The 10 Mortal Sins of Marketing

“But enough of me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?” – Ed Koch

Here is a short list of the dumbest things a marketer can do.

1. Assuming that your customers are interested in you, your company, or your products. This — neglecting to understand that all your customers are really interested in is THEMSELVES — is the original sin of marketing. It results in most of the worst kinds of sales letters, sales presentations, magazine ads, etc.

2. Equating cleverness with creativity. Designing ad campaigns that show off the designer’s intelligence, wit, and style — but do little or nothing to sell the product — is one of the most common faults of Madison Avenue.

3. Trying to convert the heathen marketplace. If the buying public doesn’t currently buy your kind of product, don’t think it is going to start just because you think you can show how good it is.

4. Making specious assumptions about capturing market share. (“The market is 30 million. If we can get only 1% of that, we’ll be enormously successful.”)

5. Thinking that the best product will be most appreciated. (“We have a better product than the most popular brand and can sell it for the same price. When word gets out, everyone will buy ours.”)

6. Thinking that you have the best product when you don’t. This mistake is amazingly common.

7. Selling a product that no one else has yet sold. This strategy sometimes works, but the chances are very slim — especially for a beginning business. If no one else is doing it, there is usually a good reason why not.

8. Marketing to people who should need your product instead of people who have a history of buying similar products. The mistaken premise here is “Anyone who could use my product should use it.”

9. Continuing a failed marketing campaign. If it didn’t work the first time — even if you think it’s a great idea — don’t think it will work if you simply try it again with a different twist. When the market tells you your idea is no good, listen to it.

10. Knowing too much. (“I’ve been in the market for 20 years. I’ve seen it all. Nobody can teach me anything.”)

All of these mistakes are connected. They are all sins of the ego. To eliminate them, you can either work on them one at a time or recognize in one blinding moment that your customers are your equals and deserve your respect, your concern, and your best intentions.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]