Since starting my career, I’ve read quite a few articles featuring “The Best Tools,” “The Best Advice,” and “The Best Gadgets” to use in digital marketing. Few people like to talk about the worst tools they’ve ever used, the worst advice they’ve ever gotten, and the worst gadgets that nobody should use. Other than reading product reviews and doing comprehensive research, how can we figure out what doesn’t work? Sure, sometimes we have to experience things and learn lessons for ourselves, but that about those tried-and-true bad things that will never change? This post is for those things. The things that suck. The advice that you shouldn’t take.

“Just Do What Your Competitors Are Doing.”

I’ve heard this from quite a few people across various industries, and this piece of “advice” always takes me aback. The great thing about this little nugget is that it doesn’t necessarily have to apply to the digital world. I like to look at this phrase as the business version of “If your best friend jumps off a bridge, then you should too.” Just because something works for the competition, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you, and even if your customer demographics are similar, brand messages and execution that may resonate well for one company may completely backfire for another. This practice is not only bad for business, but also stifles creativity. If your employees are simply following trends instead of trying new methods and strategies, your organization will always be behind the curve rather than one that forges paths.

“Don’t Bother Putting So Much Effort Into Mobile Development.”

This is a good one too (and by good, I mean absolutely awful, and you should definitely not take it into consideration). Many companies, particularly small businesses, are hung up on the idea that mobile and application development are expensive and they therefore shouldn’t explore their options. Others look at their website analytics and decide that because the data doesn’t indicate large amounts of site traffic coming from mobile devices, there is a low demand for mobile device support and better user experience. With 60% of Americans using their phones to access the internet, and with that number increasing rapidly, I find it hard to believe that there is low demand for websites that provide an enjoyable mobile experience. That being said, small businesses can benefit from optimizing their applications in order to take advantage of this lag and differentiate themselves from their competition or compete with larger organizations that have the resources to build out their web applications.

“Always Take Advantage of Every Social Networking Platform.”

How many times have you seen a company try to use a new social media platform and completely fail? I’d venture to guess that you can name a few instances right now. So why is it that people see the need to get on every network under the sun? It’s critical to use the social networks that best fit your business. If your customer base is comprised of baby boomers who aren’t at the forefront of online social networking, you probably don’t want to use Snapchat to deliver messages. Similarly, if you’re marketing to millennials, you probably don’t want to get in touch with them via AIM. Just as with marketing in the physical world, marketing via social media is all about integrating marketing messages into customers’ everyday activities. You wouldn’t put a billboard for a $250,000 car in an area where the average annual income is $20,000, so why would you want to tell a twenty-year-old about a top event on a medium that she doesn’t use? Sometimes, you don’t know how an environment will pan out until you try it — and that’s okay. The best way to make an informed decision is to use the data that you have collected in your own environments. But don’t feel like you have to take on a new program because it exists.

What’s the worst business advice you’ve ever gotten? Comment below to start the discussion.