How to Lose Money on Your Next Marketing Campaign

By BKV in Direct Marketing on June 8th, 2010

Not long ago, I sent out a Tweet asking for advice for a blog post called "How to Lose Money on Your Next Marketing Campaign." The response was phenomenal. I've collected some of the responses and compiled them below. I've also added several to the list from my own experiences. Here goes:
  1. Forgetting to dial the 800 number directly from the final proof of the ad: That's right, every time you have a final proof of an ad, dial the 800 number directly from the final proof. Don't dial it from an earlier version. And certainly don't just eyeball it to check that it's the right number. Dial it from the ad.
  2. Purchasing the wrong direct mail list: It sounds so simple, doesn't it? But plenty of budgets have been blown by sending direct mail to the wrong people. (Thanks to Robert Clay who wrote an excellent in-depth article on this topic called Taking the Mystery Out of List Buying.)
  3. Putting "everyone" in charge of final proofreading: When you put "everyone" in charge of proofreading, then nobody is in charge of it. One person should be held responsible. That's the only safe way to ensure it's proofread properly.
  4. Not having someone else read your email subject lines: If your email subject line is too clever, the audience can misunderstand the offer. Have a third-party double check for clarity.
  5. Not checking the translation. We've all heard about the Chevy Nova issue in Latin America (which is exaggerated, by the way - sales for the Nova in Latin America were fine.) That said, don't forget to have someone fluent in the native tongue read over your copy so you can avoid embarrassing misunderstandings.
  6. Not double-checking 800 number mis-dials: Okay, it's neat that you've got a vanity 800 number in the ad for your church, but what happens if an elderly grandmother is off by 1 digit? Does it go through to the pornographer? Oops!
  7. Making the brochure the exact size as the envelope: Early in my career, a designer designed a poster that folded up to the exact dimensions of the envelope. That meant the poster didn't actually fit in the envelope. An experienced designer knows that the piece that goes inside the envelope should be smaller than the envelope, not the exact same size!
  8. Forgetting to weigh the premium item for shipping costs: Linda Lindsey reminded us of this one, too. If your premium item is heavy and you're mailing thousands, you can blow an entire marketing budget in just one mailing. Not that Linda did that or anything. But she could have!
  9. Underestimating shipping time: Back in the days when ad agencies physically shipped materials to magazines, I had to ship materials for a CNN ad to Singapore. I figured we'd just overnight it, right? Wrong! Singapore (at the time) quarantined all in-bound packages for several days.
  10. Not running a small test prior to launch: Big companies run extensive tests before launching a new product. You may not have that kind of budget, but you should find a way to test-market a product before spending time and money on a launch. (Thanks Robert Clay, for this great suggestion, too.)
  11. Not building enough time into your project for unexpected delays: Imagine if you had so many delays that the mailing went out the day of the event. We aren't naming names here, but one member of the 60 Second Marketer community had that exact problem happen to her!
  12. Ignoring new technology: There are a lot of people who are so frightened of new things (like social media) that they'd rather hide under a rock than use them to grow their sales and revenue. We know who you are. Don't be afraid. In fact, if you want to learn about new stuff like social media, just check out our instant online seminar on the topic called How to Use YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to Grow Your Sales and Revenue.
  13. Taking yourself too seriously: Have you ever seen marketing materials that sound like they're written by a committee? That's a sign of a company taking itself too seriously. When that happens, the consumer tunes out. Relax. Have some fun.
  14. Not speaking like a human being: This is a version of the problem above. People don't live in a world of "benefits" and "features." Seriously, they don't, despite what you've been taught. They live in a world where someone says "Hey, have you heard about this cool, new iPhone app that can save you money?" That's the way you should talk to your customer.
  15. Not measuring your results: It's so darn easy these days to include a response mechanism in every piece you create. Why isn't everyone doing it?
  16. Not setting realistic goals: Want to know how to make your marketing budget disappear next year? Go into the CFO and the CEO and say "This campaign is going to blow away anything we've ever done before!" Then just sit back and watch as your campaign performs just about as well as it always does. The lesson: Keep expectations managed.
  17. Not trusting experts: The reason someone is an expert is because they have experience in a field. This article by Harold Becker tells the story of a client who blew $500,000 on a poorly-executed advertising campaign.
Those are just thought-starters on the most common mistakes marketers make. What have we missed? What other mistakes can you think of that should be shared with our readers? Let us know and we'll add to the list. Posted by Jamie Turner, Chief Content Officer, the 60 Second Marketer, the online magazine for BKV Digital and Direct Response