiple Google PPC Ads against each other.

And then, when the inevitable failure occurs, they give up on marketing because “it doesn’t work” and they have no more budget (or spirit) left to run more tests.

Test everything, as small as you can (to limit costs and risks) before rolling it out. Testing puts you on the path to success.

Mistake Number 3: Failing to Continue to run Successful Marketing

This one comes from our friend and world-renowned marketer, Jay Abraham.

We often see otherwise savvy business people who want to replace a successful direct mail letter with a new one, or a hard working flyer with a “better” one – making wholesale changes and in the process running the risk of killing successful campaigns.

Often because they labour under the mistaken impression that it needs to be kept fresh, or because they are bored with it.

Big mistake. Huge.

As long as a campaign or strategy continues to generate profit – keep it running until it stops working. We have clients who have been running the same campaigns, with the same offer, month in month out for years – and the money just keeps rolling in.

Imagine if they had ‘refreshed’, or replaced those campaigns?

(N.B. That’s not to say you shouldn’t always be testing new ways to get even better results … just don’t “turn off the tap” until you have something better to replace it with).

Mistake Number 4: Throwing Good Money after Bad on Marketing that isn’t Working

This is the flip side of Mistake Number 3, and it’s tough to spot if you’re not recording and measuring your results.

Businesses in every sector are wasting many thousands of pounds right now, funding marketing (adverts and exhibitions are two common culprits) that are simply sucking their profits.

Directories are also often culprits because it’s all to easy to throw some money at an ad, let it run without measurement, then simply renew it when the sales person calls about the next issue.

After all, it’s getting your name out there, right?


If the ad (or sales letter, or flyer, or whatever it might be) isn’t paying for itself many times over, then you’re better off without it.

And the money you save can be invested into doing more of the marketing that is working for you.

Mistake Number 5: Failure to Measure.

Amazingly, this is a mistake we see day in, day out – even from experienced marketers and savvy business people.

They simply fail to measure.

If you don’t know how many enquiries, how much conversion and how much profit each of your marketing strategies is generating, then you need to find out, right now!

You’ve probably heard this saying – “What you measure you can manage”. Well the reverse is true too – “What you don’t measure you can’t manage”.

Are you managing this vitally important part of your business?

Mistake Number 6: Failing to Understand and Exploit Lifetime Value

Let’s say you send a direct mail campaign to 5,000 people. You get 50 enquiries, 20 get a ‘quote’, and 5 make a purchase.

The mailing cost £3,000 and the 5 purchases bought in £1,000 each.

As your gross profit margin is 50%, on the face of it this is a clear failure. Costs of £3,000 exceed profit of £2,500 by £500.

However, when you consider that each of those 5 new clients will (on average) spend £1,000 four times per year, for the next 3 years, bringing in £12,000 each at 50% gross profit margin things change. Dramatically.

Your true numbers are £3,000 cost to create £60,000 in sales and £30,000 in gross profit.

That’s £10 back for every £1 invested!

Many hugely successful campaigns and strategies are sidelined because success was measured against the value of the first sale, rather than the true value, which is the lifetime value.

Mistake Number 7: The Curse of Assumption.

You’ve spent years doing what you do … you know your business inside out, and you’re absolutely comfortable in your environment.

But the people you’re trying to sell to probably don’t know a tenth as much as you about your product and or service – so never assume they do.

Spell it out.

Tell your prospects how you will save them time, save them hassle, take away risk, make them look great, help them make money, help them succeed or whatever it is that your business can do for them.

Mistake Number 8: Failing to Call for Action.
We know that people need information in order to make a commitment (either to buy; request information, or whatever your desired action might be).

It’s important to realise that they may also need a push in the right direction – to be lead.

Once you’ve given your prospects all the information they need to make an informed decision about you – tell them what to do next:

“Call me today on 01234 567890”
“Click here to find out more about…”
“Sign up here for special offers”
“Purchase NOW!”

By leading your prospect by the hand through the sales process, and by asking for the order, you can dramatically increase your conversion rates, and your revenue.

Mistake Number 9: Believing Short Copy Rules.

“People are too busy to read much these days”.

This is a common, but mistaken, belief that holds many people back from creating a marketing breakthrough in their business.

While it is true that today we read a smaller percentage of everything that crosses our path in a normal day than we used to (the sheer volume of information has risen, and continues to rise dramatically), most people are reading more today than ever before.

And another truth is that buyers are readers. They want good information.

The key to creating great marketing is not to “keep it short and to the point” – but to make sure that your web pages, emails, ads and direct mail letters are so relevant, informative, compelling and inspiring that the recipient devours your message, and takes appropriate action.

For that, you will almost certainly need longer copy.

If you’re still not sure, test it.

Write two letters: one as short as you can, one as long as it needs to be to make a compelling case for responding, or buying your product or service. Send each to half of your database and see what happens.

Mistake Number 10: Believing that Failure is Not an Option.

It may sound perverse, but in marketing, even a failure can be a success.

Let’s say you create an advert for the local paper, promoting your latest product. You design the ad, pay the paper … and nothing happens. No phone calls, no emails.

Failure? To a degree, yes – the ad certainly hasn’t done what you wanted it to.

But equally, as long as you’ve measured the (lack of) response, you’ll have learned not to waste your hard earned money on running that ad again (see mistake number 4!).

Even when your marketing doesn’t lead directly to a sale, there are still valuable lessons that can be learned, which can save you time, money and effort further down the line.

If your marketing “isn’t working” (or if you don’t know whether it’s working or not), sorting out these top 10 mistakes should get you on the path to much better results.

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