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9 Worst Marketing Mistakes You Can Make

Mistakes are a scary and unavoidable part of life. It’s how we learn and how we grow. As the old adage goes, you get ‘knocked down 6 times, and stand up 7’...or something like that.

But while personal mistakes can usually be swept under the rug or have repercussions that dull with time, big marketing mistakes are perfect kindling to start a PR firestorm. Biggest content marketing mistakes are generally posted up for the world to see (and laugh at) through social media, email marketing and traditional media. Although just as often they are quietly mourned by marketing teams who “can’t believe we missed that.” Novice and senior marketers alike have to stay cognizant of mistakes that past brands have made, so we can avoid following in their poorly guided footsteps.

This is an article for the doers of the marketing world with actionable avoidances that can save huge headaches down the line. While there are a significant number of funny marketing blunders out in the world, this is more a guide to keeping your marketing steered straight. Although, we do love a businesses marketing failure.



So What Are the Top 9 Worst Marketing Mistakes?

1. Quit Marketing When the Deal Closes

The audience and your customers are your biggest fans. They have purchased your product and are point-blank the most valuable asset you have. They are your advocates, your foundation, and your bottom line. Allow them to advocate for you and keep the conversation going through influencer marketing!

This conversation goes forth even after the deal closes. Customers are open to dialogue on your product, and value being listened to. If something isn’t working, they will tell you. This is miles better than finding out what’s not working on your own, and it’s a free resource that keeps on providing.

And customers are more likely to become repeat business than you might think. According to,  

“The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent. The probability of selling to a new prospect is somewhere in the 5 to 20 percent range. Acquiring a new customer costs six to seven times what you'll spend to retain an existing one.”

Retention marketing is a valuable endeavor that shouldn’t be missed in the marketing plan.

2. Not Doing Your Research

There is a lot to internalize when it comes to marketing awareness. There are some hilariously funny fails on the Internet of companies that really (really, really) dropped the ball on doing the correct research for their target audience. Some have bounced back from the failstorm brilliantly while others leave something to be desired by their (millions) of offended fans. If you need a good laugh, here’s a link to marketing mistakes examples of the 8 of the most legendary marketing mistakes, ever.

The moral of the story is, know your target audience. Be culturally sensitive, don’t mess with a good thing, and always cover your bases.

3. Ignoring Data to Validate Your Ego

Everyone in marketing has an ego. We love to believe that our latest and greatest idea is going to be the next ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’ marketing campaign. But, when we face the facts, the majority of creative ideas don’t see the light of day. And that’s okay.

Decisions should be based on data that has been collected around any and all data points available, and these infallible nuggets of information should trump ego at every opportunity. Those who choose to ignore the data are in for a world of misinformed decisions down the road.

>>>SUGGESTED READ: IoT Blog Link <<<

4. Utilizing Data Incorrectly

Speaking of data, it can be a tricky beast to tame. Possibilities of data corruption can go awry, with problems such as outdated or misrepresented information. As more and more data becomes available, it will become even more critical to be able to sift and extrapolate, so these common mistakes will not be a big one.

Common marketing mistake examples marketers fall into when dealing with data are

  • Measuring the wrong KPIs
  • Not knowing WHAT to measure
  • Not collecting the RIGHT data

Or, most egregiously,

  • Not collecting data at all

These pitfalls set marketing teams up for a slow and treacherous path to nowhere, and it is imperative to be collecting the right data for the correct purpose.

5. Don’t Wait to Start Marketing

Often, a new brands or startups will feel as though waiting to market a product is the best way to go about a fledgling launch. However, this is not the case. It takes generated buzz and content to successfully launch a brand, and this includes preemptive buzz that should be created well before the actual date of unveiling.

Awareness is key. Potential customers need to be fascinated with the product before the purchase, and your marketing efforts needs to be a major focus before a new development, not after. Hiring a marketing team beforehand can get the PR you need before the big day.

>>>SUGGESTED READ: Agency Relationships: It Takes Two to Tango<<<

6. Misaligning Marketing and Sales

Traditionally in the past, siloed sales and marketing departments went at it like cats and dogs. Sales blamed marketing people for lack of qualified leads, and in return, marketing has chastised sales for mucking up the valid possibility of closes.

With the shift to more integrated teams, this bicker has been mitigated successfully by many companies (mostly).

The big mistake is not controlling this integration between sales and marketing - it can quickly turn sour and needs nurturing to thrive.

>>>SUGGESTED READ: 5 Ways to Support Your Sales Team with Marketing Content<<<

7. Not Staying a Constant Student

Marketing is constantly evolving. As the world changes, so does the advertising space, and it behooves everyone in the industry to stay up-to-date when it comes to trends. Marketing professionals should be dedicating time each week simply reading up on the latest developments in the digital marketing space.

Up-to-date doesn’t mean risky. There is a difference between throwing it all in for a new tactic and carefully plotting the next course move in the marketing strategy. Which leads us to the next biggest mistakes.

>>>SUGGESTED READ: 8 Marketing Trends for the Rest of 2018<<<

8. Ignoring the Basics

It’s easy to get carried away with cutting edge media, especially when you’re dedicated to honing your craft. But at the end of the day, basics are timeless for a reason. Marketers often get caught up in the glitz and glam of flashy new trends, but the mundane and repetitive strategy is what keeps the foundation of the marketing process running smoothly.

Simple things like fine tuning your buyer personas frequently, doing a post-mortem evaluation on a mediocre campaign, or checking in on the pulse of overall objectives, is essential to keep the basics in the background while forging ahead.

9. Overthinking It All

At the end of it all, marketing should be fun. The creative people and the data collectors collide in harmony to produce campaigns that resonate for generations, showing on many levels just what it means to be human. Don’t overthink what feels right.

Final Thoughts

To succeed in marketing, whether it be as a seasoned marketing vet or new business owners testing the DIY approach (if this is you, you’re awesome!), it takes grit to avoid marketing fails constantly. But the good news is that by staying consistent, brushing up, and doing your due diligence, you’ll stay far off the radar for the next ‘Biggest Fails’ blog. And that is a major win in our book.  

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About the Author: Jennifer Heusner

Jennifer Heusner

Jennifer is a graduate of Eastern Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology and dual minors in Business Administration and Linguistics. Her previous exploits include full-stack agency operations, paid social advertising, brand development & design, large-scale event promotion, content strategy, and project management.