Regardless what your specific strategic goal is, one of the most important guiding principles is to realize you may be wrong. This is tough for many marketing leaders to own up to because no one likes acknowledging that a strategy they’ve developed isn’t working, but that happens more than you might think.

Consider some ‘leading’ companies in recent history. Microsoft’s write-off this month of $6.2 billion for aQuantive it acquired for $6.3 billion in 2007. Or how about Kodak now in bankruptcy trying to sell its remaining assets of patents it holds? And then there was HP that purchased Palm for $1.2 billion to mix with its webOS to start a new line of tablets. Their first product was priced comparably with the iPad and when it didn’t sell they dropped its entry product to $99 and it sold off the shelves. This caused a severe distribution problem and they had to abandon the project after six months.

So is there a silver bullet you can use to avoid all costly mistakes? The honest answer is, no. You will make mistakes but here are some ways to help you avoid some of them.

1. Sharply focus on your customer’s biggest need and work backwards the best steps to take to meet their need. For example, if you’re having difficulty creating new selling opportunities for your company, focus on the one need you can provide and market that aggressively. This helps build new relationships because you more quickly define who you are and what you do.

2. Leverage quick wins in the marketplace, no matter if they are relatively small. For instance, if you are a manufacturer trying to build out your product line among a specific vertical market, think about how much you have already produced for this market sector and promote that success, rather than introducing some new set of brand messaging.

3. Create a list of promotions you are going to use once certain levels of sales marketing success have been achieved. If you want to move 1,000 units of a particular product, for example, after you have sold 50, you might produce and market an interactive video that shows off the unit’s abilities at actual customer workplaces. Posting this video throughout your digital media platform and across the many media outlets you have established are likely to cross-promote your success, particularly if you provide solid factual content that support your product claims.

4. Stop every once in a while to evaluate IF things are going well or not, and analyze why. This is a critical juncture because you will probably be the first to know how things are going, at least you should be, and you need to be prepared to blow the whistle on your own strategy! Remember, it might save you a lot of money and time if you do.

5. Never let yourself get discouraged. Obviously this is much more difficult to practice than to preach but it can save you days or weeks of lost reaction time. When everything seems to get out of control, this is when taking a time-out can be very useful. All marketers should make this a part of their standard operating procedure and it should be viewed in a positive context.

To remain upbeat about your strategy you have to continue to believe in it so it’s essential you know you are standing on solid ground. Your customers are the best ones to give you this feedback, so ask frequently in many different ways. They will always tell you what’s on their mind and that can mean all of the difference in the world.