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The Six Biggest Marketing Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

Beyond Niche Marketing is pleased to offer a guest post opportunity to Jodi Kaplan of KaplanCopy.

The Six Biggest Marketing Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

1. Spraying and Praying

What’s spraying and praying? It’s closing your eyes, spinning around, and hoping to hit something with your marketing.

Here’s a true story. Mike and David each decided to start their own businesses. Both want to publish e-newsletters offering benefit information to US military personnel. Mike raised $7 million and used it for office space, staff, furniture, and ads on the sides of buses in Washington, DC. David spent $30 to run off 500 issues of the first newsletter on bright yellow paper and stood in front of the Pentagon handing them out to people as they left the building.

Mike burned through the cash in six months, went broke, and lost his house. David had 250 signups by the time he got home that first day, and built it virally to 300,000 subscribers.

Thousands of people saw Mike’s ads, but they weren’t necessarily military people – the target audience. David, on the other hand, figured out where to find his target audience, went there, and offered them something relevant.

If you want to catch trout, go to a river, not the ocean.

2. Believing your own hype

Sony ran an ad two years ago with a headline that said, “ It’s not the first Blu-ray Disc Player on the market. It’s the first Sony. (Isn’t that the same thing?) “

Nope. The headline says nothing about what the customer will gain by buying the product. Why is Sony better? What will this machine give me that other players won’t? Will I be the first to own one?

3. Talking about features instead of benefits

A benefit is something about your product or service that makes your customers’ lives better. Tell your prospects why and how your product helps them rather than what it looks like or how you package it.

A feature of a calculator is that it’s solar powered. A benefit is that you never have to buy batteries. To go back to the Sony example, what if they’d said, “Our system installs in minutes without complicated instructions. You’ll feel as if you have your own private movie theatre.”

Highlighting benefits such as these in your advertising will make your product more appealing. Benefits can also help you stand out from your competitors. Imagine if you promised (and delivered) easy installation and the companies competing with you didn’t. Which do you think people (especially non-technical people) would choose?

4. Succumbing to Super Bowl ad syndrome (splurging on one big ad)

It’s tempting to think that a big advertising splash can get you lots of attention. InfoUSA’s SalesGenie Super Bowl ads have become famous (maybe infamous). The company says that their ads target small businesses, sales people, and entrepreneurs. Lots of people watch the Super Bowl, but they don’t necessarily fit that profile.

For $2.7 million (per ad), they could have run an ongoing mail, email, and banner ad marketing campaign focusing on niche markets and small business magazines and reached ONLY the people they say are their target audience.

5. Judging your marketing based on what appeals to you, rather than your audience

Many years ago, the company I worked for was producing a brochure for a product aimed at Latin America. I went to the graphics department to take a look at it, and saw that the design was purple and black. I said, “We need to change it.” Now, I don’t like purple, but that wasn’t the problem. In largely Catholic Latin America, purple and black are the colors associated with funerals!

6. Talking about yourself

Many businesses make the mistake of talking about how long they’ve been in business, or how many stores they have. Your customers just want to know if you have something that solves their problems. Say “you” and “your”, rather than “I” and “we”. It’s about them, not you.

If you sell grass seed, don’t go on and on about the 10 years you spent hybridizing seeds and growing test patches. Instead, tell people they’ll get a beautiful, thick green lawn with very little work. Show pictures of happy customers in front of their lawns, with before and after pictures. Better yet, include testimonials about how happy they are with your product.

It’s not about your grass seed; it’s about their lawn.

Jodi Kaplan fixes “broken” marketing. If your marketing is costing more money than it’s making and people leave your Web site without buying, your marketing is broken. If you’d like to fix it, visit KaplanCopy for free articles, marketing resources, and information on marketing services.To get your free 25-page Small Business Marketing Guide, visit