One way to achieve entrepreneurial success is to not make the following marketing mistakes:

1. Trying to sell everything to everybody- Trying to do everything is a prescription for a marketing disaster. Being the best requires commitment and focus. Pick that one thing and pass on the rest.

2. Cost-based pricing- Most small firms don’t have a good handle on cost accounting and they invariably underestimate their costs. If pricing is cost-based, the end result is often under priced products. Instead, price on perceived value. This is pricing which reflects the potential savings, the highest satisfaction level, or the maximum use that a client will receive from the purchase and the use of the product or service.

3. Inconsistent branding – Your business cards say one thing, your website say something else, and your brochures tell yet another story. Branding is a promise of value which requires consistency. Tell one story only.

4. Over reliance on one big customer- Many small companies become hostage to one large customer. When that customer goes away, your firm is toast. How big is too big? I suggest no bigger than 25% of annual sales. Take care of this important customer, but focus your marketing dollars on finding some other customers. Do it now.

5. Selling product and features- People don’t buy products and features. They buy solutions to their problems. It is not about you. It is all about them.

6. No market research- Many successful entrepreneurs rely on their “gut” and experience to make strategic decisions. That may be a good compass, but take the time to verify your assumptions with market research; sometimes your instincts are wrong.

7. Not giving things time to succeed- Building a brand and selling customers takes time and money. Set conservative goals and make sure you have funds available to promote new products; you might get lucky, but generally success is hard earned.

8. Lousy websites- Dead links, out-of-date content, and old web designs will drive your customers away. Websites need to be refreshed constantly with new rich content and you need to maintain your site’s optimization for the major search engines. This is a requirement of doing business in virtually all industries today.

9. Out of date customer lists- Your current customers are in the accounting system, your holiday card list is in Excel, your prospects are in Outlook and your former customers are in the file cabinet. Your customer list should be treated like a treasure chest. Keep this list meticulously updated in one file and back it up. Let me repeat: back it up.

10. Not updating your marketing plan- Even good marketing plans need to be updated. Things are changing quickly. The promise of internet advertising is finally coming true. The yellow pages are dead. We have entered an era of personalization. One size does not fit all anymore. Review your plan quarterly and update annually.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.
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