Over the years, I’ve seen some incredibly successful marketing campaigns and some pretty dismal ones. Two questions I’m continually asked are: “What works?” and, conversely, “What doesn’t?”

My answer is usually something along the lines of “It depends,” which is usually followed by the ubiquitous blank stare… Sorry, but it’s the truth.

I can’t give you one sure-fire solution for marketing success. And no credible marketer/branding agent/advertising professional worth their salt would offer you a blanket success solution like that.

But, from experience, I can point out some marketing foibles and pitfalls you should avoid… And being “The Brand Chef,” they’re provided in a rewarding baker’s dozen for easy consumption.


  1. Not “Speaking the audience’s language” — What the heck does “improved focal resolution and light reciprocity control” mean? I just want a better lens for my camera.
  2. Holding on to the “If you build it, they will come” misconception — If you have a brilliant product/service, you’ll probably need to let someone know about it… (Darn that Kevin Costner)
  3. Misunderstanding the target audience — A direct mail campaign for your new accounting software is being sent to the human resources department? C’mon.
  4. Not being truthful to your brand — The truth shall set you free… If you can do it, make it painfully obvious to everyone. Conversely, if you can’t do it, it will be painfully obvious.
  5. Marketing function over benefit — It’s not about what you can do. It’s about what you can do FOR ME!
  6. Not providing a compelling “Call to action” — Fact sheets, outlines, data and the sort won’t make me WANT your product or service. Give me a reason to WANT.
  7. Not positioning your brand as Unique — If you don’t make it clear how you’re different, then you’re just a commodity and I’ll shop based on price.
  8. Not targeting the decision-makerSee #3… The HR manager may LOVE the software, but who cares?
  9. Underestimating the resources needed for an effective campaign — I hate it, but the old adage “It takes money to make money” is true. Your investment in your marketing should reflect your expectations… Which leads to #10…
  10. Unrealistic expectations — If you have a champagne and caviar dreams, you’d better not use a beer and pretzels budget.
  11. Not tracking results with the expectation of making changes based on the findings — Research, plan, apply, follow-up, research again… If you’re not changing with the program, then you’re standing still.
  12. Not having a defined plan — Don’t take the journey unless you have a map. Otherwise, guaranteed, you’re going to get lost.
  13. Trying to “Do It Yourself” — I don’t do my own dental work, so why do some companies insist on doing their own marketing? For God’s sake, trust the professionals.

While the above points just scratch the surface; by avoiding these pitfalls, you’ll be well on your way to making wiser, more deliberate marketing and communications decisions. Sure, your base ingredients should remain the same. TRUE. If you have a recipe based on True, Relevant, Unique and Engaging criteria, the rest of the ingredients can be folded in to create marketing and communications efforts that garner TRUE results.

Bon Appétit

Keep Cooking!
Andrew B. Clark
– The Brand Chef

  1. Not only are these great insights, but I LOVE that you made a list of 13, the baker’s dozen.

    That’s what I expect from the Brand Chef.

    Nice branding!

  2. Thanks Paul! I thought the typical “top 10” was a bit narrow… and in all actuality, I had about 20… So, I thought the Baker’s Dozen made perfect sense… Brief yet branded…

    Thanks for stopping by the kitchen!

    Keep cooking