Have You Made This Dumb Marketing Mistake?

Ford Edsel

Image by Supermac1961 via Flickr

Long ago (OK, it wasn’t the first, or the last, time) I made a dumb marketing mistake.  I was reminded of it recently, and thought I’d share.

I had just gotten promoted to a brand-new job (yay!).  We were doing a direct marketing campaign for some training products (a video and training manual).  I don’t remember how much it cost, but let’s call it $200. While we were putting the package together, my boss (also new), said, “Hey, we’ve also got a book (which cost $14) about that, let’s throw that in too.”  So I did.

A casual suggestion leads to a big problem

At first, we thought we were doing well. The list was good and the copy was convincing. Our sales started streaming in.  It should have been a great success.  There was only one problem. And, it was a big one.

People went straight for the $14 book and virtually ignored the $200 training video.  We sold plenty of books, but almost no videos.  Oops.

Unfortunately, I had (in a way) done my job both too well and not well at all.  I successfully sold the material, but didn’t do enough to differentiate the book from the video.  Since they both seemed like equally good choices, people bought the book because it cost less.

If there’s a cheaper option, or too many options, it will confuse people, dilute the value of your higher-priced product, and reduce your earnings.

One thing at a time

Don’t try to sell several things at once.  Ever watch an infomercial or direct TV ad (think sham-wow or slap-chopper), or even QVC?  They sell one thing at a time. They give reasons to buy it. They tell you the price.  And ask for the sale.  They never try to sell the $10 sham-wow and the $15 chopper in the same ad.

One good thing though – at least I wasn’t trying to sell an Edsel.

4 thoughts on “Have You Made This Dumb Marketing Mistake?

  1. LOL!

    Nice one, Jodi.

    I love the very simple and poignant lesson in this blog post.
    Keep the main thing the main thing.

    This is applicable in Marketing… and also in goal setting. And daily productivity.

    My main mission for goal getting in 2011 is simplification.
    No more massive to-do lists… that grow longer by the day.

    I keep the same very short list of 6 projects, day-in, day-out.

    I try to keep the main thing the main thing.

    Thanks for a funny and very relevant post.

    Looking forward to our interview, Jodi!


    • I think a long to-do list just shuts down your brain – it’s too overwhelming. If I have longer-term tasks and want to remember them, I write them on a whiteboard near my desk. The daily stuff goes on a separate sheet of paper – and gets crossed off as I go along. Sometimes, if something new comes up, I’ll write it down on the list just so I can cross it off!

  2. Jodi, where were you with this advice like 10 years ago??? 🙁


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