Classic Marketing Mistakes

One of the classic marketing mistakes you’ll see over and over is the inability of marketers to see the world from their customers’ point of view.

I was driving home from Myrtle Beach today when I noticed a few dozen telephone poles were adorned with the same sign. One after another the poles had the same sign stapled to them. The sign was yellow, had big black letters and was posted about 6 feet off the ground. It was the perfect color to see during the day, the perfect size letters and on the major thoroughfare of the town.

The problem was they couldn’t be seen. The advertiser got just about everything right EXCEPT. . .

They failed to understand anything more about their target market other than where would be the best place in town to find them. .

BUT. . .

. . . what they ignored was the best way to interact with their audience. Other than knowing who the audience is, it’s best to take the time to see how they think. For instance, would it make sense to set-up an interactive elliptical machine demonstration in the drive-through lane at the bank? No, it wouldn’t.

The norm and expected behaviour at a drive-through is that you pull up, stay in line, stay in your car, do your business and leave. How effective would an advertiser be if he found that 98% of his target market used a bank drive-through.  Despite his target market being there, how successful would he be in trying to get drive-through customers to get out of their cars and onto an elliptical machine?

Well, that’s precisely what the telephone pole advertiser did.  The mistake they made was facing their signs directly at the street and not toward the oncoming drivers. By facing them directly at the street, I had to slow down to 5 mph and look through the passenger side window in order to read them.  Slowing down in traffic to read a telephone  pole sign?

That’s just not what people do. And that kind of thinking is what makes this one of many classic marketing mistakes.

So don’t stop at knowing your market is females, 45 and older, making $119,000 per year, with 2 kids and a Master’s Degree. . .  That just tells you who you have to study. In fact target market demographics is the starting point. . . figuring out how to market to that group will determine your success.

Ever run across an ad that was well done except for one glaring mistake? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and share!

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