There are few fields that see more fruitless efforts than marketing. For such an important part of the business world, it has a well-established possibility of accomplishing a whole heap of nothing much in particular.
This makes a lot of people wary about the prospect of investing in a marketing campaign, which then proves frustrating to the great marketers out there who are actually capable of delivering consistent results.
What businesses and marketers alike need to keep in mind is how things can go horribly wrong. If you know what causes the possible pitfalls, you can figure out how to avoid them.
As such, let’s look at why most marketing campaigns crash and burn.
Here’s a scenario for you: someone at the managerial level has decided that their company needs to do some marketing, perhaps after hearing a vague success story from an industry peer, so they’ve earmarked a small sum of money to do said marketing.
When asked what they want to market, or how, or when, or for how long, or to what end, they wave their hands dismissively. “Forget all that stuff”, they say. “Just run the campaign.” And with that, they retreat to a meeting room somewhere, presumably to dwell on gross profit.
The process envisioned seems to go like this:
Step 1: Throw a little bit of money at marketing
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit
They don’t know how what marketing actually involves, and they don’t care to think about it. To them, it’s a rote money-led process— a mechanical set of boxes to be ticked. All they’ll contribute is money, and all they’ll accept is profit.
This is a real source of frustration to marketing agencies who know perfectly well that a campaign without meaningful direction is doomed to be ineffective, and realise that meaningful input from the company that wants marketing is an essential ingredient.
The takeaway: if you want to run some marketing, have some idea of what it will actually technically involve, and be prepared to contribute significantly to the formulation of the marketing plan. Your chosen marketers will do the vast majority of the creative work, but they’ll still need some kind of core to build on.
Sometimes a marketing campaign will be backed by a fairly solid plan but fall flat in the execution, and it is often as a result of mediocre (or worse) copy that doesn’t have a single compelling thing to say.
You can have a sensible number of PPC ads, and a solid choice of banner location, and pamphlets at all the right events, but if the marketing materials don’t sell something worth investigating, your audience will be bored, and nothing will be achieved.
Who gets the blame for this? Well, the responsibility is often shared between marketers and their clients. Marketers can produce dull work because they’re incompetent, indifferent, or lazy, but it can also be a result of clients being too restrictive in their approaches.
The takeaway: hire marketers capable of producing great creative work, then give them the freedom needed to get the results you want. That doesn’t mean you should let them do anything at all; just tread as lightly as you can.
They Mishandle Metrics
It’s easier than ever to track performance metrics online. Most marketing tools have integrated analytics tracking, and just about every major Content Management System (CMS) has plugins that make it possible to add wide-ranging analytics functionality in a few clicks.
Just look at how easy it can be to use template-led systems: emailing platform Mailchimp allows customized A/B testing by default, and ecommerce CMS Shopify has a wide assortment of free or cheap analytics and reporting apps (top results pictured below):
Anyone who has a website built on WordPress can take advantage of free Google Analytics plugins or paid metrics tools like Hotjar.
Given this level of data accessibility, there’s really no excuse to overlook even just one relevant metric. Anything that plays into the goals of a campaign should be monitored, and everything should be properly contextualized.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen, and campaigns will often be hampered by the lack of appropriate tracking, or even nonsensical stat prioritization (assuming that the number of unique visitors to a site is important, for instance, when it doesn’t always matter that much).
The takeaway: before running a marketing campaign, make sure you know what metrics you need to track to determine success (your KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators), and check that you have everything configured so you won’t risk missing any vital data.
They’re Cut Short
When a marketing campaign is a complete bust, it makes sense to cut your losses. There’s no point in throwing good money after bad, as they say— that’s the sunk cost fallacy.
But this should only be done when it’s clear that things aren’t going to work, and quite often the executioner’s axe is brought down far before that point could feasibly be reached.
This also goes for campaigns that aren’t given enough time from the outset, though it’s not as common a problem. It most frequently occurs when a client won’t fully commit to a project and requests a half-measure that a marketing company agrees to because it needs the business, even though it knows that it won’t have the time to make anything work.
Good, productive marketing isn’t a quick fix— it’s a long-term investment. Remember the adage of it taking years to become an overnight success. If you’ve done your due diligence to choose the right marketing agency, encourage creativity, and implement the kind of detailed tracking you’ll need to properly gauge success, then you need to commit to the endeavor.
Most marketing campaigns fail because they lack coherent plans and don’t get the effort and freedom they demand. If you want to start marketing your company, take the time to think about your ultimate goal, then partner with a marketing agency that really understands you and will fight to make your venture a success.