07/25/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Seven Marketing Mistakes You Need to Avoid

These 7 Marketing Mistakes are based on the 7 most common mistakes we see in the course of helping Fortune 500 and Growth companies significantly improve response and revenue.

These are killer mistakes which compromise the success of well-intentioned marketing and sales initiatives.

I hope these tips will help you avoid these mistakes.

Mistake Number 1

Strategies Born in the Arrogance of the Conference Room

Do you really know:

  • How your customers make a purchase decision? (Hint:  Price is rarely #1)
  • What are the real buying triggers?
  • What they respond to as competitively differentiating messages and offers?
  • How to get them to opt-in and self-profile their preferences so you can make targeted offers?

These questions can’t be answered in the isolation of your conference room or even by your sales force.

You need to conduct Voice of Customer Research to ask in-depth questions regarding the issues above.

Use these customer-driven insights to shape and drive your marketing strategy.

Mistake Number 2

Marketing That’s Really “Spray and Pray”

Is your marketing really about: blasting out emails, calls, rep visits . . . and hoping for the best?

As a result of these “Spray and Pray” practices, consumers are rebelling and response rates are dropping. There are 150+ million phone numbers on the national Do Not Call registry.

Adopt Opt-In, preference-based marketing, where you engage people to profile their preferences and interests, in exchange for a meaningful value proposition. The resulting Opt-In database will be uniquely accurate and drive double-digit response rates!

Mistake Number 3

Objectives That Are Not Clearly Defined

In helping clients improve their marketing results, we analyze their previous programs. We frequently find that marketing objectives were not clearly or realistically defined.  Therefore, the likelihood of failure was high from the beginning!

Often, programs were positioned as a customer relationship marketing initiative (CRM), but instead it was really a short-term “sales blitz.”

There’s nothing wrong with the latter, but it’s very different from a true customer relationship marketing program in terms of scope, infrastructure requirements and time until payoff.

Pure sales campaigns are quick hits. Customer relationship marketing efforts require more effort, take longer and result in more sales, with greater likelihood of repeat purchases.

You need to clearly define the marketing objectives and requirements for yourself, your boss and your team. Otherwise, an important marketing success won’t be valued because management was expecting “quick hits”.

Mistake Number 4

Metrics Don’t Support the Objectives

Related to Number 3, we often find that the marketing team’s expectations of results are not shared by management.

Customer relationship marketing initiatives require important additional performance metrics as compared with traditional sales campaigns. They include:

  • Customer lifetime value (LTV)
  • Number of sales
  • Repeat sales
  • Size of average sale
  • Profitability of sales
  • Opt-In and opt-out rates
  • Customer satisfaction.

These results are much higher for true customer relationship marketing programs.

Management must understand this upfront, or your efforts will only be evaluated based on short-term sales.

Mistake Number 5

Accepting Poor Response Rates

When we evaluate a company’s marketing response rates and are shocked at the 1 – 2% response, we often hear, “Well isn’t that the industry average?”

Yes, those are the average figures from obscenely wasteful “Spray and Pray” blasts.

Here are the double-digit response rates you can expect from Voice of Customer-driven, multichannel opt-in marketing programs:

These are actual results reported by the following clients:

Fortune 500 companies:

  • Microsoft Small Business Program:
    • Exceptionally high opt-in rates: 40% - 70%+
    • Click through rates up to 75%
  • Hewlett-Packard: (Mid-Market and Enterprise):
    • Increased response 300% to 1,000%
    • Increased registration rates for web and email offers from 2% to 31%
    • Reduced marketing waste 50%

Small / Medium company results:

  • Palms Trading Co.:
    • Increased annual bottom-line sales 10% year to year
    • 16% increase in new customers
    • 13% increase in on-site sales
    • 75% increase in newsletter driven sales.

Mistake Number 6

Not Spending Enough Time and Money on Current Customers

Once a sale is “closed,” most companies begin the process of losing the customer.

According to Dow Jones Interactive:  Companies lose 50% of customers every five years . . . primarily because relationships do not extend past the initial sale.”

Tips for improving customer retention:

  • Analyze the profiles of your high revenue / high profit potential accounts.
  • Are you providing sufficient value?
  • Are you investing enough in these accounts?
  • Do you really know what they do and how they use your products?
  • Are they being serviced by all your channels?

Mistake Number 7

Poor Post Sales Service

Poor post-sales service kills customer relationships!

Most companies view Customer Service as a cost-center, and therefore cut corners on training, compensation, infrastructure, etc.

Consider the results of our Customer Service Call Center Research:

  • 66% rated their recent Customer Service Call Center experience as negative or neutral
  • Bad Customer Service Call Center experiences negatively affect customers’:
    • Willingness to buy from that company: 86%
    • Perception of that company: 99%
    • Likelihood to recommend the company: 92%

We hope you will at least test these tips. They will improve your results.

Please let me know if you have questions