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Nowadays, it seems everyone is an expert in something. We all read blogs, follow those we like on Twitter, and skim Facebook for tidbits of knowledge we can take away and use to improve our lives and businesses. But when everyone is an “expert,” how do you know if you are receiving sage advice or snake oil? Here’s our take on the worst advice on the web.

The worst advice we see is thinking only of your long-term strategy (your 5 year plan, if you will). There is a fundamental flaw in this approach, and your business is bound to lose money if you follow that advice. We believe in short-term (6-18 month) strategies that create measurable results and are the basis to your long-term goals. So, what are the flaws in thinking only in the long-term?

Not testing your product. Testing is the only way to know if your product or service can live in the “real world.” Take a cue from big companies like Apple and GE – don’t skimp on R&D. Long-term strategists neglect to mention this core element of success.

Not testing your marketing plan and tactics. If you don’t test your plan and tactics, how will you know what works? If you approach your plan in the short-term mindset, you can adjust your tactics to fill needs and review the best practices for success. Long-term tactics are hard to measure and test.

Use gimmicks. Gimmicks rarely work, and most consumers are savvy enough to see through this. Many view a gimmick as a cover-up for a flaw in your product or service. Avoid gimmicks whenever possible. Long-term tactics don’t account for testing (see above), and suggest using gimmicks to fall back on to boost sales.

Be appealing to lots of people. WRONG! You might as well just dump cash in your in-sink-erator. Create a target audience with very specific demographics and psychographics, and create a “marketing GPS” to find it. This will allow you to test your message and hone in on the group most likely to benefit from your product.

We always craft our marketing campaigns to drive short-term results first. When we know what works in the 6-18 month time frame, we can create long-term strategies based on those results. Keep these tips in mind to avoid the “bad advice” pitfalls.