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21 Reasons You’ll Fail at Marketing

I don’t know what it is about Marketing, but everyone on earth seems to think they can do it. And yet I see so many people NOT doing it or wasting thousands of dollars and not getting results.  I see business owners try the same things over and over, small businesses fail at marketing wasting more money, more time, and more energy. If I had 1/10th of what business owners waste on stuff that doesn’t work, I’d be the most successful marketing consultant on the planet.  But I’m not because so many business owners would rather go it alone and fail over and over again rather than reach out and get professional help. I don’t get it.

I know there are those out there who will always try to do it themselves so in the spirit of not getting it, here are 21 ways to fail at marketing:

  1. Guess – Great marketing isn’t an accident. It takes research, educated decisions, testing, tracking and measuring. Guesswork will leave you customer-less and broke.
  2. Do what everyone else is doing– Every business is different and your marketing mix should be too.  Following the crowd isn’t going to help you stand out from the competition!
  3. Listen to sales people Marketing is a long term strategy, not a special advertisement, publication, or website; but every sales rep you come in contact with will try to convince you otherwise. Marketing is a process, there is no magic pill and don’t let a slick sales person try to tell you there is.
  4. Don’t ask questions –Question EVERYTHING about your business and ask everyone you come into contact with as many questions as possible to learn, grow, and constantly improve.
  5. Do nothing – It’s simple, if you don’t Market your business, you will fail.
  6. Put all your eggs in one basket – Marketing is like investing, the more diversified your strategy, the better off you will be. Don’t invest all your time and resources in one medium or on one marketing tool – mix it up.
  7. Don’t track results – How the heck are you going to know what works and what doesn’t if you don’t track the results? If you’re not tracking you’re guessing, and we covered that in #1!
  8. Assume you have all the answers – Yes, I know: you know your business better than anyone. But do you know marketing?  I mean do you REALLY know how and where to reach potential customers and how to convince them to buy from you?
  9. Don’t talk to your customers – No one knows your value – or faults – better than the people who actually buy from you. Talk to your customers – often. It’ll provide valuable insight and ideas.
  10. Don’t study your competition– If you don’t know how you’re different from your competition how are potential customers supposed to? Knowing your competition’s strengths and weaknesses will help you differentiate.
  11. Don’t set goals –Goals keep us on track; they give us direction. Without them you’re wandering aimlessly and most likely wasting a lot of time and money.
  12. Don’t build an email list – I don’t understand how anyone can market a business in today’s world without an email list! Email is the easiest and most inexpensive way to stay in touch with customers and prospects.  If you aren’t building a list you’re missing out on huge opportunities.
  13. Don’t have an opt in form – Emailing current and past customers is a great start, but what about the people who visit your website, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn pages and then go away never to be heard from again? Wouldn’t’ it be nice to engage the serious window shoppers in some way? An opt-in form is the way to do it!
  14. Sell all the time.  We’ve all met the slick schmoozy salesy types, right? And how long does it take you to high-tail it in the opposite direction? Don’t be one of those. An effective marketing strategy eliminates the need to sell all the time… really!
  15. Assume because you have a great product or service you don’t need a marketing strategy – Sure, some products and services might market themselves, but that’s rare. Real marketing success takes strategy, planning, and work.
  16. Assume that just because you have a good product or service you don’t need a referral system– Again, there are some products and services that people just love to talk about, but building a successful business solely on organic referrals and “buzz” is rare.  Getting solid referrals, consistently takes solid planning and execution. .
  17. Assume anyone with a pulse is your client- Repeat after me:  “NOT everyone is a potential client for me”. Now look in the mirror and repeat that every day! Find your niche – that segment of the population you are born to serve and you will uncover a gold mine!
  18. Don’t build relationships – I can’t stress enough how important this is. Hiding behind your computer screen, desk, or counter isn’t going to get you the level of success you want. You have to get out there – mingle, be helpful, connect people, and build relationships with the right people!
  19. Spend all your time networking in the wrong places –Not every networking group is right for you. Find the ones that will help you get where you want to go and avoid the ones that won’t.
  20. Ignore the internet – Facebook and Twitter may not be right for your business, but chances are your target market is going somewhere on line for information about your product or service.  Your job is to find out where they’re going and be there!
  21. Don’t hire a professional- If you want to build an addition onto your home would you do it yourself or hire a professional?  I mean, you know your home better than anyone, right? So why not do it yourself? Ridiculous, right? So then why would you try to “add on” – or grow – your business yourself?  Hire a professional who has the right tools and knows the ins and outs of growing a business.

So what do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
 Want to share?? Please do! Leave your comments here.


By the way, if you liked this post, I’d really appreciate your Retweet!!! Thank you. :-)

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19 Responses

  1. Laura Mitchell

    I have a home-based cleaning business. I don’t have a lot of customers. I need to hire a professional, but I don’t have enough money. I started my business from scratch. If you have some advice that will help me, please email the information to me.

    1. Carolyn

      Hi Laura,

      There is a lot of free advice and resources on my website. Check out I also offer a free report and a newsletter – both full of free tips for small business owners like you. You can get the report and sign up for the newsletter here:

      I will also be doing a free webinar in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for that. I always give tons of tips an ideas for business. Best of luck to you, Carolyn

  2. Carolyn,

    Yes, it’s way easier to preach than practice (as I’m sure my husband and 5 year old can attest to!) Like Barbara, I’ve had wonderful success with SCORE and the SBDC (Small Business Development Center), which have provided invaluable advice, encouragement and guidance.

  3. I don’t know even a tiny speck about marketing. What I do is develop or improve an existing ‘food’ product (family recipe, brand new idea to a product). There are several products I assisted my clients to bring it ‘commercial’ production. Some are very successful than others.
    Your views are right ON. I started my business in 1997 after 25 yrs with one major food company in R&D. I am having lot of fun in meeting client expectations but not in Marketing their product.
    I will refer this to them for follow up if they choose to do so.


    1. Carolyn


      First off – thank you for writing your nickname in parenthesis, I was sure to misspell your real name! :-)

      Awesome, glad to hear you have some place to refer your clients if they need Marketing help! You can also get more help and even free weekly tips on my website at:

      Thank you for the comment and congratulations on your success!


  4. Antwannette

    I learned a lot from this segment. This information is so helpful as i am in m research stage of starting a business. Thank You.

    1. Carolyn


      Go out and get dirty!! The hard stuff requires rolling up our sleeves a bit, doesn’t it? Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it! Have fun and good luck! – Carolyn

  5. Isaac G.S Jones

    Your 21 point on marketing was inspirational and I’ve learnt a lot from the issues raised.Really I should admit I have been taking quite a lot of them for granted.

    Thanks for your contribution.

    1. Carolyn


      Thank you!!! It is always so nice to know that my posts have inspired someone. I really appreciate that. Good luck – I wish you lots of success!


  6. I have had wonderful mentoring with my SCORE team of business people. I can’t praise them enough for helping me realize my dream. Ask for a mentor, SCORE groups are everywhere and on-line.

  7. Hi Carolyn,

    This is a great post because it addresses things that entrepreneurs and small business owners are notorious for doing. I have my own PR business, which provides services to creative, independent, and “kitchen table” entrepreneurs and preach these same things, yet I’m also guilty of a few!

    Thanks for the invaluable reminder!


    1. Carolyn

      Hi Robin,
      I think we’re all guilty of at least a few – myself included! – It’s so much easier to preach it than practice it, isn’t it?? Thank you for your comment, I wish you the best!


  8. I like the things your talked about on this page I’ve been trying to get my online business going I fell like I,m in a ocean in a row boat with no ores the people how got me seat up sed I would have someone to help me for a mounth but someone called me one time and then someone called and just wonted to sell me more and same i told him some is supost to be helping but his has’nt called i need help but he did’nt wont to talk about it and so i never got help just a very pushy sales man and i’m stell lost with no help and dont know where to turn i’ve lost alot of money and i have no custumer

    1. Carolyn

      Hi Debbie,

      Thank you for the comment. I hope this post was helpful to you and you will be able to find the right marketing mix that works for your business! – Carolyn

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