The Number#1 Marketing Mistake

By: Shama Hyder

Recently, I have been on a networking spree. I have been attending one networking meet after another. It’s been wonderful to hear people’s stories and learn about their businesses. However, I am truly shocked by how little people know about marketing. 80% of the people I met could not truly articulate what it is that  they did. And 95% of the people I met made the number # 1 marketing mistake in my book-

They Jumped the Gun!

That’s the American way of saying they rushed into their pitch.

Here is an example:

Sally– Hi, I am Sally. I am a consultant.

Me– Hi Sally. Nice to meet you. What kind of consultant are you?

Sally– I help businesses.

Me– That’s great. How do you help them?

Sally-Oh, with whatever they need really.

Me- (thinking to myself)-Does she clean offices? I doubt it.

Sally-What do you do?

Me– I help independent professionals who are struggling to attract more clients.

Sally– That’s wonderful. I think I could help you. When can you get together? I would love to tell you all about my business.

Business relationships are a lot like personal relationships. You can’t rush into anything. If you go too fast, you will scare the other person away. Most people think that business is done this way:


But that’s wrong.

Business is actually done this way:

Meet–>Connect–>Build Trust–>Share an Experience—>Sell.

If you are thinking "But Shama, that would take forever," think again.

The 5 steps above can be done in a matter of days, but a successful sale needs to follow that order. The bottom line when it comes to selling is- friends buy from friends. If you aren’t making friends, you aren’t selling.

The BEST selling advice I can give you is to SLOW down. You want them as a client. You know you can help. You are just itching to jump on board and save the day. Still, slow down. You have a better chance of getting the client if you do.

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  • Paul Chaney

    I agree with your surmise, Shama. What’s worse, I’m seeing this happen on Facebook. Old school marketing meets new media, but doesn’t learn the lesson, “It’s the relationship, stupid!”

    Don’t pitch me until you get to know me. As you said, meet me, let’s build a relationship that fosters trust, have a beer together, then and only then, make your pitch.

  • Shama

    Hi Paul,

    You got it!

    No matter what the platform, you still have to build the relationship.

    Thanks for commenting. = )

  • Alice

    I recently went to a networking event where there was five graphic designers as well as me. Great, I thought, not much of a chance for me to get business here. So I just stopped selling myself.

    There was this woman there starting her business and looking for someone to design her brochures. As you would expect, the other graphic designers zoomed onto her like bees around a honey-pot. What did I do? Wait until they were finished, and then approached her in a friendly way to find out what her business was about. No mentioning of me being a graphic designer, just as a woman who was interested in her and her business.

    I then asked her about what networking she was doing? Of course she was new and didn’t know of much about this. I then reeled off a number of women’s networking groups that were in the area (best to break her in gently) and suggested we went together to the next one. Just emphasised it would be easier to network if you already knew a friendly face there.

    She only found out I was a graphic designer when we exchanged cards for telephone numbers. I followed up with friendly, non-committal emails reminding her of the networking events, and once I’ve got her undivided attention at the next group then I can get on with the business of gaining her trust. How? By wowing her with lots of marketing tips and expert advice.

    After several meetings then I hope she will approach me to do her brochures, not one of the other graphic designers who bombarded her at that initial meeting. You have to be prepared for the long term approach – short, sharp shocks do not work!

  • Mia

    You are so right, Shama.

    It is so effective when someone comes along using subtly and restraint in their marketing attempts. It speaks volumes about their character and makes me more inclined to find out who/what/where.

    Back in the day when I was single and living the life in LA, I remember reading a book called, “The Rules.”

    I will never forget one of the cardinal rules listed in the book, “Don’t try to get a man’s attention. If he ain’t lookin’, he’s not interested.”

    This can easily be applied to this topic (okay, well…I’ll make it apply).

    If you are fulfilled and happy, it comes across and people want to know more about you. If you are desperate and jumping up and down in the corner trying to get attention, chances are you’ll repel any interest that comes your way.

    I am always telling my clients to slow down and do things right before presenting it to the masses. Personally, I don’t like it when people cut corners. It reveals a lot!

    I appreciate your insight.

    p.s. Here’s a link to the rule I was quoting. Gee, they have changed them around a bit since I last referenced their material (14 years ago! Yikes!!).

  • Shama


    You worked on building trust and that will always pay off. Even if she doesn’t choose you to do design (unlikely), you will always be on her mind.


    That’s so funny! The rules. = ) Thank you for sharing.

  • Andrea Stenberg

    I completely agree about “jumping the gun”. Networking is like dating; you wouldn’t go up to a stranger at a party and plant a big juicy kiss on their lips. You need to get to know them first.

    Trying to sell your product or service before you get to know someone is just like kissing a stranger.

    Great post.


  • The Baldchemist

    The point about cold calls is ; know what your punter does and what needs they might have before you call.
    There is an art in cold call pitches that very few have mastered.
    But if you want an intriguing “elevator pitch”, try the one we use, “arresting the human intelligence long enough for it to act positvely to your business objectives”
    Then give the punter your card and leave. I guarantee that 80% will at least take a look at your site. Just make sure that your site or follow up pitch meets your statement. Good Luck to you all. The Baldchemist

  • The Baldchemist

    Oh by the way: master the art of the “take away”. The Baldchemist.

  • Aaron Cruikshank

    Great post. I have had a few problems with this lately – especially from students that I meet that are looking for jobs. I tell them that I’d be interested in keeping in touch with them and that I might be able to find something for them to do at some stage and they jump all over me, send me their resumes immediately and start asking for work 24 hours later.

    I think I’m being pretty clear that I can’t hire them myself but t that I might be able to help them find a job. They always seem to gloss over that part. It’s annoying.

  • Shama

    BaldChemist- Very intriguing! Great example. Now, I will have to check out your site!

    Aaron- = ) I can imagine lots of excited new graduates drowning you in resumes. What can I say, consulting is hot? ; )
    Perhaps after you meet them, you can send them to this blog post. “Read before emailing Aaron.”

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