Sometimes even the best thought-out marketing plans fail. All you can do is look back, learn from your mistakes, and work to avoid repeating them. But we all have egos—especially in business and marketing strategy. It's hard to admit when we're doing something wrong. The causes of marketing plan failures can feel out of your control when they usually aren’t. The bitter truth is that waiting can cause detrimental delays in solving very fixable problems. So let's look at this together and see how you can rebuild your strategy for marketing plan success.
1. You’re Setting Unrealistic Expectations
Why It's a Problem for Your Marketing Plans
Improper goal setting can be the downfall of even the most awesome marketing campaign. Unrealistic goals and expectations doom your campaign from the start, and they’ll put a damper on the extensive work and effort put in by your team.
Here's the thing. We all want to achieve big things—and you can.
A marketing department can do a lot over one year, five years, or even 10 years to drastically increase revenues while cutting costs. But if your shorter-term goals are unattainable, you end up demotivating your team and yourself.
You see an increase in turnover when you fail to see those short-term opportunities that become building blocks for sustainable success. Being overambitious in the short-term impacts what you can do in a year and beyond.
But how will you know if your goals are a bit out there? Figuring this out becomes an important part of the fix.
How to Fix It
Think Context with Industry Benchmarks
You may be tempted to focus on achieving industry benchmarks. But we'd argue that would be a mistake. Industry benchmarks lack context. And often, you're unable to see the "quality" of the outcome your competitors are generating—only the quantity of website visitors, followers, etc.
You don't know their ROI or their long game.
Across industries, the average lead conversion rate is 2.4%. That's the percentage of leads who become customers. However, the top 25% of businesses have a lead conversion rate at least twice that, at over 5%-10%. Depending on where you are right now, your lead conversion rate expectation could be way too high or too low.
Get In-House Benchmarks
Look at similar campaigns and KPIs you've run within this business. Of course, you're not locked into past performances. You can always do things better. However, past performance should become a benchmark you use to incrementally increase campaign performance.
Consider What You're Working With
Take a look at your team and resources. You may have a couple of rock stars on your team. But you can only ask so much of them if they're working with limited resources.
Are you working on a bootstrap marketing budget? To justify increasing the budget, you need some short-term wins that won't break the bank.
If you don’t have the labor or budget to carry out your plans, you’ll need to adjust your expectations for what’s possible now so that you can achieve bigger goals in the future.
Let Long-Term Strategies Kick In
It takes some time for you to build up your content assets, social media followings, and search engine visibility. Once you do, you'll be cooking with gas. But executing marketing plans can feel like a slow crawl in the meantime.
Reasonable, incremental objectives allow you to see that you are making progress, and you're not moving as slowly as you might feel.
Communicate with Stakeholders About the Role of Marketing
Let’s acknowledge that sometimes your marketing goals aren't fully under your control. Sometimes other stakeholders (CEO, owner, sales manager, etc.) can misunderstand what marketing is supposed to do. They may also not realize what's possible when you let marketing do what it does best—attract the right people with the right message at the right time through inbound marketing.
Communication is vital to marketing plan success. You must master the marketing meeting to ensure everyone is on the same page. This leads us to the next point.
Make Sure Goals Are Measurable
To effectively communicate with stakeholders, you need measurable metrics to show them. If you're starting with no awareness, then you must generate identity and get in front of your target audience. And you must have the system in place to measure that awareness numerically, so you and all stakeholders can see it's going up.
2. You Aren't Keeping Your Buyers in Mind
Why It's a Problem
If your campaigns are not keeping your buyers in mind, you’re likely not going to see the results you want. Buyers care about their problems more than what you do. They want to hear about how you can help them specifically.
This is especially true during the awareness stage of the buyer's journey. They don't know you. They don't have any reason to want to get to know you until you start talking about their problems and goals, and until you start building trust based on what you know about these ideal customers.
How to Fix It
Clarify Your Buyer Personas
Look at your buyer personas’ pain points, challenges, and other information that relates to your plan or campaign to fully grasp if you’re speaking to them specifically.
Respect the Buyer's Journey
As much as you want to deliver that sales qualified lead to revenue as soon as possible, the buyer's journey takes as long as it takes. Clearly defining that buyer's journey and aligning your marketing strategies and plan can speed it up. But at the end of the day, we're talking about real people who have real needs.
Forcing a bad fit on a customer is always a terrible idea.
Some buying decisions take time, research, saving, planning, preparing, and researching some more. This is especially true in B2B and if you’re selling a higher-priced product. People don't want to waste their money on poorly aligned solutions.
When you respect the journey, you work with it instead of fighting against it. And your customers avoid buyer’s remorse. That leads us to the next reason why marketing plans fail.
3. Not Expanding Your Plan Across Multiple Channels
Why It's a Problem for Your Marketing Strategy and Plan
Some plans are meant for only one platform. For example, if you sell something that's intended for Facebook, maybe you should stick to Facebook. But most plans benefit from being placed on more channels than just one.
Remember that your ideal customers are also likely on multiple platforms, so if you continue to only focus on one area within your plan, you’re limiting your reach and neglecting potential leads.
Often, sticking with one or two channels comes down to a lack of resources. We get it. You don't want to spread yourself too thin. How can you overcome this?
How to Fix It
Automation gets rid of tedious tasks, helping teams do more with less. It also helps you achieve consistency and timing that boosts the efficiency of all channels. The truth is, marketing automation today is smart and can do more than a whole room of humans could.
Don't get us wrong—you still need your people. But they work smarter and get a lot more done when you get good marketing automation into their hands.
Tracking the right KPIs, split testing, search engine optimization, conversion rate optimization, etc., helps you streamline how, when, and where you create and use content to further the buyer's journey. The more you learn about the personal journeys of your target customers, the less wasteful the marketing strategy becomes.
You spend less and get more!
When you create content, it becomes an asset. You can chop it up to deliver quick social media posts or repurpose a blog post into a video, longer content, or another form. These content assets attract your ideal customers through inbound marketing strategies.
For example, if you're not repurposing content into short-form videos, maybe you should be.
Short-form video (<1 min) usage has grown 62% since just 2019. It now represents most videos shared online. And we're not just talking about TikTok here. Some numbers: 31% of marketers are now using short-form across social media platforms and 46% of them say it's an effective part of their marketing strategy.
If you're working with a marketing agency that isn't creating short-form videos, you probably need to ask why.
4. Continuing to Use an Outdated Marketing Strategy
Why It's a Problem
If you haven’t updated your strategy in the last five years, you’re working off old information and potentially irrelevant goals. Just think about how much has changed in the last few years: social media platforms, how people get groceries, the capabilities of smartphones, the pandemic, and more.
Outdated strategy can also mean you’re using a strategy focused on trends and best practices that may not be in place today. And if your strategy is outdated, so is your marketing plan.
Sometimes, a target audience responds to a marketing strategy so well they get tired of it. If you haven't realized this, your customers and competitors are leaving you behind and answering why marketing plans fail. Are you listening? Maybe not, but you can start right now. Let's fix this!
How to Fix It
Understand How Today's Trends Influence Your Marketing Strategy
You need to build today's strategy around the trends shaping marketing today. Here are just a few current trends you may not be aware of if you're working with a five-year-old strategy. Are you adapting to these current marketing trends?
- Increasing consumer concern about how and when we track activity or use that information (cookies, pixels, etc.) and laws dictating how you collect and use information
- Pandemic-era changes, some of which may stick and others fade. Do you know which analysts expect to stick around?
- The ever-evolving power of influencer marketing
- More valuable B2B events
- Short-form videos
- Heavier focus on inbound marketing content across channels
- Less focus on paid advertising
Case in point: did you know that mobile advertising has been rapidly growing over the past couple of years? But analysts now expect a 10.4% drop by the end of 2022, and a steady decline over the next several years.
What's going on? You know people haven't given up their smartphones.
This trend is due to decreasing trust and effectiveness of most ads and increased focus on inbound marketing strategies.
Be Clear about Marketing Plan vs. Marketing Strategy
Your marketing strategy is essential to marketing success. It keeps you focused on what matters and moving toward a target. It's your purpose and explains how the goals you set help you achieve that purpose. It includes:
- What you offer
- Who your buyer persona is
- Who the competition is
- How you'll meet goals (high-level overview)
- How you'll meet the company's mission
On the other hand, your plan is a tactical action plan that goes into detail about campaign efforts. A plan is all about execution. It's the roadmap you'll take, and the steps along the way that help you achieve your marketing strategy goals. It involves:
- What you'll do
- Where you'll reach your audience
- How you track success
Focus on a Go-to-Market Strategy
A Go-to-Market (GTM) isn't just for launching new products. It precisely outlines how your brand will engage with customers to convince them to buy what you're selling. It ensures that your product gets into the right hands.
Because if that doesn't happen, you end up with unhappy customers who dissuade others from even trying your product—even if it would have been a good fit for them.
This all starts with how you'll attract the right customers, the people who need your product. It continues through how you guide this lead through the buyer's journey.
It becomes a practical guide for your team to create content that approaches prospective customers in a brand-aligned way. And it outlines the tools they use to accomplish this.
4. You Aren't Working With Experts
Why It's a Problem
Okay. Naturally, we're a little partial here. But hear us out. If you don’t have skilled marketing strategists in addition to skilled implementers, you’re likely not going to see the end product you were hoping for.
Ultimately, this is why marketing plans fail. When they do, marketing becomes an expense instead of an investment. You're just spinning your wheels as acquisition costs go up. You can't generate any brand love to increase momentum to lower costs.
But success is also found in the execution of marketing plans, not marketing strategy alone. If you don’t have the skills on your team to carry out your marketing plan, then the best marketing strategy won't do you much good. That's when it might be time to work with an agency.
How to Fix Why Marketing Plans Fail
Work with Experts
Marketing experts are an investment in marketing success and should always deliver an ROI that more than justifies what you pay—when you've set realistic goals.
Having a team of experts working for you also ensures that your marketing plans are carried out from start to finish on time, so you can see the marketing plan is working. You're not going to be in the same place in two years, or five years from now.
Beware of Fake “Experts”
You already know the importance of "buyer beware." You've likely been burned before by self-proclaimed experts who didn't get the job done.
You can actually look back to spot red flags that signal you're not working with a real expert. Be on the lookout for "marketing experts" that:
- Offer too-good-to-be-true pricing. Marketing is an investment. You know worthwhile investments require adequate capital.
- Promise results for unrealistic short-term goals.
- Don't market themselves very well (e.g., not respecting your buyer's journey).
- Don't specialize in B2B, so they don't understand your buyer persona or their journey.
LAIRE is a full-service digital growth agency dedicated to scaling your revenue through inbound marketing strategies and accompanying marketing plans that work. We want you to see measurable results and sustainable growth.
Our experts are an extension of your team and are passionate about seeing your business grow into those big, bold plans you have for your company. If you're wondering where your marketing plan went wrong, or where to start, we offer a 20-minute marketing assessment to give you feedback, and initial steps you can take to realize growth: