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How to Avoid the Ten Biggest Marketing Mistakes Businesses Make

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By Peter Koeppel

Have you noticed a slump in your sales? Are you having trouble establishing your new business in the marketplace? Or maybe you're established, but you just can't seem to get the word out about your new product? If these situations sound familiar, then your marketing may be to blame.
New businesses may not know how to market themselves properly to get the results they want. But marketing challenges are actually quite common among businesses of all sizes. In today's competitive business world, many small and mid-sized companies lose sight of the marketing practices that made them successful in the first place. And even the large, established companies tend to let their good marketing practices slide sometimes.
So what can you do if you suspect your marketing efforts are less than satisfactory? First, understand the ten biggest marketing mistakes businesses make, and then learn how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Not Developing a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a critical part of every successful business. It helps you design your product and service to fill a market niche, identify your target audience, and then see what you need to do to get your target audience to buy your product or service. Also, when creating a marketing plan, you design the objectives and tactics to further develop your marketing efforts in the future.

Mistake #2: Not Planning a Marketing Budget

You need to spend money to publicize, market, and advertise your business to make it successful. As a general rule of thumb, you may spend at least ten percent of your revenue on marketing efforts. Essentially, these costs keep your company going and your products selling. No matter what size your company, you need to have a marketing budget.

Mistake #3: Not Targeting a Specific Target Audience

You need to understand that your market doesn't include everyone. No matter what product you have, not everyone is going to want to buy it. So decide your target demographic and use appropriate media outlets to reach that audience. For example, if you have a diet product, you may target women ages twenty-five to fifty-four, who are ten pounds or more overweight. Then you need to advertise in women's magazines or during women-oriented television and radio programs. Trying to appeal to everyone doesn't work.

Mistake #4: Not Developing a Clear and Consistent Marketing Message

All your marketing materials, advertisements, and promotions need to convey a consistent look and message. You want your target audience to know what you do or sell no matter where they see your name; you want to be recognizable. This helps you achieve more from your marketing budget because the message is reinforced throughout all the media you advertise in.

Mistake #5: Believing Your Product will Sell Itself

Many companies make the mistake of thinking that their product is so great and so different that they don't need to market it at all. However, no one will know how great your product is, or that it even exists, if you don't tell them. Word of mouth and referrals can only take you so far. No matter how great your product, you need to advertise and market to get it sold.

Mistake #6: Not Clearly Defining the Product Benefits

The highly competitive marketplace is constantly changing and offering consumers more and more choices. For example, if you need laundry detergent, you have a whole aisle of different brands to choose from. So how do you base your decision? Something has to get your attention to make you choose one brand over another. And you need to create this differentiation in your product as well.
Defining the unique selling proposition for your product will help your target audience differentiate it from your competitors. Then work this uniqueness into your marketing plan and strategy to reach the specific audience who will buy your product.

Mistake #7: Not Diversifying Your Media Mix

At one time, you could advertise on the three big television networks and reach eighty percent of the population. But now viewers have hundreds of different networks and channels to choose from just on television. Plus consumers can choose from satellite or cable television, print, radio, satellite radio, and the internet. Media today is very fragmented, so you need to reach your audience through more than one outlet.

Mistake #8: Not Understanding the Lifetime Value of a Customer

If you can earn a customer and keep him or her for life, then the value of that customer multiplies. For example, imagine you sell cars. If you have a customer who spends $10,000 a year to drive one of your cars, then over the lifetime of the relationship that customer will have given you $200,000. So what is it worth to earn that customer's business? If you spend ten percent, or $20,000, to get the customer's business, you'll earn a ten to one return on your investment.

Mistake #9: Not Having a Back End Revenue Program
A back end revenue program creates additional streams of income for your business. For example, if you sell someone a cosmetic product on television, a back end revenue would be to sign them up for a continuity program where you send them more of the product on a regular schedule and charge their credit card automatically. This type of program allows you to bring in additional revenue and maintain your customer relationships.

Mistake #10: Not Up-Selling the Customer
Up-selling means taking advantage of the sales opportunity and incremental revenue by adding additional or related products to a customer's purchase. For example, adding fries to an order at a fast food restaurant or adding additional features, such as a sunroof on a car sale, are up-sells.

Avoiding Marketing Mistakes in the Future
Marketing is critical to the success of every business. Unfortunately, many businesses discount the effect it can have, and they forego their marketing efforts for other activities. Or they make one or more of these mistakes, and their marketing efforts become ineffective. Perhaps this is why nine out of ten businesses end in failure.
But your business doesn't have to be one of the nine that doesn't succeed. When you avoid the ten biggest mistakes, you can market your business successfully and increase your bottom line as a result.

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