6 Mistakes Marketers Are Making

In talking with clients and potential clients, Dick and I see  companies that are making “mistakes.”  These are common regardless of size, maturity level, or industry.  The most frequent that we see are: (not in any order)

  • Not cultivating the installed base.   Too many companies remain in the “kiss and sell” era.  They forget that their customers are a valuable resource. Key opportunities come from:
    • Up selling to the newest and latest release.
    • Mining the installed customer base for case studies, testimonials and referrals.
    • Establishing relations with new hires in the customer base, who may become decision makers.
    • Using social media (like LinkedIn) to see where ex-employees have landed and following up with them.
  • Using the wrong mix of new and old tools.  Some B2B companies are reluctant to adopt social media tools.  Others have gone too far in that direction.  The key is to understand which of the new tools best suits reaching and interacting with your customers and then implementing it.  We advise:
    • Poll your customers to see what resonates with them.  (The assumption here is that future customers will mirror existing customers.)
    • Measure the effectiveness of your current tools, i.e., which tool generates the greatest number of leads, which one reaches your customers, which ones don’t work.  Cut back on the ones that don’t work, increase the investment in those that do.
    • If your customer base is migrating toward some of the new tools, go with them, don’t fight it.
  • Not training everyone in the company on the corporate message.  Today almost everyone is using some form of social media.  Inevitably they will tweet, blog or comment about where they work, the products/service, the management, etc.  It is important that everyone be on the same page.  We advise:
    • Make sure that there is a written policy about the use of social media.  It shouldn’t be long or complicated, but should outline the “dos & don’ts” of employee use.  This should be read and signed by each employee annually.
    • Train the customer service personnel, who are often a primary contact point with customers, about the corporate message.
    • Train those involved with Public and Analyst relations on the same message.
    • Train all “C” level executives on the message – No one is exempt.
    • Implement listening of social media for comments about your company, and have a documented, well understood, and tested reaction plan in the event of a crisis.  Remember, you won’t have much time to think how to react, and you must react quickly.  How the NFL is handling the screw-up of sold, but no seats available, Super Bowl tickets is an example.
  • Rushing to introduce a product before it is ready.  While Google pioneered the concept of introducing “Beta” versions, on the whole these were well tested, functional products.  Those that have been pulled (Buzz et al) have been the result of market demand, not technical limitations.  We see some companies that are trying to beat their competition by releasing products with limited features or incomplete testing.  In most cases these products fail.  We advise:
    • Unless you are the size of Goggle, forget about the “Beta” concept.  Develop, test and release the product in its normal course.  Don’t force an incomplete product to market early.
    • When launching a product, make sure that the whole system, i.e., sales, marketing, customer service, finance, etc. is ready for the launch.  Having a new customer call customer service and hearing that they don’t know about a product (or problem) is a no-no.
    • Don’t anticipate a hockey stick revenue increase.  99% of products grow slowly.  Very few things rocket up.  Setting unreachable expectations, even when you have great market research results, is a dangerous path.
    • If you choose to go the “Freemium” route, make sure that you fully tested the appeal of the Premium product, and can extrapolate from the “Freemiums” that you ship to a profitable position.  Additional, if this is offer is part of a product line, make sure you fully understand its impact on the whole product line, not just the Premium offer.
  • Not resolving the definition of a qualified lead with Sales.  Both Marketing and Sales are under pressure to produce.  It is too easy for the functions to get into a finger pointing contest about who and what. (Ever watch brothers or sisters fight?)  The point is that an agreed upon definition isn’t that hard, what is hard is to stick to it over the course of a year when revenue goals aren’t being met.  Note that the definition of a qualified lead is seldom an issue when sales are growing month over month.  We advise:
    • Establish an agreed upon definition, and mutually present this to the CEO/COO.
    • Establish goals for marketing to provide qualified leads.
    • Establish procedures and feedback mechanisms on how Sales is going to handle the leads, including lost sales reports.
    • Set a 6 month milestone meeting where each function reports on how they met their goals and what needs to be done to improve the process.
  • Waiting too long to make a change.  Of all the mistakes that we see, this is perhaps the most common and most troublesome. It expresses itself as Marketing management being wedded to a philosophy or approach that is detrimental, if not fatal to the company.  This could be a failure to push for a new product to replace the “cash cow,” the continuation of a campaign that is old and getting decreasing responses, or not reacting as the product and market matures by changing the distribution model mix (indirect vs. direct for example), etc.  We advise:
    • As CMO, if you haven’t made a significant change in the past 24 months, (re-doing the website doesn’t count) do so, or your successor will have that privilege.
    • Choose only one thing to change at a time, so choose wisely.

What problems have we missed?

Comment below or send me a note at Contact US.

2/9/2011  –  RHM

3 comments to 6 Mistakes Marketers Are Making

  • Kathy Vorse


    Terrific points. I never thought about the “social media” policy, but you are right, everyone in the company needs to be on the same page. Same thing with the agreed upon definition of a qualified lead. We are embarking on a new process/model for handling leads. I’ll use the point you made about the definition of qualified as a starting point and move on to the process from there.

    Thank you as always for really good “food for thought” tips.

    I hope all is well.



  • Robert Mannal


    Remember that a corollary to having a social media policy is implementing the tools to listen for activity (Google Alerts etc.). Without the tools in place the policy may be ignored.

  • Bob,
    Good points.
    There are so many ways we can screw up that it’s difficult to know where to start. 🙂
    But perhaps, lack of a strategic vision. Marketing has to remember that part of its role is to lift its head out of the weeds and plan out a strategic map for the organization. Not just follow a map, but draw it first.

    Just a thought.
    Tim Redpath


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>