When marketing campaigns go wrong, it hurts. It hurts the business and it hurts the person responsible. I’ve had more marketing injuries than I can count, some when investing my own money for my own businesses and others whilst being responsible for someone else’s money working for another business. Despite each injury being an important lesson in my career to date, they have hurt my ego, my budget and I’ve taken them very personally. The reality, unfortunately, is that a lot of businesses working with limited resources experience marketing injuries on a regular basis.
A lot of these injuries can be avoided and I’m on a mission to help businesses avoid them.
A lot of these injuries can damage the attitudes of business leaders towards marketing and scupper future success. I’m on a mission to change this.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common marketing injuries and how to avoid them.
Common Marketing Injuries that Need to be Stopped
- Investing in a website that you’re not happy with
- Working with an agency, consultant or freelancer that doesn’t deliver
- Investing in advertising that generates little/no leads or sales
- Generating leads that don’t turn into sales
- Losing ideal clients to the competition because you hear they ‘had better marketing’
- Losing trust or confidence in what you’re doing or the people you’re working with
- An empty sales pipeline with no idea where your next customers are coming from
- Investing your own time in marketing that you ‘hope’ will work when you should be focussing on something else
I’m sure you can add to this list as I hear new marketing injuries pop up with every conversion I have with business owners and marketers. I used to think it was a ‘rite of passage’ for businesses that don’t have a strategic marketing function in the business but it really doesn’t need to be this way – read on for my top tips on how to avoid these things from happening or if you’d like to discuss how to create and implement your own B2B Marketing Strategy you can arrange a free, no-obligation call with me here.
How to Avoid Marketing Injuries
Know your objectives
You wouldn’t hike a mountain without having an end-point in mind (or at least I hope you wouldn’t!) You would also have a timescale in mind for your climb as well milestone points for tea breaks and overnight stays if you’ve got a long hike ahead of you. Marketing campaigns work in a similar way and SMART (Strategic, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-sensitive) objectives are useful to help you get to where you want to go.
Avoid fluffy objectives too so instead of saying – I want to generate more leads from this campaign or I want to build my sales pipeline.
Instead, try – In the next 12 weeks I want to:
- Generate 40 leads per month that will turn into 14 discovery calls/demos based on previous performance
- Increase my average website conversion rate from 1% to 2%
- Double my revenue by attracting 5 new clients
Your marketing objectives should align with your overall business objectives too. I encourage you to look at what’s important to the business as a whole and then work backward so you know what you need to achieve in order to keep moving towards that all-important long-term business goal.
Note: When you’re limited on resources look at your long-term business goals as well as your short-term business goals. Avoid solely focussing on short-term lead generation activities and don’t forget about reputation-building marketing activities.
Align your expectations around what good looks like
Do you know what good looks like for the marketing strategy you are focussed on?
When working with others, especially external suppliers and agencies it’s a useful question to ask -“what does good look like for you?” This way you can align your expectations and both be working towards the same thing. This is also a useful thing to do to make sure that you’ve set realistic objectives and you’re not setting yourself up to fail or be disappointed.
I’m a big fan of setting good, better and best objectives so you can be realistic in your efforts but also challenge yourself and those you’re working with too.
Know your ‘Next Steps’
Successful marketing in my opinion is all about leaving breadcrumbs and always have the next step in mind. If you don’t have a next step planned or in place then you are not investing your budget wisely.
To highlight this step one of the key reasons any money invested in advertising doesn’t work is because there’s no plan with what to do with the lead once you’ve generated it other than pass it to someone in sales to speak to.
Successful marketing is all about having good systems and processes in place so before you start any marketing campaign I recommend mapping it out as a flow chart either on a sheet of paper or using an online tool. Here’s a great review of some of the best flow chart mapping tools out there at the time of writing
Write a detailed brief
A marketer, freelancer, and agency can only be as good as the tools they have been given to work with.
You can recruit based on skills, experience, reviews and testimonials however if you don’t give someone the right brief it will be hard for them to deliver their best work – I’ve learned this the hard way on a few different occasions.
Invest your time writing a good brief at the start so you don’t have to spend your time going back and forth making amendments and getting frustrated.
A good marketing brief should:
- Highlight your goals, objectives and key deliverables
- link to your brand and tone of voice guidelines
- outline the key messages that need to be engrained in the campaign/activity
- outline your target audience and key attributes – both the business and the person you need to engage within it
- List the key stakeholders and key people that are responsible
Be curious – do your homework
You don’t know what you don’t know and some marketers and agencies that play on the dark side of the force of marketing will take advantage of this….
I’ve sat in too many meetings with external suppliers that have said ‘you didn’t ask for this’ – in an ideal world the experts will be experts and give us the right information and expectations upfront however the reality is that this isn’t always the case.
If you want to avoid marketing injuries as a result of not knowing everything there is to know about marketing and people then you need to be intentional with your curiosity and turn it into a marketing superpower.
Useful questions to ask before engaging with a freelancer, consultant or agency include:
- If you were me/us with my objectives, how would you approach this? What are the steps?
- What does success look like for you?
- What could stop this campaign or project from being a success?
- For ongoing projects such as a website ask: who is responsible for maintaining and managing this asset once the project is finished? What needs to happen to keep it being successful?
It is also useful before engaging with a new supplier or partner or starting a campaign you’ve not done before to ask others that have had success with it in the past. Ask them what worked well, what didn’t, what you should be aware of before getting started and any advice they would give you to make it a success of your own.
Avoid making assumptions
I’ve always loved the saying – “when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me” yet in marketing we commonly make assumptions every day.
To avoid making assumptions you need to ask great questions to your customers and prospects and develop great listening skills.
The best language to use in your marketing comes from the mouths of your customers. Listen to what they ask you on the phone or when you meet, read carefully the language they use in their emails, ask them intentional questions about what’s important to them (and what’s not), what their challenges are, what’s stopping them getting to where they want to go.
We would all love for our marketing campaigns and materials to look good and we spend a lot of time on brand visuals, colours, look and feel however the truth of the matter is that unless you are saying and writing the right things that resonate with your intended customer – it doesn’t matter how fancy it looks.
Focus on your content first and then the design. If you avoid assumptions in your content you’ll immediately stand out over and above your competition and will have more money to invest in the look and feel once you’ve got a regular stream of customers coming through!
A final thought
Marketing injuries can be costly, but they can be avoided with careful planning and execution – just #FollowtheOTTER. Keep these tips in mind when planning your next marketing strategy and campaign and if you ever need any help or support just ask. There’s plenty of resources here on this website but if you’re looking for something specific and it’s not here please get in touch here.