Mike Connell

The Big Question: Most Common Marketing Mistakes

By: Mike Connell | September 22, 2017 | 
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marketing mistakesI confess. I still like to scroll through the Condescending Corporate Brand Page on Facebook.

Sure, they’ve been around for some time now (five years?), but they still play an important role in our industry.

It’s important to highlight/shame those brands and organizations that just don’t seem to get it.

Or worse, their marketing and PR teams who knowingly take advantage of social media audiences and their cravings for, oh, I don’t know… cat memes (#becausecats).

Needless to say, if your company or client make it onto that page, you know you’re doing—or have done—something terribly, terribly wrong.

Still, we are well aware that marketing is constantly evolving and adapting and it’s hard to keep up.

In fact, we are so keenly aware of this, we created the PR Dream Team to address that very problem.

Mistakes—many of them honest ones—are inevitably going to occur.

But once you’ve made one, it’s important to learn from it and strive to make sure it never happens again.

Sadly, that’s not always the case.

Time and time again we see people making the same marketing mistakes.

Blogging mistakes, social media mistakes, spelling and grammar mistakes, typos.

This week, The Big Question shines a light on what we’ve done wrong:

What are some of the most common marketing mistakes you see businesses make?

Unsurprisingly, there was a strong outpouring of opinion on this one.

Marketing Mistakes: Don’t Forget to Pay Attention

A lot of what we strive for  is engagement.

Engagement with the brand on this channel or that. But brands often overlook their own engagement with the customer..

Gene Caballero insists that any comment, whether good or bad, requires a response:

Not joining a conversation when your company has been left a bad review, can really leave a bad taste in future customers’ eyes.

It’s inevitable that your business will at some point get a negative review. We got a negative review from someone that didn’t even use our service but what you have to do is join the conversation as soon as possible.

No matter what is said and done, someone has to respond.

When someone complains and the company does not respond, it looks like they don’t care. That will result in a bad brand image and have a negative effect on sales.

For Karen Wilson, it’s more about listening.

Don’t ignore what audiences are saying about your brand or product.

The biggest marketing mistake she sees?

Dismissing feedback that’s less than flattering. Perception is reality. If your products are perceived a certain way by smart people on the outside, take a good look at why before you fire back arguments designed to prove your own perspective.

BASO Syndrome: There is No Cure

There’s a lot of FOMO in marketing, especially across digital channels.

Your competitor is on Snapchat?

Let’s get on there!

Did you check out [brand or celebrity du jour]’s IG story today?

Why can’t we do that?

Are we too late to get on Peach?

Maris Callahan calls it BASO syndrome:

I constantly see businesses that are trying to juggle so many things that they wind up doing none of them well.

I call it “Bright and Shiny Object Syndrome.” I have it, and to this date there is no cure.

In general, I think businesses—especially marketers—are better off doing fewer things well, and once you’ve really nailed those few things, expanding from there. Now if only I could take my own advice.

Daniel Lobring is on the same page:

I think one of the most common marketing mistakes is quickly jumping into shiny new marketing toys (think SnapChat, Instagram Stories, etc.) without really knowing why and/or having a strategy.

Too often the answer for why is that our competitors are on there, or even just because it exists we should be on there too.

The better answer is to go back to the heart of who you are as a brand and what are you trying to say (and to whom). From there, you can determine what channels of communication make sense. That’s where the investment should go.

Feuza Reis agrees, and adds that before a brand doubles down on a particular social channel, it should make sure its website is up to snuff:

One big mistake we see with many of our new clients is how their website works against them and not for them. They ignore user experience, branding, and calls to action.

You can spend all the money in the world in SEO, PPC but if a customer lands on your website and is unsure on what to do next, they will leave.

Your website needs to be a converting machine, or else your marketing efforts are useless.

One other mistake I see is not knowing where your ideal client hangs out online.

As social media becomes bigger, it is important to choose the right platforms. The platforms where your audience spends time. You don’t need to use all social media platforms, but be smart about which ones you do use.

Marketing Mistakes: Using the Right People

Mirela Setkic points out you need to make sure you have the right people doing the right job:

Many small and medium businesses assume that social media marketing can and should be done by an entry-level employee and without much strategy.

In reality, every business, regardless of size, should create a thorough blueprint for its social media use. They should have a designated person (in-house or third party) who is qualified to execute the goals of the blueprint.

The organization’s social media efforts must be in line with the overall business strategy and marketing efforts.

Spew it and They Will Come

Mike Ritchie has two pet peeves in marketing:

The Spew it and they will come model

Although content marketing does often help you create a brand presence and some credibility in a market, distributing with no effective plan behind it costs you in terms of the opportunity costs. That time and money could be better spent on making compelling offers to a highly focused niche audience you can dominate.

Pursuing the shiny new customer while neglecting their existing customer list

Yes, you need new customers. But the cost of acquiring new customers versus the cost of upselling, cross-selling, or bringing an existing customer back to buy more is significantly less. You’ve already done the hard work so why overlook them?

Just as you’ve set up a system for converting eyeballs to customers, you need to have a similar system to maximize the lifetime value of a customer. Because doing that is like having a personal money machine. Every time you pull the lever, cash drops out into your pocket.

Field of Dreams is a Great Movie

Ashley Stryker almost didn’t make this list thanks to her shameless disregard for one of the best baseball movies of the ‘80s, but we’re a forgiving bunch (and her comment was too spot on to ignore):

I think my biggest pet peeve is people who think that “if you build it, they will come.”

That is, if you make amazing content, people will just magically appear and love you for it. Nononono, any marketing or PR initiative needs to be distributed with just as much fervor as its creation. #FieldOfDreamsMustDie

It’s Not All Bad

Because we had so many rally around marketing mistakes, it’s only fair to shine a light on our successes as well.

We’ve all seen some amazing campaigns or tactics that just really did it for us.

Sometimes they’re simple.

Take Yotpo’s email-based, frictionless user-generated content/review process.

It blew my mind the first time I saw it in action.

And sometimes it takes a large budget.

(I’m a sucker for Super Bowl commercials, even the ones that make it up to Canada.)

But you know what we mean: there’s that email that came at the just the right time.

It helped convert you.

Or that [webinar/facebook ad/insta post] that stopped you in your tracks.

It’s easy to highlight the marketing mistakes that many of us have made.

Hopefully, it’s even easier to point out some of the wins.

The Next Big Question

Next time we’re asking:

What are some of the best marketing campaigns or tactics you’ve seen or used?

You can answer here, in our free Slack community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

About Mike Connell


Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative . Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • #becausecats

  • In my defense–I do love “Field of Dreams” as a lovely inspirational movie. … It’s just not good marketing strategy.

    Also pretty sure my sister and father would both disown me if I hated the movie.

    • Forgiven.

      • Mercy is much appreciated. (Also, I’m now lost down the rabbit hole that is Condescending Corporate Brand Page. How have I lived without this in my life?)

  • The winning question so far.

    You’re right, not learning from a mistake is a wasted opportunity.

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