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Avoid Costly Marketing Mistakes, Part 1

Business mistakes happen, but they don't have to happen to you. Here are the first four of eight marketing mistakes you need to avoid.

In virtually every area of business, entrepreneurs find pitfalls along the way. Marketing is no exception. Regardless of the industry, time and again owners of companies large and small make the same costly mistakes. Avoid these mistakes, and you'll save energy, disappointment-and a substantial amount of money:

1. Putting all your eggs in one basket. If you spend your entire marketing budget on just one method of promoting your business, you won't realize the highest return on your investment. Diversifying your efforts will increase the frequency and reach of your messages and stretch your marketing dollars.

2. Not measuring results. Measuring the results of your marketing efforts allows you to reinvest in vehicles that are working-and ditch those that aren't. Try tactics like surveys, coded coupons, in-store response cards or focus groups to find out how well your messages are being received.

3. Firing before you take aim. If you find yourself throwing money at every promotional opportunity, take a step back and realize the benefits of planning. Set objectives, define the audience you wish to reach and set your budget over the next six to 12 months. Once you have a plan, you'll realize the value of multiple advertising insertions, elimination of vendor rush charges and prevention of unwise purchasing decisions-like those 15,000 imprinted kitchen magnets that seemed like such a good idea at the time.

4. Eliminating marketing efforts when things get tight. When cash flow slows, advertising, direct mail and other forms of marketing are the easiest expenses to reduce, right? But cut these, and you eliminate the very activities that will bring in new customers to turn your business around. Keep your communication going, even when times get tough.

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