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It’s a well-known fact that most marketing strategies fail to meet objectives. Yet, businesses pour untold sums of budget, time and energy at marketing activities.

It’s also a well-known fact that the way a business markets is dramatically different than even the recent past. Yet, businesses continue to market in the same manner that they always have.

Something has to change.

We’ve found two things in every business that we work with. These findings come from decades of marketing leadership in companies from startup to Global 100.

In part one of a two-part blog series, we’ve identified eleven strategic marketing “death traps” that must be avoided:

1. My Product and Service Sells Itself. Businesses tend to put what they offer at the center of their marketing effort. Highlighting the product or service, delivering facts and specifications in order to get people to change behavior. This approach is “old school” and immediately diminishes marketing effectiveness—largely due to the crowded, noisy market of competing and like products and services.

2. Nobody Does What We Do. Companies go to market thinking that they’re so unique that the market, prospect or customer will obviously see the advantage and make the right choice. Wrong. Every business, product or service has so many competitors that if you think you’re truly unique, you’re wrong. Not highlighting and talking about those things that differentiate you mean that your business is simply lost in the crowd.

3. Prioritizing Complexity and Detail. Interestingly business tend toward complexity in how they operate and communicate. Yet, the prospect and customer tend toward simplicity when finding options, evaluating alternatives, narrowing scope and making a decision.

4. Large, Homogeneous Opportunity Targeting. In the past a business could “mass market” with general messaging and targeting. Markets were sufficiently large that if one marketed to enough people or businesses, opportunity would result. This, too, is decidedly “old school” as markets have evolved into smaller, tighter, niche and micro targeting each requiring its own approach.

5. Being Vague. Thinking it Creates Inquisitiveness. By this, when companies market they purposefully leave things a bit vague thinking that the prospect or customer will “pick up the clue phone” and want to know more. Being vague leads to confusion and ambiguity; which leads to the prospect or customer going elsewhere for their answers.

6. What Worked in the Past Will Work Today. Of all of the death traps, this one is the largest. Continuing to do the same thing in rapidly evolving markets, competitors, prospect and customer requirements, economics and technology options is a certain recipe for marketing failure.

7. We Don’t Need to Market Too Much. This is the second largest contributor to failed marketing in two dimensions: a.) Underinvestment—deprioritizing marketing and not spending what is required to create interest and demand; and, b.) Lumpiness—inconsistent and sporadic marketing activities which, by their very nature, will always fail.

8. Social Media is the Best Marketing Tool. With the rise of social media and their associated advertising platforms, many businesses have placed the lion’s share of their marketing efforts toward social media marketing, generally ignoring other and more traditional channels of marketing. Social media marketing is a good thing, but remember that you lose “control” of your message and placement and end up leaving your success to a third party (the social media platform) which isn’t interested in your success as much as you might think.

9. My Reputation Doesn’t Really Matter. Companies fail to create a company or brand connection. They rely on their products and services (see number 1, above) to carry the day. Products and services come and go but companies remain. Not establishing your company’s identity and reputation diminishes your marketing effectiveness and lowers customer loyalty.

Second, in a world of social media, reputation is king. It’s surprising how few companies proactively manage their reputation, instead leaving reputation to be established by disgruntled employees and customers. Reputations matter more than you think.

10. We’re the Marketing Experts. A common trait in business is that they “know best” about how to market their value, company, products and services. More often than not, though, a company isn’t. Unless you’re a marketing company, as your core business, your company’s marketing expertise and skill is lacking and will not deliver the best possible results.

11. No Measurement or Improvement. It’s astounding how many companies view marketing and campaigns as “one and done” efforts. Even when they do some level of consistent, predictable marketing. Marketing strategies, activities and campaigns are seen in isolation from each other, from sales and from the company with little or no measurement, accountability and effort to improve. You can’t improve what you don’t measure; you can’t get the most by remaining independent and disconnected from the business.

Oh, there is one more… the largest contributor to marketing ineffectiveness. Poor leadership. Leadership is the key to substantially improving marketing effectiveness, leading to greater qualified opportunity. We often see marketing tucked-up under another organization whose leadership is well qualified in their technical or business discipline… just not in marketing.

Want to overcome these problems, read our Marketing Can Work blog post.

The Afterburner Group has been eliminating marketing fails for companies in the technology, energy, services, manufacturing and non-profit industries for over 25 years.

If you think that your marketing strategies, campaigns or activities are suffering or could benefit from an assessment and a new way forward to success, fill out the contact form below and we’ll let you know what that might look like and how you’d benefit.

Stop marketing fails.

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