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7 Worst Marketing Decisions [With Examples] You Can Make

Marketing is vital for any company; this department is in charge of external communication and the impression that the public may have about the brand. Therefore, the work done in this sector depends on how customers relate to the product or services offered. Being an area of such importance, it is essential that you learn to manage it properly and a good way to know what to do is to know the worst marketing decisions made by large companies, so I invite you to read on.

The 7 Worst Marketing Decisions You Can Make

What do you need to know to have a successful marketing campaign?

Marketing involves knowledge of various disciplines, from psychology to management, so having a complete notion of everything you need without having studied this subject is very difficult. However, there are some basic aspects that you can take into account.

So that you do not make some of the advertising mistakes of big brands that will be shown below, take into account these recommendations.

  • Consider your customers’ opinions: One of the worst marketing decisions you can make is to ignore what your current customers think. While it’s fine to target new markets, you should evaluate what your current audience likes and how they may react to changes.
  • Review messages several times before publishing them: you have probably seen advertising campaigns that you do not know how they got there, this happens frequently and sometimes a campaign may seem excellent, but after reviewing it several times with the help of a team, you will notice certain elements that may not be very well received.
  • Use a clear message: sometimes your campaign may have certain errors or elements that can be interpreted in a different way, but if you make your message concise enough, the audience can ignore this. Making the message excessively clear will help you avoid misunderstandings with your potential customers.
  • Do market research: a mistake that even big companies make is not knowing who they are talking to in their campaigns, which has led to the worst marketing decisions on their part. Doing a good market study will help you to know the interests of your target audience, how to speak to them more effectively and what elements you can use to get their attention.
  • Take into account the company’s philosophy: every campaign you carry out transmits a message to the public, if this is not aligned with the image you want to convey, it can be counterproductive. Using your company’s values in each campaign gives it more relevance and makes it easy to relate it to the brand.
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7 Examples Of Marketing Decisions You Should Not Make

Marketing is a complex field where ignoring small elements can have a big impact, which is why even big companies have made huge mistakes that have cost them a lot of time and money to correct. So to help you keep in mind some ideas of bad marketing and examples of what not to do with your organization, here is a list of the worst marketing decisions made by well-known brands.

1. Not taking your target market into account – Indio Beer

Any well-made marketing strategy must have a defined target audience, when this is in mind it is important to consider how the message will be received by that sector and whether the campaign’s objective will be achieved. When people from the target group are not incorporated into the advertising, the message can get lost and even become misunderstood.

In 2018, the brand Cerveza Indio decided to run a campaign whose slogan was “Proudly Indio”, where different content creators would use products of the brand with the word “Pinche” crossed out and “Proudly Indio” written underneath. This could be a good idea for the brand, it coincides with its philosophy, with its image and it is a slogan that can be easy to remember, so in the theoretical aspect it was a good campaign.

The problem lies in the people who were the image of the campaign, since they selected purely white and Caucasian people. Besides, the campaign was focused on Mexico, a country where the colored population is not predominant. Thus, an anti-racist message with a slogan that could have worked ended up giving a completely opposite image and causing one of the worst possible marketing decisions, bringing big problems to the brand.

2. Making sudden product changes – New Coke

The marketing work plays a lot with the consumer’s trust, it is necessary to generate a bond where the buyer feels comfortable and knows what to expect from the brand. So, by working so hard on creating an image, transmitting trust and instilling a feeling, making sudden changes to products can be extremely counterproductive.

In 1983 Coca Cola had a reduction in sales of almost 50% compared to its status 30 years earlier, so they decided to make a change to the formula. They did a lot of market research, and hundreds of thousands of consumers participated in the studies conducted by the company and accepted the change. However, after putting New Coke on the market, a new edition with a different formula intended to replace its star product, public dissatisfaction soon followed.

After only 79 days, the company started working again with its original formula and began selling both its old formula and New Coke. These abrupt changes do not please the public, as there is a relationship with the product and there is a bond that has been created over time, marketing efforts and experiences related to the product. So having a product that has been on the market for so many years, making sudden changes may not make a very good impression, especially on regular customers.

Marketing strategies!
Marketing strategies!

3. Replicating sales strategies without evaluating their impact – American Airlines

There are certain practices that are incorporated in a large number of businesses because they work and because they manage to attract a large number of customers. However, there are offers or promotions that may work as a marketing strategy for some companies but are not profitable for others. You should take this into account before incorporating new sales ideas if you don’t want to end up making some of the worst marketing decisions, which can cost you thousands.

In 1981, American Airlines wanted to implement a package where they offered first-class travel for life, all for only $250,000. The idea of profitability came from the average number of flights per year their customers had, so they thought it would be beneficial. After a while they noticed that their estimates were not correct and that there was no profit in these packages, instead, they were losing money.

This led to multiple lawsuits against the company when they wanted to eliminate the A’Airpass, resulting in huge losses and a huge image problem with their customers. Because of this, you must thoroughly evaluate the profitability or benefit of any campaign you want to do, in order to avoid legal repercussions or repercussions with your customers.

4. Trivializing social issues – Pepsi

Incorporating topical elements to make an advertisement feel more realistic or in line with the time of its launch is a common practice. You can use all kinds of milestones, but in certain contexts or with certain themes you must be very careful not to make your audience uncomfortable or convey a message that is not what you want.

An excellent example of this is the Pepsi campaign of 2017, where some protests are observed and Kylie Jenner appears to be part of them, the commercial ends when the model gives a can of Pepsi to one of the officers in charge of repressing the protest. The idea might seem functional at first, since it has an appropriate philosophy, a nice message, and the product is visualized, however, it was highly criticized.

You are probably wondering why this is one of the worst marketing decisions because the failure was mainly due to two things: the timing of the launch and the handling of the idea. This video was released when there were a series of protests related to #BlackLivesMatter and at the same time the video did not represent the seriousness of a real social issue that deserves a solution. This caused that only moments after its publication, PepsiCo issued a statement apologizing for the commercial.

5. Making fun of the customer and not with the customer – Vodafone

Humor is an excellent tool to sell, but poorly implemented it can lead to scenarios like the one Vodafone did a few years ago. The objective of their ad was simple, to announce that they were eliminating roaming and they wanted to do so by showing a group of Spanish girls arriving in the United States.

The video shows how the girls are unable to turn off mobile data and are anxious to avoid the additional costs that roaming can cause. With this simple premise, the advert makes fun of the situation until it arrives.

The ad makes a mockery of the situation until one of the girls throws her cell phone into the water to avoid roaming charges. It didn’t take long for the ad to be criticized as sexist and considered one of the worst marketing decisions for the way it was carried out.

6. Misusing stereotypes – Dolce & Gabbana

Marketing takes advantage of stereotypes to some extent, in order to know what to offer in their ads or how to carry out an idea. This is not usually problematic if done well, some stereotypes that are used can be using muscular men when selling beers while showing somewhat more refined men when selling expensive perfumes. However, if you don’t take into account the whole context of advertising and how it can be interpreted by certain social groups you can have problems like Dolce & Gabbana.

A few years ago, to promote a series of fashion shows in China, the company launched 3 videos, in which an Asian girl is shown trying to eat different Italian food dishes with chopsticks. The videos show the girl eating clumsily and laughing excessively, this unleashed a great rejection by people of this ethnic group, which led to demonstrations and videos throwing the clothes of this brand in the trash with chopsticks.

So much was the repercussion, that they had to discard the line they were about to sell and suspend the parade, all for making the worst marketing decisions in a context they did not master.

7. Initiating an unannounced image change – Gap

When you work on designing a business identity, you put a lot of effort into making the public relate to images, phrases, and a philosophy. While you can make changes, they must be gradual, share them with your customers and still allow them to identify you. So, any rebranding should be done with small, incremental changes and inspect the public’s reaction.

In 2010 Gap wanted to change its logo, opting for a more current design and in line with the trends of the moment. Although it was a good change, it made it difficult for their audience to identify them, and it was sudden, which did not give time for the public to adapt. This caused endless complaints with the company, until they reached the point of using the previous logo again only 7 days later, claiming that it was some kind of joke. Keep in mind especially these marketing problems as examples of what to avoid in situations as essential as this one.

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Consequences of a bad marketing campaign

  • You lose credibility: the biggest impact that companies that have made the worst marketing decisions shown above had was not economic but with their customers. Because after these problems, you have to work again on their trust and they will still be more suspicious of your brand for a long time.
  • It affects your identity: all the marketing work helps you to create an image in the minds of your customers, bad advertising also achieves this effect, only that the perspective it creates is negative. This hinders your communication efforts and makes it difficult for your branding to be successful.
  • You lose money: in most cases, bad advertising translates into lower sales, loss of merchandise, or extra work to launch a new campaign quickly. So even in terms of finances, it is not profitable to have bad advertising.
  • You win legal problems: it doesn’t happen in all cases but when you have to withdraw packages or products from the market for making some of the worst possible marketing decisions, you risk lawsuits. Further increasing the possible consequences for your company of mishandled advertising.
  • Damages your brand value: if you have experience in marketing, you will know that the customer may pay more for a product if they believe your company is worth it, as this can change with a bad campaign. If your customer no longer has the same image of your company, placing an additional cost on your products will be difficult and this will be one of the most difficult consequences of bad marketing, so be careful.
  • It favors the competition: if you have direct competition in your sector, bad publicity is your moment to stand out in the market, which makes the process of recovering from these incidents even more difficult. However, you should know that there are certain actions that can help you recover from even the worst marketing decisions.

What to do when your campaign does not go as expected?

  • Identify the problem fast: nothing is worse for a brand after having made the worst marketing decisions than reacting to an image problem weeks or months later, which gives customers too much time to think about it and increases indignation about it. So you need quick action, preferably as soon as the problem starts.
  • Offer apologies: it is easier to solve this type of problem from a more friendly position with the public, even when the target may be wrong and misinterpreted the advertising. In order to find solutions to marketing problems, it is better to apologize in time to the affected people or social groups before initiating any action to recover.
  • Make changes: depending on the problem caused by the advertisement, you should make changes in your company and share them. An advertisement that can be classified as discriminating must cause changes in the company where everyone can see that there was a reflection on the issue and that it will not happen again.
  • Reduce expenses and seek solutions: if it is a big problem, you are facing a crisis, so you need to reduce unnecessary expenses in your company and focus all your efforts on getting back to normal.
  • Plan a new campaign: when you have made some of the worst marketing decisions of your career you need to work again with the target most affected by your message, not ignoring the problem and trying to regain their trust. It is vital that this advertising is not focused on a product per se, but on the customer’s experience and how you intend to correct the problem.
  • Give time: This will not be forgotten overnight, just like an argument with a friend or a partner. You need to give some time for the public outrage to subside, this may reduce your business activity for a short period, but it will prevent a complaint from flaring up again.

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