Ten Ways You Can Sabotage Your Marketing Plans

I led a Marketing 101 training session recently where I asked a fairly basic question: What is marketing? The gamut of responses touched upon in earnest was, as usual, eye opening. People suggested marketing is sales, marketing is advertising, marketing is “spin,” marketing is positioning, marketing is who you are, marketing is money. After only a few minutes (and, perhaps, only a short time before someone threw in that “marketing is the kitchen sink”), I stopped the group.

What is clear every time I present that question to groups is that while there is a wealth of knowledge about how marketing can be empowering, there is an equally sufficient level of confusion at the same time.

Whether you are a C-level executive, entry-level marketer, or a business owner who can’t afford a dedicated marketing staff, follow along as I share some of the critical mistakes an organization will make with their marketing choices. And, perhaps, this will give you the heads up you may need to avoid thinking that marketing is a Kohler product line.

You believe that metrics are less important than creative.Don’t get me wrong. I am as much a creative, conceptual guy as the next marketer. What I am suggesting here is that creative is, sadly, not enough. Instead, you have to be tuned in to the increasing accountability of ad spends, ROI and measurability. Think about it this way: Even if you are a brilliantly creative individual (gifted, say, even more than I am giving you credit for), how do you know if you don’t measure your results?
You think your slogan is your brand.People think in slogans. Like the old Gary Larson cartoon about what dogs hear…you talk to some marketers and all they “hear” is their slogan when they think about their marketing.

In fact, some companies do well with their slogans, and find it echoes their brand. But that is a byproduct of effective messaging. Remember, your brand comes first, your slogans come later – and are interchangeable.
Your company doesn’t support your brand strategy – or vice versa.I hear you have a pretty good marketing strategy. How does it support the organizations’ strategic plan? Or does the strategic plan align with what you’ve planned?

It is critical your marketing initiatives align closely with the organization’s strategic plan, otherwise you’ll be talking to walls when it comes time for support. Don’t be a maverick. Instead, be more effective at coalescing forces. The strength of an organization (especially during an economic downturn) can be strongly bolstered with brand equity. But you don’t develop brand equity with divergent paths.
Your website doesn’t work.Do you really need further explanation on this? I’ll say this: If your website is broken, you are leaving considerable amounts of money on the table. Your website will be one of your greatest assets if you fix it.
Your website works – you just don’t know what to do with it.The rage these days is to “web application” hop. What’s the newest thing? Where’s the next web innovation? The unfortunate consequence of this is two-fold. Leadership will think you’re playing Three Card Monty with company funds. Or you ARE playing Three Card Monty because you don’t know what to do next – and you figure you’ll land on something that’ll help soon.

Get help and develop the right plan for your website. It’ll do wonders for your marketing plan.
You don’t have a marketing plan.Okay, the cat’s out of the bag. You don’t have a plan of what you need to do. This could be for several reasons. Either you are a business owner or executive who doesn’t have the capacity to generate this level of planning, or you’re a marketer and aren’t sure where to invest your energy. You don’t know what you want.

Remember this principle: Ideas are good. But good ideas don’t generate strong revenue performance. Planning, execution and thoughtful consideration of the entire picture (that is, a plan) will help a good idea become great. And great ideas, more often than not, generate strong revenue.
People don’t matter.You’ve heard it before uttered as a joke: “If it weren’t for the customers, my business would be enjoyable.” People, whether external or internal to your operation, are the bedrock of anything you want to accomplish. Here are a few things you should have to support any effective marketing strategy:
Focus Groups
Surveys (phone and Internet)
Feedback buttons
Social Network application
What is marketing collateral?The big picture is what holds the big idea. Without it, you will miss something. Integrate all your marketing collateral to be in lockstep with each other. Launching a project through direct mail? Make sure your staff, website, and print all contribute to the single message you are communicating with your customers. You should have the entire picture in hand when you enter an effective marketing campaign.
Consistency doesn’t matter.Changing a logo, theme or slogan might seem like a “shift” to you – but if you do it frequently or in sporadic ways, you could actually hurt your brand. Don’t mistake agility for change. Agility is the ability for your business to respond to the changing marketplace. It isn’t your ability to pay for another rework of a logo.

When you aren’t able to apply consistent, measurable messages – such as with a logo – your credibility will suffer. Your brand will become undependable. Find the path and then stick to it.
Marketing is expensive.Let’s make this statement true and then add a sibling statement: Ineffective marketing is expensive. Not marketing at all will cost you more in untapped potential than you’d ever save by not investing in a good marketing campaign.

Procter and Gamble has a marketing budget of over $4.5 billion. Why? Because it is returning a great profit. Don’t mistake investing money on marketing with spending money on marketing. The difference is critical. Both to you and your business.

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