In a competitive, fast-paced industry, successful marketing is not exactly a walk in the park. Gone are the days when you could rely on an advert in the paper or a hastily printed flyer; instead, all angles of your marketing strategy must be considered in order to ensure sufficient return on investment and generated interest from your customers.

In order to conquer the marketing world, you must understand the complexity of it and how it really works. We could spend time telling you exactly how to market your business and fill you in with all of our top tips, but we’ve a feeling we’ve drummed them into you quite enough. Instead, this month we’re taking a different approach to inform you of five of the most common marketing blunders – and, of course, how you can avoid making the same mistakes!

#1. Aiming at no one in particular

You can’t please everyone, so why try? Often companies will paint themselves into a corner because they are convinced that if they only target one group of people, they will miss out on the custom of another, but aiming your marketing campaign at just anyone is a big mistake and will rarely work! Before you even begin planning your marketing strategy, have a clear idea of who your target audience is, otherwise you could be spending money trying to be as generic as possible and wasting it on standing out to nobody.

#2. Misusing marketing research

It’s fantastic that these days there is so much data available for our perusal, but some marketers rely too much on their findings. Research is certainly a valuable tool that all marketers should use, but they must know how best to use it. Not all research will be relevant to your marketing campaign and not everybody tells the truth, so don’t dismiss an idea entirely because research told you to, or rely too heavily on another because it was guaranteed to work, according to research.

#3. Stretching the budget

Marketing budgets are there to be used, but not abused. Most companies will be given a marketing budget that must last an entire year, so don’t blow it all on one campaign because if it doesn’t work, you may find yourself unable to fund another. On the other hand, if your campaign does work well and you want to extend it, if you don’t have the funds to do so the whole campaign could be cut short. Ensure you remain within your budget by always seeking ways to cut costs and keep it as cost-efficient as possible, but understand when well-placed investment will be a worthwhile venture.

#4. Failing to engage with customers

It’s all about your customers. Your business relies on your customers and therefore your campaign relies on being able to attract your customers’ attention. Because of this, it is imperative that you get to know who they are, what they like, what they want and how they want to be told about it. There’s no point in creating a campaign if you don’t know for sure whether it includes anything that your potential customers will want to hear about or you have no idea how best to reach them. Utilise the tools available to you and connect with your customers wherever possible to ensure that your campaigns are designed around their needs.

#5. Attempting to outdo competitors

Every business has its competitors, but there is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. However, sometimes companies will try to coax others into a dangerous game of trying to better each other, which can cause you to start making promises you can’t keep. Are you really the number one competitor in your market and can you really guarantee your offer will always be better than theirs? Rather than try to beat competitors at every turn, just ensure you are different. It is always tempting to try to one-up the others, but you’ll make more of an impression if you just work on standing out.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.