Insight Marketing Blog

7 Classic Marketing Blunders that Cause Companies to Collapse

(or how to commit marketing  suicide in 7 easy steps)


Avoid the hangman by not making these 7 classic marketing blunders

“He was adamant in his opinion that advertising didn’t work, up until the day he ran a ‘Going Out Of Business’ ad!”

As the quote suggests, many of the marketing blunders that crash a business are ‘pilot error.’ In other words – self-inflicted by those running the business. During my 30+ years in marketing, working for all types of businesses, large and small, I’ve witnessed first-hand these seven, classic suicidal marketing blunders that owners, principals and senior management seem to prefer.

1. Not Having a Realistic Marketing Budget (or any budget at all)

“This is like trying to fly across the Atlantic with a 1/2 tank of fuel. Sure, you’ll make progress, but you won’t reach your destination!”

This is the #1 business killer. You must, must have a marketing budget that is large enough to promote your business effectively. Recently, I was retained by a new client, who just launched a carting company – a very competitive industry. He invested tens of thousands of dollars in trucks, dumpsters and equipment. And, how much did he allocate to marketing? “Zero!!!.” After all the start-up expenses, he had little money left to promote his business. Since I couldn’t help his terminally ill condition, I resigned the account. Soon, I suspect, his competitors will be able to buy slightly used dumpsters at a steep discount.

2. Not Making Marketing a Priority for Your Business

“If marketing is the engine that drives your business, shouldn’t you know how to turn the key?”

Many businesses struggle to stay alive because of ineffectively marketing – this stems from a single mindset – the people running the business don’t value marketing:

  • They don’t value marketing because they don’t understand its importance.
  • They don’t understand its importance because they don’t bother to study and gain knowledge about it.
  • And, they don’t gain knowledge because they don’t value it.

And so the vicious circle goes on and so on.

I tell my clients: “If you want to be successful in business, make marketing the first thing you do each day.” If you don’t, you’ll be consumed by the daily, “thick-of-thin-things” in running a business: answering phone calls, attending meetings, putting out fires, etc. and marketing will be the task you never get to.

3. Delegating Marketing to Inexperienced or Unqualified Staff

“Meet Suzie, our new Marketing Director, she just graduated with a Masters Degree in Social Media from Gotham Community College.”

This really is an extension of the second marketing suicide method: Not Making Marketing a Business Priority. Because they don’t understand or value its importance, many  principals and managers will delegate their marketing to an administrative assistant, junior employee, or someone fresh out of college, thinking it’s going to save a few bucks. It may in the short term, but your marketing efforts will continually fall short, and so will your bottom line.

4. Failing to Create a Long-Term Marketing Plan – Then Sticking to It

As Benjamin Franklin once said: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

His advice is especially true in marketing, and not following it is another effective business killer. Successful marketing is not a one-off effort, done haphazardly or sporadically – it is a sustained, long-term endeavor. If you want your business to live long and healthy – develop a strategic marketing plan, commit to it, refer back to it and refine it at least once a year.

5. Not Developing a Brand Strategy, Competitive Positioning and U.S.P

“I don’t know your company – I don’t know its products or services – I don’t know its record or reputation – I don’t know what it stands for…  Now – what is it you wanted to sell me?”

Following closely on the heels of not committing to a long-term marketing plan is not developing a brand strategy, competitive positioning or U.S.P. (Unique Selling Proposition).

  • Brand Strategy: this is more than a logo or slogan – it a thoughtful process of ensuring your core values and principles are reflected in your business image and marketing.
  • Competitive Positioning: understanding what makes your business unique and sets it apart from the competition is key to winning in the marketplace.
  • U.S.P: why should a customer do business with you, above any and all other options, including doing nothing, or whatever he/she is doing right now? Answer this question and your business will live a long and healthy life.

These three interrelated concepts form the legs of a successful marketing program. One, without the others, will cause everything else to collapse.

6. Trying To Be All Things To All People

“Trying to sell everything to everyone will only get you no sale to no one.”

Not recognizing who are your best customers and focus your marketing on them is a frequent mistake made by businesses – and an understandable one. No one wants to think they’re leaving money on the table. However, by narrowing your marketing to those customers who are most inclined to buy from you, your marketing will be more effective and cost efficient, thus more profitable.

7. Not Willing to Take Creative Risks

“You know you’ve got a winning idea, when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up!”

Most businesses are very risk adverse. This aversion to taking chances unfortunately leads to playing it safe in their marketing. They’ll produce ads that look the same and say the same as their competitors, and in doing so miss the opportunity to stand out. Many of the most memorable advertising campaigns, like those from Apple, Nike and Volkswagen took courage to buck the normal rules or advertising.

Let’s Review: So now that we’ve identified the top marketing suicide methods, it’s time to take the gun away from your head (figuratively speaking) and avoid these classic blunders in your own marketing program. Doing so will give your company a boost of vitality, ensuring it will “live long and prosper.”

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Declaration of Independence – July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The Spirit of July 4th

The Spirit of July 4th

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

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Google: Mobile Is the Future, and the Future is Now

Soon businesses without a mobile-optimized website will start feeling the squeeze on Google.

Google Mobile RankingGoogle wants what its users want: sites that are mobile-ready.

The search giant announced that as of April 21, 2015 the mobile-friendliness of your website is now a significant ranking factor. This should come as no surprise since mobile traffic outpaced desktop traffic last year, and Google’s goal has always been to provide the best search experience for its users.

Google had already begun moving in this direction. In 2014 it introduced mobile-friendly labels in search results to identify websites that work well on mobile devices – or, conversely, to alert users to sites that might make mobile browsing difficult. It was up to users to decide whether or not it was worth the click.

With the new algorithm, Google makes that decision for you. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, Google is less likely to display it when mobile users search for your products or services. Even if your site is potentially more relevant than your competitors’.

Test Your Website and Optimize

Not sure where your site stands? Here are some tools that can help you assess its current mobile-readiness:

  • First, analyze your site using Google’s free mobile test.
  • Even if your site gets a positive score, some internal pages on your site might not be optimized for an ideal mobile experience. For example, you may need to remove or update content that isn’t supported by mobile platforms, like Adobe’s Flash animation. To dig deeper, use the mobile usability report in Google’s Webmaster Tools.
  • Finally, mobile pages need to load fast. Check load times for key pages where you’ll be driving traffic with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Using Responsive Design

If your website doesn’t fare well after running the gauntlet above, it wasn’t designed with mobile in mind. And there’s really only one option: to implement responsive design, which is Google’s preferred approach.

Responsive design automatically resizes the content on your site to fit the user’s screen. No matter how they view it, or on what device, they’ll always get an optimal user experience.

For many businesses, the upgrade to a responsive website will mean an investment they hadn’t planned for. But not taking the plunge now could mean a significantly higher cost in lost traffic and business over the long-term.

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