3 Mistakes
Marketers Make

   Armen A. Avakian

I have been working in the marketing field for a while as a consultant. I have had interactions with many multinational companies and have worked on over 130 brands in more than 40 countries worldwide. Throughout the years I have seen the same mistakes made over and over again. I thought I would just highlight some that I see very often.

Almost all companies would agree to the following statement “We are consumer centric”. That is a crucial buzzword in the marketing community, but how many companies are actually consumer centric? Well if you are making some of the following mistakes you cannot consider yourself to be consumer centric:

Assuming your category is important

This is probably one of the most common mistakes I see. You see segmentation models that are based on demographics and usually category consumption habits. You hear words like “Heavy users, light users, daily consumers, weekly consumers” or they might even have sexy marketing names like “Bargain hunters”.

The fact remains that trying to segment consumers based on the category you are in is a mistake. No matter what category you are in (barring maybe utilities) you represent only a very small part of your consumers’ lives. Try to think about yourself, if you didn’t have your favourite soft drink or if you went without your favourite brand of tea your life would continue to function as if nothing has changed.

So what’s the solution; why don’t we try segmenting people and not consumers. Moving from B2B and B2C marketing to H2H marketing: Human-to-Human. Let’s try to understand what these people want from life, their hopes, fears, aspirations, dreams, what are they consuming in ALL categories, what brands do they prefer in their day to day life. Then and only then we can understand how our category fits into their life.

Focusing on the competitive field

This is another key mistake I see happening way to often. The marketing directors and brand managers get caught up in what the competition is doing. Don’t get me wrong it is important to keep an eye out for what’s happening in the market, but that cannot and should not be your main source of information when making marketing decisions.

Your competition should be as relevant to you as they are to your consumer target audience and never more. If you see a girl and a boy holding hands in the street you don’t care; if you see boy holding the hand of your wife in the street all of a sudden you care very much. Competition is similar; unless they are talking to and reaching your target audience, then they are as irrelevant as a random couple holding hands.

Your competition does not have money to give you. The consumers do, so as long as you focus on being more relevant to your consumer then you win.

It’s fun to poke at your competitions, but that is an after 5pm task. From 9-5 your job is the consumers.

Trying to find marketing decisions in research

Is marketing an art based on vision or is marketing a science based in knowledge. I am sure you could argue either way for hours, but the fact remains that marketing is a mixture of both. In every Marketing Director there is a blend of knowledge and vision that make them either a good marketer or a great one. Everyone has their own style and their own ratio of knowledge and visions, but they're both present.

I’ve seen many companies forget this fact. Companies tend to order research and expect to find the marketing solutions in the 290-page report the agency gives them. The question “what should I do now?” comes up often if not out load then at least in the heads of many.

Research is just a tool to gather information and knowledge from the market and consumers. The decisions you take based on this knowledge comes from the vision of your marketers.

Identifying these mistakes within your company is usually easy. Accepting them is much harder and remedying them becomes so difficult that it almost seems impossible. There are companies out there who have solved all of the issues above. They are the companies that have created brands that are not only making money, but even more so are truly iconic.

I have consulted companies and brands that have gone through the process of trying to fix these issues. The process is long and the journey has its ups and downs, but when the dust clears and the marketers stand they stand on a solid foundation and can truly call themselves consumer centric.

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