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7 Marketing Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs

Written by: Michael Kittinger, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Building a business can be difficult. Especially with the rapidly changing landscape in terms of technology, platforms, and software. But the good news is that the fundamentals of effective business and marketing strategies haven't changed much in a hundred years or more.

A photo of worried businessman working in the office.

You see, despite the fact that the world keeps changing faster than ever, human nature, psychology, and the key principles of persuasion remain the same. So how can this bit of knowledge impact you and your business?

Simple ‒ if you can master a few basic principles and avoid these 7 marketing mistakes, you’ll be able to improve your business's bottom line, no matter what new platforms, software, or apps might come along. And if you want to go farther and faster, be sure to find a mentor to guide you along the journey.

The ideas below form the foundation of every successful business. As such, I would highly recommend you read through this article at least two or three times.

Mistake No.1 You haven’t clearly defined your target market

One of the most common mistakes almost every entrepreneur and parentpreneur make (especially at the beginning) is going too broad when defining their target market. Everything starts, ends, and revolves around your ideal client ‒ your marketing, messaging, offers, conversion system, delivery mechanism… everything.

If you don't know who your target market is, it's very difficult to develop the right marketing strategy. One that will effortlessly reach, resonate and convert them. If you haven’t clearly defined who that ideal client and target market is, you’re throwing darts in the dark, blindfolded, while spinning in circles… just hoping to hit the target.

By focusing on serving one specific audience and solving one specific problem, you can create messaging that’s more enticing, a product or service that’s more desirable, and a delivery that’s exactly what your client wants. You want to be so in tune with your ideal audience that you’re able to enter the conversation already going on inside their minds. If your audience is broad or generic, you’ll never reach this level of understanding.

Your clients want a service that feels like it was custom-made for them, which you can never do if you try to be everything to everybody. You should narrow your focus until you’ve honed in so closely on their interests that they might wonder if you’re reading their mind.

To paraphrase Jay Abraham, if you can explain the problem that your ideal client is facing better than they can, they’ll automatically assume you have the solution.

You can’t be everything to everyone and the sooner you realize that, the better. Really take the time to sit down and figure out who your best customers are, and commit to marketing and serving just them. Clearly defining your target marketing and knowing exactly who your ideal client is will be critically important in the next step!

Mistake NO.2 You don’t have a USP

It’s a competitive, dog-eat-dog world out there and you have to find a way to stand out. You do this with your USP! What’s a USP?

A USP is your “unique selling proposition”, or in layman’s terms, it’s what makes your business unique and valuable. Your USP could be a unique process, solution, offer, angle, etc. Your USP conveys to the market why you are different from your competitors, and why they should be doing business with you, instead of all their other options.

For instance, Domino's USP is “Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it's free.” Speed was something none of their competitors were doing. Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less was what made them unique in the marketplace.

FedEx's unique selling proposition, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight,” forever associated the company with next-day package delivery. They charged higher prices than their competitors, but they guaranteed next-day delivery, making the additional cost worth it for many people.

The consumer has more choices today than at any other time in history. Until you sit down and map out who you are, why you’re different, and why anyone should care, it’s going to be a constant struggle to bring on new customers, and just as hard to keep them coming back.

Keep asking yourself, “What problem do I solve and what value do I bring to the market?”

If you can’t come up with anything that separates you from the pack, you’ve got a major problem and it’s best to stop what you’re doing right now and spend some time thinking about why you got into business in the first place.

Being an entrepreneur and owning your own business can be hard but it’s darn near impossible if you don’t differentiate yourself from the competition. But if you get this right, it will make all of your marketing and sales efforts easier than you can imagine and allow you to consistently fill your pipeline with good, qualified leads. Speaking of which…

Mistake No.3 You’re not actively generating leads

Once you’ve identified your specific ideal target audience and you’ve discovered what makes your product or service unique (your USP), the next step is to actively generate interest (leads).

While a good movie, the notion in Field of Dreams of “if you build it, they will come” just doesn’t hold water in business. It takes a lot more than just creating a business for it to succeed.

Not actively going out and engaging with potential clients is another common mistake many entrepreneurs make. Leads are the lifeblood of any business… and without them, you won’t remain in business long. So why do so many entrepreneurs fail to actively generate leads ‒ even when they know they have to?

I believe it comes down to fear and overwhelm. The fear of putting yourself out there, being rejected, stepping outside your comfort zone. And then the overwhelm of there being so many ways to generate leads that you just don’t know where to start. Fear and overwhelm have been the death of many entrepreneurs.

In terms of fear, yes you’ll be told no, there will probably be times you’ll look foolish, and goodness knows not every idea or business is going to succeed. But the more you step out of your comfort zone, the more reps you get in, and the better you will become. And over time you’ll suck less.

And then you’ll actually become good. And finally, you’ll become an expert. But the only way to become great at something is to practice over and over and go through the natural cycle of becoming great. In terms of overwhelm, keep reading to discover my top ways to generate leads ‒ and the one I absolutely love and recommend.

My top ways to generate leads (specifically for online businesses):

  1. Run paid ads (Facebook, Google, YouTube, Bing, etc.)

  2. Cold message or call (yuck but it does get results)

  3. Be active in Groups or Communities (like Facebook groups, BNI, Meetups, etc)

  4. Leverage other people’s audiences (through guest blogging, email swaps, interviews, podcasts, partnerships/JVs, affiliates, etc.)

If you want my top 10 ways to leverage other people’s audiences, visit

My favorite and the one I specifically help clients with is number 4 ‒ leveraging other people’s audiences.

You need to find the one that works best for you and your business and focus on that one channel until you have it dialed in. Regardless of which one you choose, always be working on growing your email list and building out your prospecting pipeline… it truly is the lifeblood of your business. Once you have a growing list of leads, it’s important not to fall for this next mistake.

Mistake No.4 You go straight for the sale

No one likes a bully. No one likes a pushy salesman. Everyone loves to buy, but nobody wants to be sold.

So why is it that most businesses push for a sale as soon as they get a potential customer in the door and then never reach out again? Even people who have embraced the wisdom of direct response marketing and lead generation tend to try to push their product as soon as someone clicks on their ad, calls the shop, joins the email list, or happens to stop by.

Whatever happened to building a relationship and providing value first? Customers want to be charmed, educated, and even entertained a little. That’s not to say it has to take months, weeks, or even days.

In fact, one of my favorite sales conversion mechanisms is to host a half-day workshop where you provide massive value, showcase your authority, and connect with the attendees. Then at the end of the workshop, you make a non-salesy pitch for your product or service. The point is to lead with value. Don’t hold anything back. You have to show them that they can trust you, teach them that you know how to help, and lead them through the best decision for their business. That's why this next mistake is so damaging...

Mistake No.5 You don’t follow up enough

Did you know that the average prospect needs to see your marketing message at least seven times before they'll buy? It's true. In marketing circles, this is known as the Rule of Seven. But new research suggests that as much as 80% of sales happen between the 5th and 12th contact between you and your prospective clients.

Now, how many businesses can honestly say they follow up with their prospects 12 times? How many businesses even contact prospects 5 times? Very few. And those that don’t are leaving the majority of their potential sales on the table.

And it's easy to understand – no one wants to make a dozen awkward phone calls to someone you're not even sure is interested. But that excuse doesn't cut it when you look at the unprecedented opportunities the internet has created for automated marketing.

There's no reason anymore for your prospects to go ignored with the technology available to us today. You can set up an email autoresponder to educate them about your services, send them special offers, and check in on their progress. (We absolutely love if you’re looking for a great all-in-one marketing, sales, and CRM solution.) You can automate postcards to go out to them at set intervals after their first contact with you, to follow up on the quality of their first purchase, or encourage repeat business. (More on that in the next section...)

You can even schedule thank you's or birthday cards to remind people about your business and make them a special offer. The bottom line is that most businesses are letting a whole lot of sales slip away because they don't understand what their customer wants from the sales process. And if you think that's bad, most entrepreneurs don't know what a customer's really worth! Which leads me to mistake number six.

Mistake No.6 You don’t know the average Lifetime Value (LTV) of your clients

The three most important metrics every business needs to know:

  • How many leads you're getting

  • What percentage of leads convert into clients

  • And what the average client is worth to your business

And that's the real issue: most business owners don’t understand what client lifetime value is and what it means. Once you know what a client is worth to you over the course of your relationship with them, you can start to reverse engineer how much money you can afford to spend to acquire new clients and still make a profit.

The company that can spend the most to acquire a client wins. It gives you the ability to outspend your competitors with confidence, and carefully evaluate the value of any new marketing channel that comes along.

It makes it simple: if the number of new customers you get from a campaign, multiplied by your customer's average LTV is greater than the cost of that marketing, you'll turn a profit. If not, you can cut your losses early instead of doubling down and hoping it pays off on the back end.

Additionally, your client list is your company's most valuable asset. It’s the first place you should be looking for new revenue when you're trying to grow. The hardest thing in business is landing a new client. It is significantly easier to sell more products and services to someone who has already purchased from you at least once.

Your customer list can also be your most promising source of qualified new leads – new prospects that come from referrals and endorsements are by far the hottest leads a business can get because your existing customers have already done half the work for you.

They've sold the quality of your service, and your credibility and all that's left for you to do is make a compelling offer. This is largely why I love leveraging other people’s audiences ‒ you gain instant trust and credibility when someone else refers you.

Referrals just don't grow on trees, though, which leads us to the last – and possibly most damaging – marketing mistake that most businesses I talk to are making nowadays.

Mistake No.7 You think your work will speak for itself

Almost every business owner has engaged in this dangerous fantasy at one point or another, and it's the biggest thing I see killing small businesses today.

It's a nice idea: you've put the blood, sweat, and tears into being the best at what you do. It'd be great if you could go to work every day, do an outstanding job, treat your clients like gold, and watch the money pile up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

The internet has created a global community, where potential prospects can order products and services in an instant from halfway around the globe. If you're going to carve out a living for yourself, and hopefully build a business that people will remember you for, you're going to have to get serious about taking your marketing into your own hands. You can commit to it now and give yourself a headstart, or wait to play catch-up when a savvy competitor is eating your lunch.

Running a business without a growth strategy or marketing plan is like driving from New York to Los Angeles without a map. You need to start thinking with the end in mind. What kind of life do you want to lead? How much revenue do you need to generate this year to make that possible? And more specifically, how much revenue do you need this month?

Once you know that number, you can figure out how many clients you need. And once you know how many clients you need, you can figure out how much marketing and advertising you need to do to get them.

Sitting around waiting for clients to come to you is just gambling with your family's future. Too many entrepreneurs ride the small business rollercoaster...busy one week, then starving the next. That's no way to live, and it's no way to run a business. You have to start thinking strategically about how many clients you need, and how you're going to get them.

So what should you do about it? I don't mean to be negative, but frankly, this is serious business. I hope I wasn't harsh, but it drives me crazy seeing so many business owners suffer through the same challenges when the answer is right in front of them.

You just have to reach out and take it. I know, because I struggled with this too. That's why there's not a doubt in my mind that, if you can reverse-engineer the mistakes above and stamp them out of your business, you can double or triple (or more) your revenues in the next 12 months.

Did you know that 90% percent of new businesses fail within the first five years they're in operation? At ten years, that number gets closer to 99% percent. And here's the scariest part: those numbers were compiled before the global recession had even started. Who knows what the failure rate is like now?

But it's not all bad news: the internet and smart marketing strategies have made it easier than ever to reach your target market, provide massive value, continually follow up and nurture prospects, and make offers so good they can’t help but say yes!

These seven marketing mistakes are the biggest reasons I see entrepreneurs and parentpreneurs give up… and they are 100% preventable. I don't want that to happen to you. Avoid these 7 marketing mistakes as if your life depended on it… because it just might.

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Michael Kittinger, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Michael Kittinger is an award-winning marketer, coach and Parentpreneur who is passionate about helping other parent entrepreneurs build highly profitable businesses and live the "semi-retired" life. After struggling to grow his first few businesses (despite working 24/7), he knew there had to be a better way... one that wouldn't require him to work all the time and sacrifice his family. He has since found a way to have it all and now he helps other Parentpreneurs do the same. Michael is the owner of and the Parentpreneur Accelerator Community, Podcast, and Coaching Programs. His mission: To help Parentpreneurs create Income, Impact, and Independence.



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