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10 Reasons Why Businesses Fail at Marketing

John Follis says that many business owners attempt to tackle the challenge of marketing their business by themselves, and explains why they fail.

1) They don’t fully understand it.

Perception: Marketing is advertising.
Reality: Marketing may not even include advertising.

Perception: Marketing is an expense.
Reality: Marketing is an investment.

2) They rely almost exclusively on Word-of-Mouth.

Word-of-mouth is the best way to get business and savvy marketing helps create it. So, you can’t sit back and hope for customers. You must be proactive.

3) They think they can’t afford it.

This ties in with the perception/reality issue…when marketing is primarily limited to traditional advertising that’s usually expensive and often less than effective. Good marketing involves a smorgasbord of cost-effective, creative options and executions.

4) Their product needs improvement.

Obviously, the better the product, the better the marketing can be. It’s hard to get people excited about a product that’s esoteric, irrelevant or inferior.

5) They expect results too quickly.

Unless you’re running some kind of sale, marketing takes time. Like building a house or getting in shape it takes planning, discipline and patience. If you want fast results, you have to run a promotion.

6) Arrogance or naiveté.

Maybe you think you can do it all yourself or simply don’t know where to turn. The problem is, if it’s not truly your expertise chances are you’ll be wasting both time and money. Think about it. If you’re building a house, it helps to have a great architect, right? If you have legal issues, it helps to have a great lawyer. Successful business owners know the same applies to their marketing.

7) They don’t really know what they’re selling.

It’s not just the product or service; it’s also the emotional and psychological benefit. You need to determine what that is.

8) They don’t really know who they’re selling to.

Many a marketing effort as failed because the prospects they’ve been targeting for the past few years are not the ones they need to be targeting looking ahead.

9) They don’t embrace the new technology.

Things are constantly evolving and your marketing must employ every relevant technological advantage to stay competitive.

10) They get help, but the wrong help.

Friends and associates are fine if they’re qualified. Too often, they aren’t. When it comes to getting the best marketing help one obvious test is seeing how well they do it for themselves. Visit their web site, spend a few minutes, see what they’ve done and what their clients say, and then decide.

© 2005 John Follis. All rights reserved.

John Follis is one of the 12 “Best Advertising Minds of New York” as voted by The New York Ad Club. His campaigns are in 3 college textbooks, he has written for ADWEEK, and he has taught at 3 New York universities. Currently, John works on select projects, consults, and speaks. He may be reached at

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