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10 Common Mistakes Digital Marketers Make

Do you make any of these common marketing mistakes?

Mistake #1: Blazing A New Trail When The Road Is Already Paved

Re-inventing the wheel is dumb. Not doing your homework is unforgivable. 

Finding out what has worked in the past or, better yet, what’s working now is the first step that is usually not taken by a marketer.

That’s irresponsible. 

The first thing I do (now) when I agree to create a new campaign for a new client is review everything he has done before and get result figures for each of those campaigns. 

The second thing I do is get copies of everything his competitors have been running and see what sales arguments and marketing themes are being repeated over and over. 

I then concentrate on how to more effectively dramatize those sales appeals that have already been proven to strike the most responsive chords. 

Mistake #2: Writing Slogans Instead Of Long Copy

“Don’t smoke. It’s a matter of life and breath!” 

What a waste! 

I hate to think about how much money has been wasted on that bit of drivel. Smoking is an addiction. It’s stronger (really) than heroin. 

Do you honestly believe that any nicotine addicts whatsoever have ever given up their habit because they heard that little jingle on the radio. 

Don’t be ridiculous. 

If you really want to have even a chance at “selling” someone on the idea of giving up tobacco, you’d better use all the big guns you have. 

All the statistics, all the health hazards, all the benefits (improved appearance, etc.) you will enjoy when you quit and so on.

And so it is with whatever it is you are trying to sell. 

Mistake #3: Being Remiss Instead Of Being Redundant

I have a tendency to repeat myself. I make no apologies. Many people (including me) do not need so much to be taught something new, as they need to be reminded of what they already know.

Remember this: You will tire of your successful campaigns long before your market does. It is folly to change a successful campaign in midstream if that campaign is still working. 

Yet, believe it or not, it happens everyday. “We need something new. Something more creative. A fresh approach.”

Oh yeah, who says so? Do the numbers say so? 

If not, don’t you dare change a winner. If you’ve got a winner, I want you to keep using it over and over and over until the numbers say you need a fresh approach.

Mistake #4: Being Remiss Instead Of Being Redundant

You know what? I have something else to say on this subject and I almost let it go. 

Can you believe that? I nearly made the same mistake I just finished describing! 

Another way to be remiss instead of being redundant is to not tell your full story in every ad. 

Don’t ever believe that people (because of your redundant advertising) are so familiar with the benefits of what you are selling they only need to be reminded of your existence.

That’s hardly ever true. Give your complete pitch every time you pay to get an audience!

Mistake #5: Not Making Enough Cheap Mistakes After You’ve Got A Winner

The last few paragraphs may have led you to believe that I believe “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” 

I do believe that. However, I also believe there’s certainly nothing wrong with making a good thing better. And the way you do that is by testing. 

Now look, most of you already know about all the tests you should make that make sense. You already know you should test price. And headlines. And offers. And media. And lists. And so on.

But did you also know that, every once in a while, you should deliberately make “dumb” tests? 

After you’ve got a winner, every once in a while test something that “doesn’t make sense.” Like a ridiculously high price. Or a ridiculously low one. Or a list from “left field.” Or a triple your money back guarantee. Or a totally different appeal instead of one that makes sense.

Mistake #6: Underestimating Human Greed

Lurking deep within us all is a ravenous monster and that beast has an appetite that cannot be sated.

Guess what? Immediately after I wrote that last sentence, a friend of mine, walked into my office with a mailing from magazine to which he was responding. You know why? It’s because it offered him a savings of $83.25 off the $104.00 cover price. He said he didn’t particularly want the magazine but the savings were just too real and too great to pass up.


I wonder if that other guy I know who dates 10 women a month would be interested in one more? 

Could it be that that self made man who already has 10 million dollars would be interested in more money? 

Do you honestly believe that all those rich women in Beverly Hills would undecorously scratch and scramble to get in on a department store’s annual half-price sale? 

Or that that customer who already subscribes to six girlie magazines would buy yet another? 

Or that that movie star with seven cars would even consider buying one more?

Listen: People are greedy, greedy, greedy.

Offer outrageous bargains. Offer convenience beyond belief. Provide unheard of service. Give away free TV’s to everybody who buys your cars. Give rebates.

In short, when all else fails, offer bribe!

Mistake #7: Overestimating Human Intelligence

Anything that can be misunderstood will be misunderstood. Explain things in baby talk. 

Even when you are writing to college professors or nuclear physicists. Infer nothing. 

Explain everything. Lead people by the hand as though they were children. 

Use short words. 

Short paragraphs. 

Simple English.

Mistake #8: Guessing What They Want Instead Of Asking Them

What if what you are trying to sell is some product or service that is new, that has never been sold before? 

Well, I’ll tell you, you know what a dumb guy who works for a dumb marketing agency will do? Very simple: he’ll start guessing!

Guessing what appeals to use. 

Guessing which groups of people will most likely buy the product. 

Guessing what the best price will be. 

Guessing what features to play up; which ones to play down.

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. 

When you are spending tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars of your client’s money, it is irresponsible to try and “dream up” what the market will respond to. 

Instead, what you should really do, is go out and talk to people. 

Show them the new product or describe the new service. Ask people what they think. Would they buy it? At what price? What do they especially like about it? What do they especially dislike? What would make it more appealing to them?

And then, my friend, if you are a responsible person, you will build your campaign around, their answers instead of your guesses! 

Mistake #9: Failing To Remember That People Are Skeptical

The #1 reason for marketing failure is that people simply don’t want what you are selling at all. 

The #2 reason is that people don’t want it as much as they want the money they would have to give up for it. 

But, once you’ve overcome those first two reasons, then, the biggest joker left in the pack is that they don’t believe you!

They don’t believe the product will do what you say. They don’t believe you will make good on your guarantee. They don’t believe that you will even send the product to them. They don’t believe you are honest or, that you will be around next year. Or, in a nut shell, they just don’t believe you are sincere.

Mistake #10: Being Too Proud To Ask For Help

Jay Abraham has one of the finest marketing minds on the planet yet, when he isn’t sure what to do, he asks me. 

And guess what I do when I get stuck? Very simple. I ask him! Or somebody else. Or a whole bunch of somebody elses.

Look: In spite of all the things the marketing community does wrong, it still has some of the finest minds to be found anywhere. 

And the very best marketing minds never trust their fortunes to the poverty of their own imaginations and intelligence. 

No. Believe me, at the top, there may be competition, but it is a friendly sort of competition. 

The very top creative people are almost always givers. They give freely of their ideas, their opinions, their experiences and so on.

So don’t try and do it all yourself. Don’t let false pride stop you from reaching out for help.


*This article originally appeared in The Gary Halbert Letter. It is modified and reprinted here with permission.

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