Marketing strategy: why marketing efforts fail

Okay, ‘fail’ is a pretty strong word, but when it comes to a B2B marketing strategy that doesn’t work surely that is failure? There are usually plenty of reasons for marketing not working out and there are some common culprits that can claim their part in poor performance. So, here we explore the seven most common areas that affect marketing results.

1. Not knowing your market

It may seem ridiculous that marketers don’t know the market they’re going in to, but believe me it happens regularly. The culprit here is usually not doing enough market research to understand what’s happening in the market and the impact that market forces will have on your product or service.

With a new product, there’s always uncertainty about how it will be received and whether the proposition is right for the intended audience. The only way around this is test it and learn, [very] quickly.

Whilst you don’t often see it in the B2B space as it’s too risky, it does happen. I’m sure you all know of a product or technology that’s become obsolete or failed quickly, or a poor product that offers long lock-in contracts to protect it.

Build the learnings into the marketing strategy with clear pivot strategies laid out.

2. Going too broad or too niche

It’s tempting to try and appeal to as many people as possible, but it’s not always a good marketing strategy. Your product isn’t for everyone – it does what it does very well for a certain group of people that will buy it. Recognising this is fundamental. It’s then possible to carve up the audiences and market to them appropriately.

Time and again I see marketers trying to appeal too widely, or go completely the opposite direction and not appeal widely enough.

Even if your product or service is right for everyone, it’s likely you’re going to appeal to no-one if you go too broad, and conversely if you go too niche you may not make the revenue.

3. Not knowing your audience

People are strange and we all have our quirks, so painting a vanilla picture of your audience is going to result in failure. I’ve seen a lot of content around recently about buyer personas and the importance of them – I couldn’t agree more.

Where people fail though is that they paint a very tame, safe version of their audience limited to light demographic information and little depth into the emotional triggers and motivations of the people most likely to buy their products and services.

The result is watered down messaging, content and campaigns that rarely resonate with the intended audience.

4. Poor execution

So, you get the research right, the targeting right, the campaign looks fantastic and everything is going great, only to be let down by poor execution. In our world, we see under the hood of the marketing automation platforms and we see the awful nurture programmes, the lack-lustre copy or the distinct lack of campaign activity.

We also see the level and depth that organisations go to promote the campaigns. Usually it’s not enough, and often the pieces don’t quite fit together which is why this is a clear reason why marketing activity can fail to do its job properly.

It’s not easy and more often than not organisations know no different. Taking a fresh look and considering what you could do differently, how you could extend the campaign and what other materials or distribution channels you could use allows for a new perspective – and better results.

5. Poor targeting or shooting the scattergun

There’s little excuse for poor targeting – it’s lazy and wasteful. A big bug bear of mine is advertising that’s broad-brush, particularly in B2B technology. There’s really no point. Whilst isn’t not going make your marketing strategy fail, it’s going to burn down your budget meaning that you can’t spend it elsewhere.

Some typical examples of wasteful targeting would be with social media advertising, set to the broadest types of targeting – especially on LinkedIn and Twitter. Then there’s poor buying choices with remnant display ad inventory – it looks cheap, it kind of looks targeted, but it delivers very little.

Any paid media or distribution channels should be well thought through, highly targeted and deliver exactly what the campaign needs.

6. Not thinking through the lead management process

Okay, so the activity has gone well, everyone’s happy and you’re right on target for your marketing qualified leads quota, but nothing moves forward and pipeline is way off. Eek.

There’s often a huge disconnect between the marketing and sales team. A lack of communication, process and follow-up which results in surprises, frustrations and fingers pointing everywhere.

Whenever you’re developing the marketing processes or campaign plans, you can’t neglect linking up the marketing activity with what’s required of the sales team.

7. Really knowing how you’ve performed (and making changes for next time)

Once the activity is over, it’s too easy to move onto the next big challenge to keep hitting those targets.

The thing is that by doing so, you don’t end up revising the plan based on what worked and what didn’t. Often when we review activity our clients are surprised by what’s actually delivered and what hasn’t. It gives us the opportunity to explore new media formats and shift things around so that we can extend that performance.

More often than not, there is a fear of doing something different. And with the dramatic shift in buyer behaviours coupled with new media advertising formats on social media, it’s imperative that marketers change or risk failure.

It’s not all meant to be doom and gloom, in fact it’s rare to get all things perfect all the time in a marketing strategy (although I try very hard). Taking a step back, implementing a good review and shaking things up will lead to better results. Then at least, you’re doing everything in your control to mitigate against failure.

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