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At some point in your career, you must have made a dumb marketing mistake. Tell me I can't be the only one. You know what I mean---something you overlooked or got away from you, and you just didn't catch it. You may have swept it under the carpet, and no one noticed. Lucky. But who's going to be bothered by it the most? We are!

So, here's my true confession.  I recently wrote and developed a direct mail postcard targeting two segments. I pored over the copy until I thought the messaging would be persuasive and factual. I spent hours laying out the design to grab attention while making the most of our brand colors and the limited space.  And then it went to our trade printer and mail house.

After it dropped and I received my own copy, I realized what I had done. As Homer Simpson would say if he were my partner, "D'OH!"

I hate it when I notice the most obvious boo-boo after the fact. No matter who proofread my piece, it would have taken another marketer to pick up on my mistake. And a few simple words will likely make the difference between people calling us---or not.

We're marketing customized pre-designed and graphic-designed holiday cards. Realizing that packaging/bundling has been de rigeur in marketing these days, we created an affordable custom package that included graphic design, a choice of stock images or an image the client provides, printing them on 14-pt card stock with a printed return address on the matching envelope. Clients can have the cards scored and delivered to their doors for signing and mailing, or we can insert their electronic signatures, insert the cards into envelopes and mail them from our trade mail house at reduced bulk rates. Innocent enough, right?

Here's where I screwed up. The most expensive option is to order a small quantity of 250, in which case, the cost of a custom-designed card and envelope set would be around $2.06. Prices go DOWN from there. The more people order, the cheaper the unit price. Duh. At 5,000 cards, for example, the unit cost per card/envelope would be less than 30 cents! So, what did I say in the copy?

"Custom prices start at just $2.06/card and envelope set."

Oh, no! Do I have a self-destructive thing going? I beat myself up for two days after that!

So, why am I embarrassing myself and sharing this story with you? Because, chances are that you've had a similar experience.  Somewhere in the recesses of your past, you did a dumb thing. We're all human---no matter how good we are as marketers. And it was cathartic for me to share this. Was it good for you?

Your turn. Come clean. What's the biggest marketing boo-boo story you can share with the rest of us?

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image of Elaine Fogel

Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel