Marketing horror stories. You’ve probably heard them. You may have one yourself. These are the stories about how someone tried a marketing technique, sent out a press release or ran an ad and “it didn’t work.”
I’ve heard plenty of these stories. And as with most urban legends, there’s usually more to the story than meets the eye. If you’re reading this book, you’re a coach, consultant, speaker, author or owner of a small business and you want more from your marketing than you’re currently getting. You may not be marketing at all because your business is new, or because you’re afraid to fail. Or it may be that your marketing is chugging along with mediocre returns or muddled measurement.
Take heart. Marketing isn’t mysterious, and once you understand how the pieces fit together, you’ll be in a better position to market your own company or to oversee someone to handle marketing for you. Take the first step in the RESULTS™ model and Recommit to marketing. Let’s start by looking at the seven most common reasons that marketing plans fail.
- No Planning. This is true in both large and small businesses. Many marketing efforts fail because there is no link between the marketing actions and the bottom-line business plan goals that drive revenue. This happens because decision makers get caught up with a vivid, creative idea that isn’t accountable to the bottom line, or because they take a “great deal” offered by a salesperson for a media buy. Marketing without a plan is a disaster waiting to happen.
- Inappropriate Actions. If there is no plan, then whatever marketing actions that are taken may conflict with each other. It’s unlikely they’ll reinforce each other or support a business plan goal. Disappointing results come about because of a “ready-fire-aim” approach where actions aren’t anchored to business objectives and target audiences. Attempts to copy what a successful competitor is doing without understanding why (or whether) the action is working for them is also a dangerous approach.
- Lack of Clarity about the Target Market. Mass marketing is dead. Blasting out marketing without a clear target is wasteful and unsuccessful. You can’t hit a target if you haven’t identified it. There is a “sweet spot” of potential customers who could become your ideal clients. You’ll need to get to know them to win them.
- Lack of Clear Goals. If you don’t have an upfront understanding of what success will look like, you won’t know when you achieve it. Not only do your marketing actions need to be linked to specific business goals, but each marketing action should be measurable. Build in measurability up front so expectations are clear.
- Unreasonable Expectations. A single press release isn’t likely to create a big spike in sales. One ad probably won’t save your company. Many people become disillusioned with marketing because they don’t understand the benchmarks for successful programs. For example, most direct mail professionals are thrilled to get a 1% response rate. One percent! Yet many small businesses send out a postcard mailing and quit in disgust, expecting a response of 20%, 30% or more. It’s important to have realistic expectations so you recognize success when you see it.
- Unclear on How Marketing Works. For many people, marketing is a lot like a DVD player. They don’t know (and don’t care) how it works. Your odds of creating successful marketing are slim without some knowledge of how the pieces function and the process required to pull the pieces together. With the Internet, new tools are emerging almost daily. You’ll need to know how to blend New Media and Web 2.0 tools with traditional marketing to succeed in today’s marketplace. Understanding what makes marketing tick is essential whether you’re doing it yourself or delegating it to someone else.
- Insufficient Patience. “We ran an ad once and nothing happened.” We’ve all heard that. But did you know that marketing research shows that it takes between seven to 30 “touches” to make a sale? Customers won’t buy until they have an urgent need. Until then, all you can do is create name recognition and a good reputation. That’s the value of the Rule of 30™. Marketing has a lot in common with farming. You wouldn’t plant seeds one day and go out the next and dig them up in disgust because full grown plants hadn’t sprouted overnight. Seeds take time and you can’t hurry that. Marketing seeds also take time to grow.