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The Worst Marketing Advice I’ve Ever Heard

There is a lot of bad marketing advice out there. Here’s a list of what to ignore, along with what to do instead.

The Worst Marketing Advice I’ve Ever Heard
[Photo: Flickr user Roman Iakoubtchik]

With so many people professing to help you market better, it’s difficult to tell the genuine from the phony.

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A few years ago when my business hit a slump, I hired a sales and marketing coach. While he offered some valid advice, he also provided a few snippets of pure nonsense, such as wandering the streets of NYC networking.

He also advised that I forget about revamping my antiquated website since that would divert me from my key task of finding new clients. Hey, can’t a website be a powerful source of new business?

The problem with this coach was that his head was buried in the past. He was advising for a pre-Internet world that no longer existed.

Unfortunately, he is not the only one out there offering up schlock disguised as wisdom.

So what to do?

To help you sort through the gobs of marketing misinformation out there, here is a checklist of what not to do, along with a list of what to do instead.

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Don’t follow all the advice of marketing experts. This is not meant to tar all consultants, many of whom offer excellent advice. It’s to remind you that if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Instead weigh up what the marketing coach says. Everyone operates from some bias, and the consultant’s bias may come at your expense. If you’re not sure, run a suggestion by a trusted friend or colleague.

Don’t try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. If your product or service is bad, forget about it. No amount of marketing is going to make people buy something that’s lousy.

Instead fine-tune your product or service so that it sets you apart from the competition and provides a benefit. Does it have to be better than anything else on the market? No. But it does have to provide value people will want.

Don’t ignore self-promotion. I hear this a lot among baby boomers and sales types, who don’t want to appear to be bragging or boasting. This is a misunderstanding of marketing, part of which entails branding yourself. The key is how that’s done.

Instead become known as an expert and thought leader. The best way to do this is to provide useful, engaging information that will help people in their lives. No one wants to know how great you are. They do want to do know how to improve their lives. If you can help make someone smarter, give them a chuckle or do something that helps them during the day, you become that much more trusted and respected.

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Don’tneglect your website. That’s a little like ignoring leaky pipes. In both cases, you’re looking for trouble.

Instead become a website analytics junkie or hire one. Sniff out how people behave on your site using tools like Google Analytics. Discover where visitors drop off, what they share in social media, what they engage with. Then start improving your site based on your analysis.

Don’t spend endless hours going to meetings. While networking is great, it can often be a total waste of time. It’s like hanging out at a bar waiting for the right person to walk in when you might better spend your time seeking out that person online.

Instead be selective in the meetings you attend. Try to obtain a list of attendees ahead of time so you can see if a meeting will be worthwhile. And get a list of attendees after the meeting so you can follow up with people you didn’t have a chance to meet.

About the author

Wendy Marx is President of Marx Communications, an award-winning boutique B2B Public Relations agency known for turning companies and executives, including start-ups, into thought leaders. Follow her on Twitter @wendymarx and on Google+ @ plus.google.com/+wendymarx.

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