“To err is human.” People make mistakes, and for the most part, they’re easy to forgive. But when a brand errs, it can be hard for consumers to quickly forgive and forget, which can lead to a loss of revenue and customers. Of course, plenty of brands have made mistakes, learned from them, and recovered. But dealing with the fallout from misreading your target audience or posting inappropriately on social media is never pleasant. Here are 3 common marketing pitfalls and how to avoid them.

1. Making unnecessary brand changes
In the rush to beat the competition, some brands stray from what makes them great in the first place. Take Coca-Cola for example, which has been around since the 19th century. In 1985, they tried to compete with Pepsi by creating a “New Coke” that had a sweeter taste. Coca-Cola’s idea backfired when their loyal Coke drinkers went into an uproar over the new flavor and called for the old recipe back. Less than 3 months later, Coca-Cola brought it back under the name Coca-Cola Classic.

Before launching a new product or changing your original brand, listen to your customers and see if there’s a demand for it. Don’t make a change just because it’s trendy or what the competition is doing. Otherwise, you could lose current customers in the process of trying to gain new ones.

2. Sending out the wrong message on social media
With its immediacy and mass appeal, social media is a great tool for brands to engage with consumers. But those things that make it so great can also be harmful. In 2014, the hashtag  #WhyIStayed trended on Twitter and opened up a conversation about domestic violence. DiGiorno Pizza attempted to join in, tweeting “#WhyIStayed You had Pizza.” After feeling the wrath of thousands of people, the company apologized, explaining they didn’t know what the hashtag was referring to.

Just one wrongly worded tweet or inappropriate Facebook post can get a brand negative attention. Before you click, take another look. If it’s informative, clever, and friendly, post away. If anything about it seems like it might be inappropriate, think it over. And always make sure you understand a hashtag before using it.

3. Overpromising consumers
When making a specific promise through a marketing campaign or promotion, it’s important that brands can actually deliver on that promise. KFC learned this the hard way when they launched their grilled chicken meal, and—on the Oprah Winfrey show—offered a free deal to anyone who downloaded a coupon on Oprah’s website within two days. By the end of that period, KFC had given away four million meals, with six million coupons still outstanding. They cancelled the deal, leaving angry consumers who took to the Internet to express their ire that the restaurant had fallen through on their commitment.

Marketing promotions can be great for your brand, especially if they’re centered around a holiday, event, or product launch. But before you give a promotion the green light, do the math. How many people will your promotion reach, and can you meet the demand? This will ensure that you don’t make an empty promise.

These mistakes are a lot easier to avoid when you have marketing experts to help. Here at Harmon Group, we can help you navigate every marketing situation and scenario and create a comprehensive strategy that works for you.

If you want to know more about what we can do for your brand or business, contact us.