50 years young

How to avoid being a bad marketer


“I wish when I get to 50 I could write a blog post all about marketing….”

Struggling to understand who your customer actually is?...and what motivates them?
Use this FREE Customer Avatar Worksheet to develop your marketing activities with a specific person in mind and ensure you know what to say and where to say it - Download it now!

 I turn 50 today (born on the 30th June 1972)…

I’m trying not to think too much about the implications (50 years is a looong time) and keep telling myself that I’m in reasonably good shape for a 50 year old.

(OK, so my hair went (a long time ago), but I feel that this “de-ages” me a bit…
at least that’s what I keep telling myself.)

Interestingly, my 50th Birthday means I’ve been involved in some form of Marketing for nearly 32 years. I went to University at 18 years on a Marketing degree and have never looked back, working in both Agencies and Clients, and seeing the transformation of marketing from a purely offline environment to an ‘almost’ purely online status.

Pretty much all of the stuff I learnt as part of my marketing degree is irrelevant now – and it’s fair to say that having been self employed over the last 11 years, I’ve learnt more about what marketing truly is in this time, then I ever did at University.

I’ve also become a bit more intolerant of bad marketing during this time, to the point now where one of my driving visions is to help ensure that businesses stop wasting time, money and energy on poorly designed, poorly planned and poorly executed marketing campaigns.
…and so to coincide with my 50 years, I thought I’d identify 5 of the most heinous and horrid mistakes I see all the time from marketers (one for each 10 years of my existence – not sure you want and would benefit from 50 of them!!!).

My hope is that you find these useful and they are a guide to ensure your marketing is up to scratch – They are all important if you want to get more from the time, money and energy you invest in marketing.

Mistake #1 – Why am I seeing this?

One of my biggest frustrations is when I receive some sort of marketing for a product/service that I’d never buy in a million years.

Show me adverts on the latest golf gadget… I’m there…
Send me an email inviting me to go to a singles event… not so much.

For me, the most important word in marketing, is relevance. The more relevant you are, the more likely you’ll get a good response (and the less likely you’ll be wasting your time and money).

Being relevant is 100% at the core of great marketing.

Whether it’s relevance to whether I’d be interested in the product… or relevance taking into account where I am in the relationship with the product service (e.g. don’t ask me to do a trial if I’m already a user… and don’t ask me for a review if I’ve never used the product).
Relevance is king.

Of course, to be relevant requires the ability to capture information about how people interact with your product/service (in an ethical manner) – and thus great marketers understand the importance of managing and using data.

If you’re not thinking about your target market or not thinking about the nature of your relationship with them, you’re not only being a lazy marketer, but you are wasting time and money.

Number 1 rule of marketing – Be Relevant.

Mistake #2 – Media over Message

A long time ago in a training session for a well know UK entrepreneur trainer, I picked up a phrase that I refer back to again, and again.

Market, Message, Media

This is the order you need to consider when deciding your marketing activity.
…and yet so many people seem to get sucked in to the media first.

Yes, TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, Clubhouse (remember that!) are all potentially really good ways of communicating with people – but just because they are there, doesn’t mean you have to use them!

Your first thought should always be with your Market… who are you speaking to… before you consider the best place to do this – because if you’re market is “silver surfers”, I’m not sure you’ll be finding them on TikTok.

By knowing your market, who they are, but just as importantly where they hang out, you’ll be better situated to pick the right media for your message.

Personally, I think email is an amazing tool – but that doesn’t automatically mean it’s right for your audience – think about your market before you consider anything else.

Mistake #3 – Marketing on Autopilot

Working with businesses of all sizes over the last few years has given me an insight into how choices are made when it comes to marketing expenditure (both time and money), and it still shocks me how many businesses are stuck on autopilot.

When a business is stuck on autopilot, they just keep doing the same thing again and again without any thought of whether it’s working or not, and no feedback loops.

They say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”… but since they’re going through the motions and aren’t checking performance as they go along, they’ve no idea if it’s broken or not.

Email marketing is (unfortunately) a classic area for this.

The “newsletter” or “update” that gets sent regularly, which is supposedly for the audience, but in reality is just an opportunity for the sending business to pat itself on the back for what it’s done.


Part of the reason email marketing is so great is that you can track performance – and improve it. So why do so many businesses not track or look at changing things up?

Marketing on autopilot is lazy… your customers deserves better.

(and don’t get me started on the “I do it because everyone else does it”… that’s autopilot marketing on steroids!!!)

Mistake #4 – No Ownership or Responsibility

…bit of a left field one here, but it’s something I truly believe in and see many struggling because of a lack of understanding about it.

Marketing is not something you can abdicate to someone else. It’s not something you can wholesale “contract out” to agencies and others.

Marketing is a core function of your business, and as such is something you need to be actively involved in.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get agencies and the like to help you with the planning and strategy. It doesn’t mean you can’t get someone to do the implementation for you.

…but handing off marketing to someone who isn’t a core part of your business means you are letting someone without a vested interest in your business drive a fundamental aspect of it .

Marketing is something that needs to  be driven by the business owner, and so ensuring you’re developing an understanding of good marketing strategy which you can use to be involved in your own marketing is an activity every business owner should be involved in.

Don’t fob it off on someone else – it’s something you should be doing or directing.

Mistake #5 – Not Having a System

My last mistake is one that is particularly close to my heart.

I’ve learnt over the years that there are fundamentally two types of marketer. They all have a core set of skills, but over that, they tend to fall into the ‘creative’ camp or the ‘systems’ camp.

Those in the creative camp are genius’s at coming up with ways of getting people to take action.

Whereas those in the systems camp specialise in working out what action they want people to take.

You need a blend of the two elements, but make no mistake, not having a system  for your marketing will undermine all your attempts to succeed.

Knowing ‘what happens next‘ for each element of your marketing means that your activity is positively moving towards a result.  Whether it’s getting someone to click on an advert, visit a web page, complete a form, click on an email, or put their credit card details in, knowing the next step in the journey and directing someone to take it as at the core of successful marketing.

Similar to those who work on autopilot, businesses who don’t have a clear idea of what their ‘process’ is, and push out communication which doesn’t support a “system” will find themselves struggling to succeed.

Plan a Customer Journey, know the steps, know what type of communication sits where… and what the next step in the journey is… and always have your eyes on the next step.

32 years involved in marketing is a long time, and I’ve seen an awful lot of good and bad marketing whilst on my own journey.

Hopefully some of these points will resonate with you and get you to readdress your own marketing efforts and hopefully develop some effective marketing for your own business.

Wasting time, money and energy on ineffective or wasteful marketing does you no favours and likely a step backwards, away from the right result.

And as I’m getting old now, I’m sure you don’t want me to see your efforts and have my blood pressure go up too much!

Are you an Agency or VA?
Click here to let us know and register for future Mailchimp training specifically designed for agencies and VA's just like you. 

Robin Adams

Robin Adams

The MailChimp Guy

The main man behind chimpanswers.com and the MailChimp Answers Facebook Group. What this man doesn't know about MailChimp...

Proficient in all things MailChimp, Marketing and Systems

Struggling to understand who your customer actually is?...and what motivates them?

Use this FREE Customer Avatar Worksheet to develop your marketing activities with a specific person in mind and ensure you know what to say and where to say it.

Download it now!

Challenge Us!

If you want someone to help you with your Mailchimp account, whether it's setting it up, reviving it or just keeping it ticking over, don't be shy.


  1. Darren Sussman


  2. Peter Baynes

    Brilliant blog, Happy Birthday!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Our Troop

Like this article? Subscribe now to receive free tips and resources on Mailchimp and marketing.

Your email will be managed in accordance with our privacy policy which you can view here. Unsubscribe at any time.

The Mailchimp Fundamentals

There are some things that are 'Fundamental' to doing Mailchimp the right way.

We call them 'The Fundies

Join the World's Biggest Mailchimp Community

The Mailchimp Answers Facebook group is the world's biggest Mailchimp community

Everyone has Questions

Understand the 10 most asked questions about Mailchimp... and get the answers to each of them.

A short video course with screen captures of the 10 most popular questions about Mailchimp.