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BooksEffective marketing means doing your homework, stepping back and really looking from the outside in! We’ve reviewed dozens of marketing plans over the years. There’s an incredible amount of really lousy marketing out there. I’m not just talking “inept.” I’m talking the “unbelievable – makes me want to buy from the competitor” kind of lousy.

1. No Concept of the Ideal Customer
Many marketers have a completely product-centric view of the world. They know their product up, down and sideways but have only a vague idea of who might actually want or need it, or how they’d actually use it. Worst case, the marketers don’t think that’s important because they think their product is so state-of-the-art that it’s obvious why it’s a good thing to buy.

2. No Time Spent Listening to That Type of Customer
Even when marketers DO have a concept of the ideal customer, they often spend little time actually listening to those customers. They do “market research” and run demographic numbers, but when it comes to just sitting down and listening (really listening)… that’s simply not on the agenda. Not surprisingly, the result is marketing messages that don’t mean anything to the people who are supposed to buy.

3. No Idea of What That Customer’s Customer Wants
Even when marketers DO listen to an ideal customer, they listen for the wrong things. They try to find ways that the product they’re marketing can fulfill the customer’s needs. While that sounds smart, it’s actually stupid. In business-to-business selling, what’s important is not satisfying the customer’s needs but rather satisfying the needs of the customer’s customer. That’s what’s driving the business. Your product only counts if it counts to the end customers.

4. Inability to Formulate a Meaningful Value Proposition
Even when marketers DO understand their customer’s customer, they often have an extraordinarily difficult time formulating a value proposition that makes sense to both the customer and the end customer. Doing so requires an understanding of the business dynamics that permeate the entire supply chain, a concept that’s unfortunately missed by many experienced marketers.

5. Inability to Articulate a Value Proposition in 25 Words or Less
Even when marketers DO have a great value proposition, they tend to overexplain it. That always results in long-winded sentences full of abstractions, biz-blab and jargon. Writing a crisp message is a specialized task that only a talented individual can accomplish. It’s a rare skill, as evidenced by the truly awful marketing messages floating around.

The real solution is to step back from your day-to-day marketing chaos, research potential customer segments, and spend lots of time listening until you thoroughly understand how their businesses work. Then, after you REALLY understand what’s going on, use a professional writer and resist the urge to let the process muck up your message.


Bob Wendt, President
Cultivate Communications

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5 Marketing Mistakes You Can Avoid

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