marketing mistake

The Biggest Mistake Many Advertisers Make

So I woke up this morning with another one of my “thoughts for the day”…

A few weeks ago, I shared an actionable tip that worked for one of my clients. If you were able to avail yourself of it, then that’s great… you’re welcome.
If not… well, not every idea works for everyone, no matter how great the idea (maybe the next one will suit you better?)


But this time around I’m dropping more of a philosophical postulation (whoa, there’s a couple of big words. I’m pretty sure I used them correctly?)

Anyway, this time I’m going to rant for a moment about something that’s near and dear to my heart, but gets disregarded too easily by many other marketers.

I’ll try to keep it short and sweet, because I understand that reading the ramblings of a madman is not for everyone.


And after you read my thoughts, feel free to agree with me (because I’m brilliant)… or add your own thoughts to the conversation (because you’re brilliant)… or lay down an alternate truth of your own (because you think I’m full of crap).

Whatever you decide to do, I’m sure it’ll be the right decision for you.

So that’s enough of an introduction. Here’s what I was thinking when I woke up this morning.

After 20 years in advertising…


The Biggest Mistake I See Many Advertisers Make Is… Thinking Like A Marketer

OK, I can already hear you saying… “Wait…What??? What the hell are you talking about? We’re supposed to think like marketers . It’s what we do!”

Well before you grab the pitchforks and torches, and come after me for blasphemy, give me just one chance to explain. And if you still want to string me up after that, then I’ll even supply the rope for you…


For those of us in advertising, marketing, public relations, or any field where we need to sell our ideas to other people, we always need to remember…


It’s not all about us… It’s about our audience!

(do you see the direction I’m going with this one? If you do understand, then maybe you can lower that pitchfork just a little?)


Now don’t get me wrong, of course we need to think like marketers at the beginning of the day.

We need to understand what we’re selling, who we’re selling to, how and where to present our offer in the best way possible. We also want to look at which way the winds of trade are blowing, and what the marketplace is asking for. And we need at least a rudimentary understanding of quantitative and qualitative data analysis.
All of that, and more, takes a marketing mindset to get it right.


But at the end of the day… we need to think less like a marketer, and more like a consumer.

After all, we’re all consumers. So what makes you want to buy something? I’m willing to bet it’s not the same reason the advertiser wants to sell it to you.


And yet, this seemingly obvious concept is one that appears to be lacking in many advertising and marketing campaigns.

I still see too many advertisers trying to figure out how to sell from the sellers point of view.


Some will look at the latest gimmick or technique, and then try to simply plug it into their own marketing without understanding why (or even “if”) it works. Of course there’s nothing wrong with testing new ideas. I do it all the time. But that doesn’t mean we should blindly follow the crowd without giving it a second thought.

Like a wise man once told me… “If some people would just think twice, they’d be the smartest person in the room.”


Other lost souls will study graphs and charts from current trends, and then try to stuff their customers into a nice little category. But just because your data indicates that people are watching more cat videos on youtube, doesn’t mean we should automatically add dancing cats in all of our advertisements.

The worst offenders are the ones that make it all about themselves, and they basically yell at the market… “LOOK AT ME! CAN’T YOU SEE HOW GREAT I AM? NOW BUT MY STUFF”.


Those advertisers are usually the same people who spend half their time complaining about how the economy is bad, or how the market is drying up, or there’s just too much competition in the marketplace.

Many of these advertisers could make it so much easier on themselves if they would simply remember…

People buy what they buy, for their own reasons. Not yours… Not mine… But their own.


So instead of spending all your time trying to figure out how you can sell, why not invest some of that time figuring out how your audience wants to buy.

I’ve found that when I spend a little less time fretting over the latest technique or parlor trick, and spend a little more time understanding my audience, amazing things start to happen with conversion rates… They go up!

Of course, if you have a big enough budget, and can afford to saturate the market with your message (akin to throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if anything sticks) then there’s a good chance that you’ll eventually make something happen. And that’s great.

But for the rest of us mere mortals who need to make every advertising dollar count, it’s a worthy investment of time and energy to understand our market before we begin testing our message.


That’s why when we start a new campaign we can look at things like demographics, psychographics, trends, lifestyles and buying behaviors of our target audience. And if we can find a pattern of current buying behaviors… even better.

Then, if we want, we can sit down and create a customer profile that represents our ideal client…

And all that is great, because now we understand that we’re selling to a 35 – 40 year old married woman with children, and a total household income between $50,000 and $75,000 per year. She’s a member of the local church, buys self-help and weight-loss products, enjoys movies, occasional dining out, weekends at the beach, etc, etc, etc…

Armed with this knowledge we can begin to understand the world of our soon to be customer. We can begin to understand her hopes, dreams, desires, and fears.

And equally important (probably more so) is now we can find a list of people who closely fit that criteria.

Then we can create a promotion that makes it much easier for her to not only get excited about our offer, but also feel more comfortable buying from us instead of our competitors. Because she knows we understand her world.


I guess if I had to put this mornings thought into one sentence it would look something like …

“A good marketer knows how to think like a marketer… But a great marketer learns how to think like the customer”


Anyway, that was my thought when I woke up this morning. (I told you I’d keep it short and sweet)

Since you’ve read this far, I can only hope that means you decided not to string me up for blasphemy?

And of course I realize that even though I have multiple ways of doing things, none of my ways is the only way to get things done.

That’s why I’m always curious to know your thoughts on the subject…

Again, feel free to agree with me (because I’m brilliant)… or add your own thoughts to the conversation (because you’re brilliant)… or lay down an alternate truth of your own (because you think I’m full of crap).

Whatever you decide to do is OK by me.

After all, this post isn’t just for me… It’s for you…


Posted in Business Advertising Strategies, Copywriting, Marketing, Rants and Reflections and tagged , , .

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