Off-the-mark bullseyeWho remembers stern doses of discipline when you were younger?  I mean the doses where your mother or father broke your heart and softened your butt all in one stroke, stern word, or even one look and word of disappointment.

I also remember that after those doses of discipline, my mother would follow up with a lecture about why she did it. Then at the end, she had the audacity to include these horrible words, “I do it because I love you.” WTFreak, mom? You do it because you love me. You could love me with an ice cream cone, dang” is what you think.

Yes, it’s true. I was a victim beneficiary of that discipline, stern lectures and “loving” words. And because of those of that fine discipline, I say thank you. Not for the softened butt of course, but for the lessons that guided me into being a well-rounded adult – someone who’s responsible with my money, thoughtful with my goals, and understanding of other’s needs. It’s my mom’s direction that helped propel me to where I am today.

Regina’s Stern Hand of Marketing

Today I would like to introduce you to Regina’s stern hand of marketing. Before I say all of this, I’ll add mom’s fine words, “I [write] this because I love you.” Okay…maybe that’s a huge stretch, but the reality is, I have a passion for marketing. Because of that passion, I want to help you be able to identify, prevent and avoid marketing mistakes that could kill your business.

Yes. You may only be a mom and pop shop, but guess what pretty much every business has an aspect of marketing include in their business model. It may not be a shiny sign or flashy TV spot, but face it baby, even when you’re doing something as simple as talking to your cousin Pam about your business, you have now entered the world of marketing. And frankly, if you’re gonna run a business, you need to be mindful of doing it right, avoiding and preventing marketing mistakes that could kill your business.

So I lift my stern voice, with words threaded with marketing love, and give you 6 marketing mistakes that could kill your business.

1) Your product is wrong. So you created a product, and it’s the best thing since sliced bread. It really may be. I won’t argue with that, but let me say this so you can get it…no one wants it. It doesn’t matter f you were to shout it from the mountain tops or practically give it away at a 90% discount. If you create something that no one wants, then no one is going to buy it. Outside of the hefty sense of accomplishments and “great jobs” you have from the people around you, you’re feeling pretty bummed. – Don’t. Instead use this as a lesson. Before you create any product, be sure – I repeat. Be sure. – you’re developing a product that someone else wants. Otherwise, you’ll simply be wasting a lot of time and energy and committing the first listed marketing mistake.

2) Your store is dirty. Big –  no HUGE –  marketing mistake. I kid you not. I frequent a place that uses coffee cans as trash cans. The firs time I saw this, I wanted to take a picture an post it on Facebook. I didn’t because that’s rude, but the point is…YOU’RE A FOOD ESTABLISHMENT, AND YOU’RE NOT CLEAN. I know. I know. I go there, but I also eat food out of a vending machine.

Although I would be disappointed if this establishment were to go away, the reality is that it has already been under 3 different sets of management since I’ve been frequenting it…and that may have been 2 years. This is a sure sign that something isn’t right. If this establishment was in another location, and attempted to serve a different group of customers, I have a strong hunch they wouldn’t stay in business too long. (Wait…they did move into the shopping mall for a while and didn’t stay for too long. Wonder what that was all about?)

3) Your price is wrong. Maybe you don’t think about price as a part of marketing, but one of the first things you learn in marketing is the “4 Ps of Marketing,”  – price, product, place, and promotion. And if it is price is big enough that every marketer needs to know about it, then it’s essential that your price is right. This doesn’t mean the price that you want to charge. This means the price that your customer is willing to pay…bottom line. Who cares if you think your product is worth $1 million dollars. Is your customer willing to pay it? Does your competitor have almost the same thing, but cheaper? Hmmm…if you can’t justify your costs to a point where your customer cares, you may need to re-evaluate your pricing structure. With the right research, this is definitely a marketing mistake you can overcome.

4) Your target market is wrong. So maybe your price is right, but your market is wrong. This is a marketing mistake I learned the hard way. I had to learn that while my heart was in the right place, my market was way off. The people I was targeting may not have the budget to afford the prices I needed to charge in order to maintain a sustainable business.

When deciding pricing, product and offering, promotions and distribution (including location), you must determine who you are targeting. For example, McDonald’s markets to the majority of America – they have healthy options for the health conscious, you see people of diverse backgrounds in their advertising, they are easily accessible (but mainly on busy streets), they are community-oriented. Frankly, McDonald’s get an A+ on matching their marketing to their target market.

On the other hand, Nike markets to the sports enthusiasts and those who will pay a premium for their brand. Their foundation is in sports.  Their target…athletes and those living vicariously through some sports figure. *Ahem Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant* Nike is also an A+ marketer in my book.

5) Your service sucks. Sorry to say it, but if I walk into anything outside of a big box store and I’m not greeted, that’s a problem…esp if you’re sitting at the service counter on a computer not paying any attention to me.

Customer First. This is the way you have to think. If this isn’t how you’re thinking, you could be committing this marketing mistake. Would you rather lose a customer (or the dollar for those of you who speak in dividends) or do what’s convenient for you at the moment? I understand, customers aren’t always going to be happy, but in this day and age where the cost of switching is low, and information consumption is at your customer’s fingertips, you need to make sure you’re doing what you can to provide the best customer service possible.

6) You were too aggressive. Have you ever gone into a place with an aggressive salesperson. Your goal – casual browsing. Their goal – sell, sell, sell. Dang…I’m glad you greeted me, but for Pete’s sake, back up homey. I’m just browsing. When I get ready to buy, I’ll let you know. It’s good to check back in, but don’t breathe down my throat. You’re a stalker, I’m uncomfortable,  your brand is associated with the salespeople who won’t back up, you;’ve committed a horrible marketing mistake, and ummm yeah, I’m going to avoid them.

Just be casual. Don’t be like a needy/desparate significant other. Look from a distance, look for cues that the person may need help, and once it’s time, jump in.

Go Forward and Succeed

Now that you are aware of these 6 marketing mistakes that could kill your business, you can recognize them from a mile away. Be cognizant of them, and make the changes necessary to succeed. You have a passion, and it deserves your best.

Until next time,

Regina R. Patterson, M.B.A.

Marketing & Web Content Consultant

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