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Marketing goofs and gaffes - help us learn

ChuckChuck subscriber Posts: 6
edited March 2007 in Marketing
There`s nothing better than really colossal mistakes to help teach you valuable lessons in your business and your life. I`m particularly interested in your marketing missteps - what was the goof and did you learn your lesson?I can recall the heady days of the early 2000`s, when I first set foot into Google AdWords. It was all so simple, right - choose some keywords, set a budget and cost per click, and start getting traffic - sweet! A bunch of wasted budget later, it became obvious that while it wasn`t rocket science, it takes careful strategy, monitoring and analysis to be successful in that system.So how about you, help us all learn from your screw ups!


  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    I`ve made too many mistakes to even bother talking about them. I`d need an entire web site. The worst marketing mistake I made was being company-centered or product-centered instead of customer-centered.
  • RumpelstiltskinRumpelstiltskin subscriber Posts: 1
    "I`ve been part of so many companies that have tanked" (quote). Never ever and ever say that again! To anyone! (I wont tell )
  • ChuckChuck subscriber Posts: 6
    "I`ve been part of so many companies that have tanked" (quote). Never ever and ever say that again! To anyone! (I wont tell )
    But seriously, that is the point right - would you even trust someone who said they`ve never been part of something that`s tanked? My reaction to that would be that that person has never taken a risk.
  • AddassaMariAddassaMari subscriber Posts: 2
    I can relate to Google AdWords, after my experience with Yahoo`s Sponored Search.  I saw 30 days of advertising budget disappear in one week and nothing to show, except a non-productive campaign.
    Live and learn, right.  Who knows, that campaign is currently paused, I might give it another try.
  • ChuckChuck subscriber Posts: 6
    Well, that`s life in the bay area in the early 2000s. Get hired, get laid off. Get hired, get laid off.
    Yep, I was in Seattle, same story - everyone I knew seemed to be getting laid off (including me), it was kinda surreal. I know that at least some of us learned some lessons about customer value, business models, priorities, etc. from that experience.
  • ChuckChuck subscriber Posts: 6
    Yep, the money isn`t endless, and only those who have built a solid foundation with some real competitive advantage are going to survive the inevitable downturn.So come on, there have to be some more clear cut gaffes from a marketing perspective out there - don`t be shy, we`ve all been there, give us the nitty gritty!
  • ruzzmanruzzman subscriber Posts: 0
    My marketing goofs revolve around poor spelling and lack of proofing.  I was preparing for a major seminar/show and had new business cards and handouts printed.  i received them the day before I left and didn`t notice the error in my website URL until I was heading to the show floor.  The printing was only a couple $100 but the cost of the trip and missed business potential was substantially more.
    I now plan further in advance and have everything proofed by 2 other people in my firm before I commit.
  • ChuckChuck subscriber Posts: 6
    Thanks for contributing that Sam - of course I`m sorry to hear about the negative implications of that mistake, but this is exactly what I was asking for in this topic, and I know everyone can takeaway something from that.I`m sure there are plenty of trade show gaffes out there - I can recall an eBay Live event I was part of a couple of years ago where, due to some miscommunication between our team at the show, we arrived at the show on the morning it was opening (about 45 minutes before the show floor opened) to find the our entire 8x10 booth was sitting there...in the boxes, completely unassembled. Needless to say, for the first 20 or 30 minutes of the floor being opened, we didn`t make the best impression upon event attendees (to say the least). (fyi, it was not startupnation presenting!)
  • EventOneEventOne subscriber Posts: 0
    One mistake I made was to get in involved with small time directory book publishers.  The books are often ignored by the customers who tend to just use the main local telco or Yellowbook directory.
    I also joined a business association thinking it would boost my visability.  The reallity is that it did not.
    My advice is to spend money for advertizing where customers are looking.  Google ads (yahoo and msn as well), Yellowbook, local telco book, and direct mail to those businesses who will need your goods or services.
  • ChuckChuck subscriber Posts: 6
    Thanks Mark - definitely reinforces the need to set up a thoughtful strategy about how you allocate those precious marketing dollars. Understanding your audience and the where/when/how of reaching them is a must.
  • PatP3005PatP3005 subscriber Posts: 2
    As I was reading, I had one thought in mind. Then this horribly embarrassing moment popped into my head. Thought I had forgotten it, but, no, it`s still buried in there.
    The first one was a direct mail piece, just recently. I was doing a mailing to attract new homeowners in my area for tax preparation. I work from a home-based office and H&R Block is within 1/2 mile of me. Anyway, I needed to give people a reason to come to me rather than HRB. One of the things I did was offer a call to action. On the front of the postcard, I put "Mention this card when you call and receive 20% off." On the back of the card, I put "Call before January 31 and receive 20% off." Man, did I feel like an idiot. Which is it? I had a woman call just today (3/13) and she had received my postcard. She asked if she could still use it since it was past January 31. I just laughed. So did she. (BTW, the cards have been a great success. I`ve picked up many new tax clients, but even better, I`ve gotten 3 new monthly business clients. Woo-hoo!)
    This one was embarrassing. I was reading about different marketing ideas, and I read somewhere that you could have fun with your job title, make yourself more approachable. So, I (an accountant, not a birthday clown) had business cards made up with my job title being Head Honcho. I got a job with a really major contact in the county. The main guy and two of his office workers came to my office for a meeting. When we were finished, I handed him my card. (I know, you`re cringing already aren`t you?) He looked at it, and raised his eyebrows. I lost the account about three weeks later. There were many reasons, certainly not because I was the Head Honcho. But, I realized that if it appeared that I wasn`t taking myself seriously, how could I expect the manager of a large organization to take me seriously? Those cards went in the trash.    
  • HHHH subscriber Posts: 0
    I guess I have to add mine, after reading everyone else`s.  I bought and sent out some really pretty pens, imprinted with my business, to prospects nationwide.  A couple of the envelopes came back as "no such number", or some such, and the pens inside the envelopes were in pieces!  I was mortified, wondering how many people received my beautiful, imprinted, BROKEN pens.My lesson?  I don`t send out pens anymore.  Sticky pads don`t break.
  • ChuckChuck subscriber Posts: 6
    I love it, now we`re getting at some advice - I totally concur with Nikole that people should be more open about discussing these "learning experiences". As I said before, it lends a huge amount of credibility if you can point to these types of incidents - as Michael perfectly points out, there`s a real skill to taking a lump and effectively learning from it and building on it.Pat, such a great post, thanks for sharing those experiences - I`m sure anyone who has ever done a print piece in their life has had an experience like that - what a feeling when you see it printed on a thousand pieces of collateral!
  • bjflanaganbjflanagan subscriber Posts: 0
    I had quite an instructive experience, recently. I was chatting with a nice gent who`s based in London and who works in business technology. I sent him a copy of a recent piece of mine, an invited paper for a series on "Men Who Made a New Science," having to do with my work on the quantum basis of mind & brain. He was puzzled as to why I sent it, which perplexed me in turn.I replied that, since he had an interest in technology, that perhaps this new realm of inquiry might also interest him. He then wanted to know whether I thought the work had technological implications. I was floored. My work has directly to do with quantum mechanics, which has given us lasers, microchips and nuclear energy. I wrote back, explaining how all of science rests on physics and all of technology, too. So that, when the foundations of physics shift, so too with all the rest of the structure built upon it -- i.e., all of science and technology. He answered by way of a stunned silence. But since then, all sorts of high powered financial and tech interests have been dropping by to visit my web site, including the biggest names in the biz.Quanta & ConsciousnessWell...  I`ve been a tech geek since infancy. I have always known that science and technology are joined at the hip. But it got me to thinking how, when they first put GPS satellites into orbit, they had to convince the engineers to correct for relativistic changes in the satellites` clocks. Engineers! Apparently, they thought relativity was just some fancy nonsense having no bearing on the real world! My mistake was a basic one. I assumed that what was obvious to me was likewise plain as day to everyone else. (Doh!)Of course, this is all so new, and so "out there," that many people understandably wonder whether there`s anything in it. Happily, the AAAI & Stanford U are hosting a symposium on this stuff later this month, so it seems we`ve gone mainstream.
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