The 10 Most Costly Marketing Mistakes
 and How to Avoid Them

By Robert Imbriale, Business Coach

I am constantly hearing the same dilemma over and over
again: "what can I do to sell more of my
products/services?". Look around, you'll immediately see
what you shouldn't do. Look at the very next ad you see. If
you're like me, what you'll see are business communications
that are self-centered, braggart, loaded with unnecessary
information, and just plain ineffective marketing tools. In
essence, a waste of the marketer's time, the company's money
and a failure to gain the prospect's interest.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of ads never accomplish
their main objective: to sell the product! Just because an
ad costs a lot of money doesn't mean it is any more
effective than one that costs thousands less.

The following 10 items are the most costly mistakes you can
make as a business owner or marketing manager. So let's get
serious and help you to avoid these all-too-common mistakes
before they cost you your job or your business!

1) Centering Your Focus on Your Company, NOT On Your

It is all too easy to focus all your advertising on you or
your company and not on your prospects. We all do it, just
look at any ad and ask yourself who the ad is really talking
about. Is it talking about the prospect or about the
company? You must focus ALL your marketing communications on
the prospect...period!

To overcome this common mistake is the single most important
step to selling more of your
products or services. Remember the prospect is interested in
one thing and one thing only: what's in it for them! Forget
about how great your company is, how long you've been in
business, etc... Save that for later. Instead, begin with
your focus on your prospects and their concerns.

2) Not Knowing Everything About Your Prospects And Their

The more you know about your prospect, the easier it will be
to convince them that they need your product or service.
Every qualified prospect has a problem that your product can
easily solve to ultimately make their life easier in some
way. Your job is to uncover this problem, or set of
problems, and show your prospect, (using facts based on
benefits) that they must buy what you are selling in order
to immediately solve their problem and lead a happier, more
productive life.

To see what I mean, simply ask yourself why someone should
buy what you are selling. Use
your answers in all your marketing communications. It's that
simple, yet how often is it just not done? Remember this
fact. People buy because they have a problem, rarely do they
buy just for the sake of buying or because you've been in
business over twenty years. Think about your own personal
reasons for buying anything and you'll see what I mean.

3) Not Knowing What Specific Benefits Your Product/Service

Study the true benefits of using and owning your products or
services. A true "benefit" differs
greatly from a "feature". Features are about the product:
benefits are about the prospect.

You will sell far more of your products or services if you
focus on what is important to the prospect (benefits), not
on the features of your product. Your prospects are only
interested in the benefits they will receive by owning your
products or services. In other words, your prospect is
interested in your product mostly because of the problem(s)
it solves and not much else.

4) Not Taking the Time to Qualify Your Prospects BEFORE You
Spend ANY Money
Marketing Your Products to Them

It astounds me to see how many times I get expensive
promotional mailings sent to me without EVER having first
been qualified as being; A) interested in the product, B)
able to afford the product or C) having ANY need, currently
or in the future, for the product! I know that I will never
buy anything from that company, no matter how glitzy a
promotion they present me with because I have no need for
what they are selling! So why don't they know that? Simple,
they never took the time to qualify me as a potential

There are many ways to qualify a prospect, the most simple
methods being things such as having the prospect return a
business reply mail card from a card-deck, calling an "800"
number to request your information or catalog, or by buying
a related product from either yourself or a similar
business. If you don't take these simple steps to qualify
your prospects, your marketing efforts are being wasted on
people who will NEVER buy what you are selling for any
number of reasons. Smart marketing starts with qualifying

5) Focusing Your Marketing Communications To The Masses-Not
Speaking Directly To Your Prospect

All too often, marketing communications try to satisfy all
the people all of the time and as a result end up alienating
most prospects most of the time. Face it, you will never be
all things to all people all the time so focus on a specific
prospect. Describe to them a specific situation where your
product could directly make their life easier.

Your marketing communications should speak directly to me,
your prospect. Ask yourself what problems(s) your prospect
is trying to solve and why is it very important that they
solve them with your products or services. Stop wasting your
precious marketing dollars talking over your prospects!
Focus, focus, focus!

6) Not Stating The Specific Problem Your Prospect Has And
What That Problem Is
Costing Him/Her Every Minute It Is Left Unsolved.

Selling on fear is a powerful, yet widely misunderstood,
marketing tool that is the most effective and most important
element to any marketing communication you will ever write.
In order to get your prospect to take notice of what you are
selling, you have to blatantly tell them what it is costing
them for ignoring your message. This can be done as a
headline, followed by a sub-headline explaining the
solution: your products or services. (Remember explain the
main BENEFIT of your product as the SOLUTION to the problem
you have just stated). For example:

Stop Wasting Your Valuable Time And Money Waiting For blah
blah blah....

Use <your product/service> and get <specific benefit>

7) Not Using the Most Powerful First Line of Your Document
to Attract Attention.

All too often we get caught up in a very common marketing
trap. Look at your marketing materials, what is the first
thing you see? Is it your fancy company logo, your address,
something about how good you think you are? Chances are that
is exactly what you will see. The problem is that the
prospect doesn't care about your logo, or how good a company
you think you are. All they really care about is what's in
it for them.

Begin any marketing piece you write with a strong statement
that will capture attention immediately. The first thing
your prospect must see in order to attract their attention
is a statement of a specific problem they have followed by
the solution you have.

You might also back up your headline by stating the cost of
not solving the problem immediately. Once you capture their
attention, then you can take the time to explain your
product in greater detail. Gain attention first, spell out
details later.

8) Not Giving Your Prospect a Compelling Reason to act
immediately: While You Have Their Attention!

Now that you have created a need for what you are selling,
you have to motivate your prospect to take immediate
action... while they are still excited about your products
or services. Wait to long and you know what will happen: the
average consumer will soon forget all about what you can do
for do for them and quickly move on to the next exciting

Convincing a prospect that you have a great solution to a
problem they have is only the first step to making the sale.
It will do you no good to have the prospect ready to act and
not have a compelling reason for them to act immediately!

This can be accomplished by using special "limited time"
offers, two for one sales, cash discounts, etc... You have
to tell your prospect that you have a solid solution to
their problem and if they order today, you will add some
FREE bonus, grant a discount of XX%, double the order at no
charge, pay for shipping, etc... It is of no value to you to
get your prospects motivated to buy and not give them ANY
compelling reason to act TODAY!!!

9) Not Using Testimonials in ALL Your Marketing

To a prospect that is receiving your marketing materials for
the first time, your company may have little or no
credibility. You may well be totally unknown to your

Getting around this hurdle and convincing your prospect that
others with similar problems HAVE truly benefited in a
positive way from your product is the fastest and most
effective way of gaining your prospect's confidence.

Every time you get ANY positive feedback from a prospect,
ask them if you can quote them,
even if it is just on the telephone. Keep a file of these
quotes and have it handy the next time you sit down to
create a new marketing piece.

Failure to use testimonials will result in undue difficulty
in gaining a new prospect's confidence and will directly
impede your sales. My personal rule of thumb is to use about
two testimonials per page.

10) Not Offering a Guarantee of Satisfaction

The common belief that offering a guarantee will simply
entice more returns is false. By offering a guarantee of
satisfaction you will invariably sell more of your products
or services without necessarily increasing your net
percentage of returns. Your prospects will be converted into
customers more easily and will be less likely to return your
products because your guarantee implies faith in the product
or service by your company. This may be the final step in
getting many stubborn prospects to commit to purchasing your

Not Simplifying the Purchasing Process As A Final Step

All too often ordering a product is difficult, if not at all
worth the effort. All the marketing in the
world is useless if purchasing your product is not made
easy. If you are selling through the mail, include an order
coupon that is large enough to fill out without having to
crunch too much information into too small an area. Provide
an "800" number with responsive people to answer questions
and take orders. Provide a "postage-paid" return envelope so
that orders can be returned to you immediately without
making the prospect search endlessly for a stamp!

These response devices go a very long way into closing the
sale while the prospect is still excited about it. We are a
people accustomed to immediate gratification and it is not
only necessary, but it is expected.


As you can see, marketing is a multi-faceted process that
requires a great amount of preparation and is often
over-looked as being nothing more than a nuisance to the
person responsible for creating the marketing
communications. I can promise you this: if you follow the 10
guidelines I've just presented to you, you will immediately
increase you response rates and ultimately your sales. How
high a response rate depends on how well you've applied the
concepts to your marketing. I have personally achieved
response rates as high as 77% on a direct mail campaign - a
figure unheard of in today's marketplace.

You can increase your sales, lower your marketing budget,
and ultimately sell more of your products or services! Just
follow these steps, and let me know how it works out for
you. I'm always available to help you out and I do enjoy
hearing your success stories!

Resource Information

Mr. Imbriale is a nationally recognized Business Coach,
Speaker, Copywriter, and Author of
"Internet Marketing Secrets." Many companies nationwide have
used his marketing techniques to dramatically expand their
businesses without spending a fortune. If you would like a
Free Business Check-Up for your business, a seminar
schedule, or would like to order a copy his book, contact
Mr. Imbriale's office toll-free at 1-888-226-8109 or via
e-mail at
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