Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

By Eileen Coale

Whether you promote your business with brochures, sales letters, a Web site or any other written materials, avoiding these three common mistakes will help you to connect more effectively with your prospects and clients.

Mistake #1: Trying to accomplish too much with a single marketing piece

You didn’t agree to marry your spouse on the basis of one intriguing personal ad or one casual social conversation, did you? Expecting a marketing piece to explain your business top to bottom and land the sale is equally unrealistic. Any promotional piece is just the beginning of a relationship, and the goal is to help get you a first date (a meeting or a phone call) with a prospect.

Choose one or, at the most, two realistic aims for each marketing piece. Here’s a quick list of some actionable items for prospects:

• Call for information about a specific service or product you offer (example: Call now to find out how to use direct mail to fill your pipeline with leads)

• Call or email for a free report, white paper or article reprint

• Contact you for an appointment

• Contact you for a free, no-obligation, no-hard-sell consultation

Mistake #2: Lack of focus
If you’re like most businesses, you offer a variety of services and have several different types of clients. When introducing your business to a new prospect, the temptation is to give her a lengthy laundry list of everything you do. The result is that the prospect gets no clear impression at all of what you do, because you seem to do everything.

To avoid this mistake, target your marketing materials more precisely. Segment your market by the type of clients you serve (entrepreneurs vs. corporations, for example) or by services (training and seminars, individual coaching, and corporate HR consulting). Create a separate brochure, letter, or Web page for each segment. The result: a stronger connection with each prospect.

Mistake #3: “It’s all about me.”

Don’t lead off in your marketing materials by talking about yourself. Knowing when and how to introduce your background and credentials is a bit tricky. You think that by saying, “I am a Ph.D. in widget maximization and have 47 years of experience in the industry,” he’s hearing, “I understand and can solve your widget issues.” He’s not. Your prospect assumes from the get-go that you have the credentials, so it’s not the first thing he wants to know about you.

Think of the old saying, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Your prospect first needs to hear language that demonstrates you really do understand where he’s coming from when it comes to widget frustration. The connection that you make here actually happens at an emotional level. Until you can achieve that connection, he doesn’t give a hoot about your credentials. Only when he’s convinced that you may well be The One to solve his problems will he care enough to check out your background and experience.

© 2010, Eileen Coale

Eileen Coale, owner of Coale Communications, is a freelance copywriter and small-business marketing consultant.  Visit her Web sites at and She can be reached at 410-757-0821.

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