What Are Some Marketing Mistakes That Companies Make?

July 20th, 2010 by Rob Berman Leave a reply »

There was a rich discussion recently among members of the Marketing Executives Group on Linked In.  The topic of debate was Top Marketing Mistakes.

Each company should periodically step back and take a look at their marketing activities.  The following list can be utilized as a checklist for activities that should be stopped.  Let’s see how many of these mistakes you have avoided.  In no particular order are 40 mistakes.

  1. Not having a game plan.
  2. Not having an organized system in place.
  3. Not having a refined market.
  4. Not having a refined marketing message.
  5. Being passive, not proactive in your marketing.
  6. Believing the media hype that “times are tough” and that you should cut back.
  7. Lack of customer insights.
  8. Lack of product differentiation, only me too thinking.
  9. Lack of TIM:  Targeting, Integrating, Measuring of activities.

10.  Lack of handling the budget effectively (no cost control, no RFQs, product runovers, no plan versus actual).

11.  Not looking outside the building to see what competitors have.

12.  Not spending the time to understand your customers and what they need.

13.  Not thinking big enough.

14.  Not being human.

15.  Not using common sense.

16.  Not creating the right positioning and value propositions based on customer needs and differentiators.

17.  Not linking all marketing actions and efforts through the same message and objectives.

18.  Forgetting to focus on quality branding.

19.  Not conducting intelligent and strategic marketing prior to any tactical and operational marketing.

20.  Failing to evaluate and redirect efforts/resources when it makes sense.

21.  Getting caught in a rut, not looking for new opportunities to creatively get out your message.

22.  Being enslaved by our own fascination of jargon and how jargon or certain fads will help solve the next marketing riddle.

23.  Not identifying the most profitable market.

24.  Not fully understanding the tangible and intangible needs of your target markets.

25.  Lack of relevant differentiation strategy from either a physical product standpoint or emotional benefit.

26.  Weak messaging that does not effectively convey product differentiation.

27.  Not knowing the business you are marketing.

28.  Not understanding the right metrics.  ROI is important, but it is not all about ROI.

29.  Overpromising what marketing can do.  In most businesses, personal relationships will be required to close the sale.

30.  Re-inventing the wheel instead of using proven methods, plans and initiatives.

31.  Copying another company that runs successful marketing campaigns.

32.  Trying to out do a competitor, but without proper planning.

33.  Applying scattergun approach.

34.  Not measuring results.

35.  Company functions are in silos that do not talk.  Therefore, the message is muddled.

36.  Not having a consistent system in place.

37.  Failing to integrate marketing with sales efforts.

38.  Failing to target repeat business.

39.  Not minding the 3A’s, Availability, Affordability and Acceptability.

40.  Not building the brand image.

The Takeaway

We all strive to improve our marketing programs each year. Critically examine each of the techniques to ensure the foundation is solid.

Those are the items in the list.  What do you think?  Please comment below.

  1. How often do you examine your marketing programs’ efficiency?
  2. What else can you add to the list?
  3. How do you validate your marketing approach(es)?
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  1. James Martin says:

    You have put up a nice list. From this list, the mistakes I am guilty of the most are numbers #17 and #33. I think they are both related to some extent. If I improve in number 17, then automatically I should find that I am not indulging in scattergun approach as before.

    What is your advice for me to improve? I would love to hear your suggestions.

  2. Susan Oakes says:


    Over my career I made a number of these mistakes. The one that makes a big difference is lack of customer insight. It is easy to assume we know all about them and that they never change their attitudes and behaviour.

    Good post Rob

    • Rob Berman says:


      Insight is key. As one of the first marketers that I ever worked for said, “Will the dog eat it?” The answer is to talk to customers and potential customers and find out.


  3. Agree that you have to re-evaluate your marketing activities on a continous basis to improve results.

    Bit if a company makes a lot of the mistakes on your list, they may need to have a look at changing the person doing their marketing as well.

  4. Hi, Rob! This is quite a list. I am looking at this topic from the hat of a small business owner (because, well, that’s what I am).

    I wonder if the larger companies should also take that approach sometimes.

    Follow up is key, for instance. Most people fail to follow up and lose clients. I’m sure it is 100 fold with the larger companies. If someone is interested you should be all over them until they cry uncle!

    Also, rewarding return business is important. Even if is it just a “Thank you for coming back.”

    Customer service is usually very lacking with big companies. They should pay their people more, train them well and monitor their calls. How many people do they lose because some $10 an hour person mishandles a client? I know I’ve boycotted companies because I’m so irritated.

    There are companies that do well with customer service. Gymboree comes to mind. They are always very polite, knowledgeable and eager to rectify any error. Toys R Us is an example of a company that doesn’t. Will I shop with them after they mishandled me so badly? No way! And I have three children. (Yes, I hold a grudge)

    These may seem outside the marketing box, but really they aren’t. Big companies spend billions promoting each year and then lose customers left and right. It seems silly to me.

    • Rob Berman says:


      I have the same feeling about some companies that you do. I have even tweeted to the Chief Marketing Officer at one company about the horrible service. He wrote back, had someone contact me and offered me a free gift certificate. All good stuff except I needed follow up with him after I sent him my e-mail address at his request. He gets it but did not execute as well as I might have liked.


      • Isn’t it funny that they want new clients, but are willing to trash their existing ones? If they put 10% of those resources into preserving their current ones, they’d do so well.

  5. I think if you have a solid game plan with measurable goals you can prevent most of the items on the list. I write a yearly plan with quarterly goals. at the beginning of each month I write monthly benchmarks to move me toward my yearly goal. I often find that my vision changes as I look at my data every month. If you monitor your goals you will often see that your initial projections may not be big enough or you may see that you should change your focus.

  6. Stacey N. says:

    This is a huge list! I have to admit, I’m sure I’m guilty of at least a few of these! 🙂 I think it’s helpful to see the list so you can be more aware of your actions and come up with a better game plan. I like the chunk method that Jeannette mentioned. It may be helpful to group this list into categories.

  7. This list is enough to depress anyone. I believe in the “chunk” method. Take one chunk at a time that needs fixing. There is no perfect marketing program so it could be easy to become overwhelmed when things aren’t going according to plan. Try to fix the big things and don’t sweat the small stuff.

    • Rob Berman says:


      The goal is not to depress. If someone had all these challenges I doubt they would be in business. The key is to stop and smell the roses every so often. Challenge your current marketing program assumptions and then keep moving forward.


  8. What a wonderful list of pitiful mistakes. Measuring marketing results is something I do regularly – sometime every 90 days with new approaches. Most times once a year. And I agree it’s not just measuring ROI but there are many things including – connections made – that can be measured.

    Thanks for this valuable list.

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