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The 3 marketing mistakes we make, all the time

March 19, 2014 11:39 IST

The 3 marketing mistakes we make, all the time

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Unmana Datta, Courtesy Yourstory.com

Do we assume that we know our customers too well? Or have we lost focus? Why are we not able to sell an idea asks Unmana Datta.

I've been a marketer for over seven years and an entrepreneur for less than one.

I've also talked to many small-business owners and marketers, especially in the last few months.

It's humbling to see that most of us face the same challenges and make the same mistakes.

Here are three things I've seen often others fumble with and have fumbled with myself (repeatedly).

Mistake 1. Not thinking from the customers' perspective

This one is marketing 101: You put yourself in your customers' shoes.

Easy to say, much more difficult to do.

Here are some ways we get this wrong:

1. Lead with product features or processes 'we' think are cool, when all the customer cares about is how the product benefits him/her.

2. Use industry jargon that obfuscates our meaning and confuses the customer.

3. Talk about 'us', 'our business', 'our cool products', 'our reputation', instead of about the customer and his/her problems.

(Quick check: How many times do you say "we" or your company name on your website home page, and how many times do you say "you"?)

4. Don't care to explain the sign-up process (for example), because it looks so obvious (but does it, to your customers?)

How do we avoid making this mistake?

By questioning our biases, by talking to customers, and by looking at the data from the customer's perspective.

(For instance, at what point are visitors dropping off your website?)

The author is co-founder of Markitty, a tool that recommends actions to improve your online marketing. You can reach her on @Unmana on Twitter.

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Image: Most of us make the mistake of assuming our customers' needs and demands.
Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

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Mistake 2. Ignoring or misinterpreting the data

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If you're an online store only shipping in India, anyone visiting your website outside India doesn't count (unless they're looking for a gift for friends or family in India).

If you are a web design agency, visitors who landed on your website searching for "free wordpress themes" don't count (unless you are, in fact, giving away free WordPress themes as a marketing tactic).

Not just website data; it's easy to misinterpret or give undue importance to customer feedback as well.

Things to consider when you get feedback from a customer:

  • Does this customer fit the profile you're targeting?
  • Are other customers likely to agree with the feedback?
  • And of course: Is the customer paying for your product?

Customers who don't pay for software, or who want big discount codes on a $9 per month plan, are the wrong ones to take feedback from.

As a rule of thumb, feedback from non-paying users tends to focus on additions to the product.

Feedback from paying customers focuses on improvements to the product. 

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Image: It's important to take feedback and look at data from an objective point of view.
Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
Tags: India

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Mistake 3. Not focusing enough

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This is the one I struggle with most -- focusing on activities that further my marketing objectives.

What is your biggest objective right now? Getting customers, up-selling to existing customers, retaining customers (or if you're new or looking to expand, increasing visibility)?

If you let yourself be distracted into activities that don't further your core objectives, don't be surprised when you don't meet your objectives.

I'm not saying that your marketing activities should all be based on short-term goals.

It's a good idea to have an active presence on social media even if it's not your most profitable channel.

But if you're targeting mid-sized businesses and your biggest objective right now is lead generation, don't fool yourself into thinking that presenting at that start-up event is a productive marketing activity.

Start-ups are always short of time.

Are you working on the most important thing you could be doing?

And tell us: What are the biggest mistakes you've made as an entrepreneur?

What mistakes have you seen other start-ups make?


Image: Prioritise your objectives and goals so that you can concentrate better and achieve them.
Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
Tags: 1

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