Big Mistakes Commonly Made In Marketing

My interactions and observations with various business leaders has highlighted some mistakes as themes.

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I get to speak with a variety of business leaders about their marketing and sales activities.

Some of them are seasoned, whilst others are new to running and growing a business.

I get to see the good and the bad of what they’re doing.

I don’t always get to advise, but the interaction and observation highlights some recurring themes that I share in this post.

Some serious mistakes are being made every single day that are costing these hardworking people time and money.

I’ve summarised the key issues to help by highlighting the top mistakes that are being made every day.

Mistake #1. Asking for Digital Marketing help.

The problem here is they’re completely missing out the bigger picture, which is marketing as a whole.

This is very common mistake, and it’s costing.

Digital Marketing is commonly perceived as a new form of marketing. As the way forward. As more measurable than traditional marketing. Therefore better. A replacement for traditional marketing.

I’m not saying they’re wrong to ask about it. But their perception of Digital Marketing is completely wrong.

Digital Marketing is a sub-segment of marketing.  It belongs within an overall marketing strategy.

But this problem is so big and widespread that we have a dedicated article with a full explanation.

Every business is likely to require a digital strategy, but only as part of their overall marketing strategy.

So by going after digital,  their subconscious is cutting out the engine room for growth, which is marketing as a whole (which should include a digital portion).

Mistake #2. Thinking that social media is free, and a form of advertising which will generate demand and sales.

This is slightly less common nowadays, but it’s still too slow to change and it still surprises me how peoples’ expectations of social media is so far wrong.

Social media is all about connecting with your audience. To build your brand.

But before that logic settles in, let me tell you the real truth.

Social media is about people connecting with people. That’s it.

So your business is actually a foreign object and a bit out of place in social media.

But there is a place for businesses on social.

Generally speaking this is about adding value. To add value, you have to produce great content that helps your audience, engage positively, solve, and strengthen the bond between the business and its audience on social channels.

It’s not a channel to hard-sell to your audience, talk about yourself and constantly pitch your great offerings.

Do that and you’ll turn them away – I guarantee.

Mistake #3. Build it and they will come.

This is a big one and it’s a surprisingly common attitude even amongst very experienced business people.

Previously, the marketing environment was noisy. When I say noisy, I’m talking exposure to thousands of marketing messages per day.

Today’s world is many, many times noisier with added distractions of mobile phones push notifications, instant messaging, and instant reactions.

So today, you have to work much harder for your message to cut through, have impact and drive action.

But a common mistake is the belief that customers will find your product or service, be compelled to buy and will jump through hoops to do just that.

Not so. If these attitudes may be lurking in your subconscious, prepare to fail.

Build it, and they will not come. It’ll take a lot more than that.

Mistake #4. Assuming that potential customers will take all the steps you want them to take.

Related to the previous point, but this one focuses purely on the customer journey and customer experience once a potential customer has come to you.

The customer journey is all about what they have to do to get closer to a decision to buy.

The customer experience is all about how they feel about that journey. Is it easy? Is it pleasant? Is it cumbersome? Etc.

The fact is, you have to make the journey and experience as simple as possible or you shouldn’t expect your customers to do what YOU want them to do.

This means removing friction, which pleases the natural human desire for greater simplicity and making the journey pleasurable.

People are lazy and distracted. Why would you expect them to follow the journey unless you make it great?

Mistake #5. Focusing on one type of marketing. When that fails, moving onto another.

There’s no such thing as a silver bullet. At least in marketing.

However, many businesses (and even some experienced marketers) just go straight into tactics. They can’t wait, so they just get started by doing things.

Starting to execute tactics without the pre-planning has the highest propensity to fail. At best, this approach delivers poor results, or slow growth, but worst of all it can kill businesses.

When pain is felt, people’s natural behaviour is to switch to a different tactic, and another, and so on.

They lose time, money and effectiveness. Total waste. It’s painful to watch. But it’s more painful for them to experience.

As a high-level summary, effective marketing requires you to understand the wider situation, your ideal customer, and have clear objectives.

The next layer is to build a strategy to deliver those objectives.

The last layer is to flesh out the strategy as a tactical plan to be executed.

This is the right ordering of events.

p.s. Here’s a free growth strategy checklist for you to self-assess how strategy-led your marketing is. It’s the basic framework used in how we help our clients.

Mistake #6: The belief that with traffic comes positive results.

A common problem particularly with eCommerce businesses, but this also appears in other business types.

The mistake is to assume that visitors (to your site, your store, your events, etc.) will convert into customers.

Not so. Well, it’s not that simple and there are many variables at play.

The experience might be cumbersome. They might think your offer differs from what they previously expected. You may not be trusted. They might not want to pay your price, etc.

Converting (to a sale, or any other growth goal) requires thought, planning, execution, measurement, and optimisation.

Mistake #7: Hiring someone to solve one specific thing and expecting to unlock your business potential without addressing the interrelated problems.

If you hired a person to solve every bit of your business, you’ll hire too many people. It’s not feasible.

One of the most common examples I see to remedy poor sales, is to hire more sales people.

In marketing, and particularly in tech, startups, I see people hiring growth hackers – because the business owner wants growth.

This makes sense in theory, but there are usually other interrelated issues that need to be resolved.

Taking the sales example above, these could be things like a lack of good quality leads coming through to sales, unresolved issues with the product or service that are affecting the reputation of the business, etc.

So by simply hiring someone to push more sales, or hack your growth through marketing, you could end up frustrating them due to the interrelated dependencies, and certainly miss achieving the solution you had in mind in the first place.


Big, fundamental mistakes in marketing are commonplace. Marketing has become more fragmented, so there’s more going on, therefore more to get wrong.

But the fundamentals of marketing have not changed!

What’s changed is a landscape of marketing disciplines, which has got wider, especially with digital, which has given people so many options that it has clouded their thinking and basic decision-making.

Leaders need to rise above the detail, think through their objectives, devise strategy accordingly with a clear view of their ideal customer in mind.

The strategies and tactics that emerge from this approach will help you find your customer, convert them where they are, and ultimately lead to efficient growth for your business.

Here’s that free growth strategy checklist again.

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