We've collected them from clients, companies and professional practices over the past thirty years. They are guaranteed to keep your business from growing -- and promise to save you the annoying problems that more business can bring.
1. Don’t keep in regular contact with clients and customers. They ought to know by now that you value them. They don't need to hear it.
2. Don’t plan. After all, planning is for the weak. It holds you back. By not planning you are free to shoot from the hip and aim for the stars. Just because successful companies plan doesn't mean you should. You don't want to be big anyway.
3. Don’t go out and meet people. Stay in the office. Wait by the phone. It’s sure to ring. And if it doesn't, blame the economy.
4. Don't pay attention or watch trends. Don't ask your clients what they want or how you can improve your service. And don't watch for changes in people's wants and needs. Just because they keep changing, it shouldn't affect the way you run your business.
5. Don't thank people for referring business to you. It's too time-consuming to call them or write a letter or note. They don't need to know your business depends on referrals, whether or not you appreciate the recommendation, or how things worked out.
6. Don't worry about building a brand or standardizing your company’s identity. Change your look, logo, typestyles, and colors – even your company name – each time you do something new. Make people guess which company is you and what you stand for.
7. Avoid talking about the value of doing business with you. Don't tell people exactly how you can help them and what they'll gain from working with you. For instance, don't tell them how you can solve their problems and save them time and money. Instead, bore them with the details of how you go about doing the work. Don't talk results — stick to explaining the process and what it costs.
8. Make cost more important than effectiveness. For instance, make sure everything you put out looks ordinary and unimportant. Just because you always notice when something is cheap or poorly done doesn't mean they will.
9. Assume everyone already knows about you. All that talk about how 20% of people move every year doesn’t apply to your business. You’ve been here a long time and people know you. When they are ready, they’ll call.
10. When something does work, don't do it again. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and move on to something else. Never repeat something that worked. What fun is that?
11. When something doesn't work, don't ask why so you can fix it. Try it again.
12. Forget consistency. Do something different each time you do a marketing project. It’s important to be creative and have fun — and if people don't get it, it's their problem.
13. Don't put up great signage. People might get a good impression of you and call or stop in. This will interrupt you doing something important.
14. Don't summarize for people. Even though we all see thousands of advertising messages a day, your clients and prospects will take time to read every word of your material. After all, you sent it.
15. Ignore what leading companies are doing. Their success is probably just luck. Trying to learn from them isn’t likely to be worth it.
16. Ignore what your competitors are doing. What – they have new products, a terrific and cool website, and professionally-prepared materials? They are just wasting a lot of money. Your customers know you and trust you. They won’t be fooled.
17. Avoid new technology. Your old answering machine is just as good as voicemail – and Gladys usually gets those messages right, especially the long, personal ones. And you just got the hang of the fax machine. Why use email – or texting – or even a database? Nobody you know does.
18. Tell yourself you are not narrow-minded, you’re focused. Why add new services or capabilities? That’s just more work and expense. People still need what you’ve always provided.
19. Keep doing what you’ve always done. The newspaper ads were good enough back then, why change now? Besides, our ad rep is so nice. And the restaurant placemats really get our name out there.
20. Don't ever get professional help. It costs money. And what could they possibly know that you don't?
If any of these 20 guidelines sound familiar, take heart. They all can be reversed — often with astoundingly positive results.
From our archives. We first wrote this in 1985. It was such a favorite with our clients and friends that we updated it to include here.