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Marketing Concepts
17 Costly Marketing Mistakes
By John P. Hayes, Ph.D.

The sooner you, and all of your employees, realize that your only business is capturing and keeping the right customer, the sooner you'll build a profitable, satisfying business.

  1. Forgetting to capture information about your customers. The sooner you, and all of your employees, realize that your only business is capturing and keeping the right customer, the sooner you'll build a profitable, satisfying business. If you're starting a business, don't start until you have installed a system to build a customer database. If you're already in business and you don't have a customer database, start now!
  2. Failing to profile your customers. If you're satisfied with every and any customer, and you think all customers bring value to your business, you're dead wrong. If you're happy just to hear the phone ring because of your advertisements or marketing programs you could be attracting the wrong customers. Customers are not created equal. A wrong customer can never be right! However, if you don't know the profile of a right customer for your business, you're building a business that's going to provide fewer profits and more misery than you ever anticipated. Profile your customers . . . study them . . . find out which customers are the most profitable and satisfying for your business . . . and go get more of them!
  3. Overlooking the importance of customer contact. Everyone in business appears to be market driven; that is, they want to capture a larger share of the marketplace. Why don't you be different? Why don't you focus on capturing more customer share? Once you capture the right customer, don't let go of that customer. Get as much value from that customer as you possibly can. You can't do that without contacting the customer!
  4. Not calculating the cost of capturing a customer. When you realize that customers are your business you then want to put a price on a customer. You might be surprised to know how much it costs you to capture a customer. However, once you discover the cost, and track it, you'll never again squander an opportunity to keep a customer.
  5. Not calculating the lifetime value of a customer. You must know how much a customer is worth to you . . . not only for one transaction, but for a lifetime of transactions.
  6. Advertising to the wrong market.If you don't know who your customers are, and you don't understand the difference between a right and a wrong customer for your business, how can you possibly advertise to the right market?
  7. Advertising price over value. Businesses that advertise low price get customers who pay low price. Is that what you want for your business? As soon as your competitor advertises a lower price, what do you think your customers will do? Once you understand how much it costs you to capture a customer, you understand that you cannot afford to lose customers. But any business that advertises price over value is setting itself up to lose its customers as soon as another business offers a lower price. If you want customers who are willing to pay for value, then advertise value!
  8. Advertising percentage off over dollars off. When you advertise price (not necessarily low price), it's a mistake to advertise a percentage discount because customers and prospects frequently don't know the original price. Consequently, it's too difficult for them to figure out if they're getting a good deal. Always advertise in dollars. Instead of "15% off our regular price," state the offer as follows: $109 . . . You Save $49 Off Our Regular Price.
  9. Not pointing out your unique benefits. Have you created a unique selling proposition to describe your business? If not, then how are you different than your competitors? Maybe you know how you're different, but how would your customers and prospects know the difference? You've got to tell them, and the best way to do so is by developing a unique selling proposition and then using it with all of your marketing and advertising programs.
  10. Using the same method of advertising over and over. To build a business you must rely on advertising, public relations, networking, and sales. To get specific, you might need to use direct mail, publicity, door hangers, yellow pages, newspapers, radio, television, and seminars. Each opportunity works. However, these opportunities are most effective when they are all part of your marketing mix. Don't rely on just one method of advertising.
  11. Promoting features instead of benefits. Why do you buy products and services? You buy certain products and services because you need them, of course. But why do you buy Product A over Product B? And why do you patronize Business X over Business Y? You know why. Because you're emotionally involved in the outcome of your decision. You buy the benefits of Product A and the benefits of Business X. You may not even care that Product B is cheaper than Product A. You buy Product A because someone has convinced you that Product A will give you the emotional satisfaction that you desire from the product. The message? Promote benefits over features.
  12. Waiting until it's too late to market your business. Why is it that the first thing a business owner will cut is the marketing budget? Who ever instituted that habit among business owners? A sign company uses this slogan: "Business with no sign is a sign of no business." Take away your sign (your advertising, promotion, networking and selling) and you take away your business. Marketing isn't something you do when you can afford it. Marketing is something you do daily to ensure the ongoing success of your business.
  13. Assuming your customers understand what you sell. Doesn't matter what business you're in; plumbing, heating, carpet cleaning, remodeling, accounting, or selling furniture! Unless your prospect or customer is in your line of work, how could they know what you do and what you sell? If they do know it, chances are they're not going to contact you anyway! They contact you because they need your services and products. However, there's no better customer than an educated customer! Teach your customers about what you do and they'll become more loyal to your business.
  14. Assuming your customers know your product line. Just because they come into your store every day, doesn't mean your customers know everything you sell. Just because they call you for one service, doesn't mean they know all the services you offer. Educate your customers about your product line!
  15. Failing to ask for referrals. Who better to promote your business than a satisfied customer? Who's a prospect going to believe first -- you? Or a satisfied customer? It's so much less expensive to rely on your customers to build your business . . . and yet, most businesses fail to ask their customers for referrals. Shouldn't you be able to get dozens of customer referrals weekly or monthly?
  16. Doing what you think is best for the customer. Until you ask your customers what they want and need, and what they will buy, and then listen to them, you don't really know what's best for your customers. Make it a point to poll or survey your customers by phone, mail, or in person. Organize a series of Customer Focus Groups. Find out what your customers really want from your business . . . then give it to them.
  17. Assuming that your employees know what you know about customers. Have you ever sat down with your employees and explained to them the profile of your ideal customer? Have you explained the lifetime value of a customer to your employees? Do your employees understand that you're in the business of capturing and keeping customers? If you want your employees to help you build a more successful business, you've got to educate them.


This Free Report is not intended as business advice. Consult with appropriate advisors prior to franchising a business. For information about further assistance from Dr. Hayes, call 972-985-8044.

John Hayes is a prolific writer, popular speaker, seminar leader and consultant to businesses in the United States and internationally. He is an advisor to small business owners, independent distributors, franchisees and franchisors.

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