Top 3 Marketing Mistakes from History That Can Teach Internet Marketers a Thing (or Two)

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Marketing is surely the most complex, yet the crucial part of any business; and unlike many management techniques or strategies, you cannot imitate the marketing strategies of others – because what works for one, might not work for you, and what doesn’t work for others might start working for you. Businesses spend so much on marketing and innovation but even highly innovative and some of the most extravagant marketing plans will sometime, fall flat.

As if offline marketing wasn’t complex enough, and now internet marketing is also becoming a necessity, not only for online businesses but also for offline businesses that need to have an online presence.  Even though the basics stay the same, it opens an entirely new Pandora box of dos and don’ts for businesses. Acting in accordance with the demand and growth opportunities, many new businesses are getting on to the bandwagon of online marketing, hoping to pick up overnight riches, but all they get are hitches and glitches.

Even though we have implied that there’s no one-fits-all success formula, when it comes to online or offline marketing. You shouldn’t be imitating or rejecting marketing strategies based on other’s experiences alone, still, there’s plenty you can learn from the marketing blunders made by others.

Following are 3 of the most famous marketing mistakes from the past that internet marketers can explore to pick up some lessons.

1. Coca Cola “New Coke” Case

Lesson: Don’t blindly imitate your successful competitors

Coca cola “New Coke” Case

One fine day, Coca Cola founders decided to bring out a “New Coke” as a bid to challenge Pepsi, a fierce rival that was eating their market share for quite some time. To do so, they went for simply emulating the relatively sweeter taste of Pepsi. The taste was working for Pepsi, but instead of working for Coca Cola, it resulted in working up the loyal customers, simply because the consumers weren’t ready for another Pepsi taste-alike. Remember that this change was backed by quite some research, which made it doubly hurtful for the company. What the researchers actually missed was going to their loyal customers and inquiring if they were looking for a sweeter taste? By failing to adopt an “outside-in” approach, they’ve had no other option but to do an about face.

So, if you are running an online business, website, or a Blog, and you’ve got some loyal customers, visitors, or readers, you’ve got to stick to your originality, especially if that’s something dear to your customers. Just because your rivals have introduced something, and because they are having some success doesn’t mean that you should drastically change your business model. Know your forte, talk to your clients (via social network) and try to gauge their demands and requirements, because at the end of the day, it’s your customers who are going to decide your business fate.

2. Beatles Butcher Cover

Lesson: Innovate – but don’t intimidate

Beatles Butcher Cover

This has got to be one of the most unpleasant marketing tactics ever, and that too, coming from mainstream artists (but then the conceptual art was never meant to be aesthetically pleasant. For their new album “Yesterday and Today”, the Beatles decided to be a little too creative for promoting the album and more importantly their “comment on the war”. Unfortunately, the creativity came out as images of raw meat, decapitated limbs, sadistic looking guys, naked doll babies, and everything that didn’t get approved by the general audiences (in spite of the fact that the original cover continues to sell at whopping price, to this date. It was a huge controversy at that time and the butcher cover was quickly replaced by another, more civilized one.

The lead guitarist, George Harrison, summed up the mistake later, when he said that “the idea was gross, and I also thought it was stupid. Sometimes we all did stupid things thinking it was cool and hip when it was naïve and dumb; and that was one of them.” Yes, sometimes we do things thinking they are cool and hip when they are naïve and dumb. Too much innovation can be disastrous for your online marketing campaign. Sure, think out of the box, but at least keep it sensible!

3. Jack in the Box Renamed as Monterey Jack

Lesson: If it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it

Jack in the Box Renamed as Monterey Jack

“Jack in the box” is a popular fast food restaurant chain in the US. Facing tough competition from the likes of MacDonald’s and other food chains getting increasingly popular, the restaurant got a little too experimental and went for developing a new image to target more “grown-up” customers as compared to the rivals like McDonald’s that was targeting families. Apart from other changes in the marketing strategy, they also went for changing their name from “Jack in the box” to “Monetary Jack”. Just like the case of New Coke, the change didn’t go well with the customers and they had to revert back to their original name, soon afterwards. The lesson for internet marketers? Don’t get paranoid just by seeing new competitors emerging from left, right and above your business, or you might end up shooting yourself in the foot. Also, don’t make abrupt and unnecessary changes.

Natasha Mesty
Natasha writes for w3whiz, which is an internet marketing company catering small businesses. W3whiz is offering some unbelievably low-priced SEO packages, however this offer is... Read Full Bio
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  • Randy Addison

    Oh, thanks a lot for sharing this post. I have learned something really big. Do not try to over-innovate things. If your first system is working perfectly then there is no need to change how it goes.

  • Hypnotherapycw

    This may be important information. Your first sentence, however, is so badly written and run-on, it turned me off from reading another word. So, may I please suggest that you spend a LITTLE effort, for the sake of your business, in editing what you write and post. A 2 minute re-read of what you have written will usually help you notice GLARING and AWFULLY written posts. Or, turn off a great deal of your audience and lose credibility because you clearly do not care enough to take an extra 2 minutes to check to see if anything you have said makes any sense.

  • Zippy Cart

    Sort of reminds me of the old frog in a pot analogy: if you put a frog in a pot of water and slowly increase the temperature, the frog falls asleep before it knows that it’s being boiled alive. If you throw a frog into boiling water, it flops around and tries to escape. Not that we are trying to boil our audiences alive (metaphorically or otherwise), but the core of the example is valid: don’t shock the system.

  • Moosa Hemani

    some of the great case studies… I simply loved it! love the 2nd case study

    yes! innovation is necessary in order to engage and entertain people you need to bring some changes nad innovation in your marketing strategies from time to time but when ever you are changing their must be some proven stats on the basis of which you change or add something…

    Great Read thanks for sharing!

  • Vineet Waldia

    very nice article, its for all marketers and business person.

  • Lovely Gautam

    Very thanks for sharing this post. Very informative.

  • smith brell

    When a webmaster sets out to market his or her website there are things that are commonly mistaken as good, but really end up hurting in the long run.

  • softwaredevelopment

    That was a really helpful insights from you! I must agree that sticking to what your forte is mean everything to your business. Making abrupt changes also worsens your sales and managing new strategies might as well to tasky but with careful considerations and time, It will surely pull through.

  • Surlycurly

    PLEASE, Natasha Mesty, correct your freudian slip! While Jack in the Box was attempting to make more money, I doubt they would ever consider calling their “restaurant” Monetary Jack. Monterey Jack is actually pretty funny.

  • Surlycurly

    PLEASE, Natasha Mesty, correct your freudian slip! While Jack in the Box was attempting to make more money, I doubt they would ever consider calling their “restaurant” Monetary Jack. Monterey Jack is actually pretty funny.

  • Chad Nicely

    Man, I had some comments until I saw that Beatles Album. That has got to be one of the most distasteful things I have ever seen and from such a legendary group. Now a little of the subject, I saw this Jack in the Box and was thinking about something. Jack in The Box has spent so long branding themselves, their logos, and their slogans. Have you seen their new logo and signs? Why would they do that? Where did their PR department go to school. Check it out, cause I’m puzzled. – Cheers, Chad

  • Dhirendra

    Like Coca cola same mistake has done by Microsoft for their search engine, they never strict with their brand and changes the name of MSN to Live and Bing, this is the big blow for their brand.

  • Rojae Braga

    It’s good to learn from the mistakes of others. Thanks for this Natasha! I wish you could add more marketing mistakes to the list. It would also be good to include hitches and glitches from today not just from yesterday.