Why Marketing Plans Fail

by Strategic Piece, on 7 Sep 2021

Developing a successful marketing plan requires perseverance, experimentation, and focus. Melanie and Matt share their observations on why well-intentioned marketing plans often fail.

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:       Although some of our clients are implementing a marketing strategy for the first time,  most of them have been “doing marketing” for a while.

Sadly, our conversations with them often start because those efforts have “failed”.

Exactly what “failed” means varies from business to business but we can generalize it to “didn’t deliver what was promised or what we expected.”

Melanie:   Hopefully an alarm bell is already ringing in your head. What if the promise or expectations were unrealistic?

There’s answer number one to why marketing plans fail: because they were unrealistic and therefore, doomed to failure.

Matt:    Another common cause of failure is a lack of perseverance.

Marketing is a game of experiments.  It’s also about building relationships and trust, which are things that take time.

There’s no hard-and-fast answer to “how long?” so we generally counsel our clients to plan for at least 6-12 months of consistent implementation before they will see the full effect of their work.

Does that mean they are guaranteed to deliver a particular result by the time 12 months has elapsed?  Not at all.

Successful marketing requires a virtuous combination of audience, channel, content, creative elements, and sometimes an offer.

But, even when you get all of the content and design pieces right, failing to invest time and money for long enough can still scupper your efforts.

Melanie:   When a company hops from one marketing strategy or tactic to another without letting anything properly play out, we call it “random acts of marketing”.

On the surface, it can look like the company has tried a hundred-and-one approaches and none of them have worked.  In reality, they haven’t given anything a chance to work.

So, answer number two is: because the effort and investment weren’t sustained long enough for the desired result to be delivered.

Matt:      Another related issue is trying to do too many things at once.

If you’re Coca-Cola, General Motors, or another mega company, your marketing budget and team probably can take on just about anything you like.

For the rest of us – especially smaller, growing businesses – we have to respect the limitations imposed by our resources, both financial and human.

Melanie:   An omni-channel strategy, which loosely means being present for your customers on any and every channel they might care to frequent, is expensive and time-consuming to implement.

It’s far better to be effective on a handful of channels – and with a handful of marketing tactics - than spread too thin and ineffective on many.

Matt:      We’ll mention just one more pathway to failure before we wrap, even though there are probably dozens we could explore.

This one concerns another type of consistency: branding.

Your brand should be both coherent - which means the various elements hang together nicely - and consistently applied.

Developing a coherent brand identity is a one-time effort that need only be revisited every few years as your business, the market you serve, and marketing tastes change.

That said, there’s more to a brand than just your company name and logo.  

Melanie:   You should also consider the personality and voice of your brand, the color palette you will employ, typography - otherwise known as fonts, and the type of images and graphics you will use.

All of these elements will combine to create a user experience that should be memorable and easily associated with your business.

Capture the details in a brand guideline document, along with instructions on how each of the elements should be used.

Then, apply that guideline religiously to all of your physical and digital assets.

Matt:      In larger organizations, I’ve heard the creative department nicknamed “the brand police” because they routinely intercept non-compliant company documents and materials to insist that they are brought into line with the brand guidelines.

Why is this so important?

Prospects, customers, and even future employees encounter your company in myriad ways, both online and in person.  

Each time they are forming and updating their impression of what it might be like to do business with you or to work for your company.

Melanie:   If they pick up mixed signals - different impressions from different encounters - it can undermine their trust in your brand or your business.

Conversely, if what they encounter is congruent, and consistent, it will form a clear impression - whether good or bad! - and make it easier for them to choose whether to do business with you, or work for you, or not.

So, reason number four that marketing fails is: an incongruent brand or inconsistent brand implementation.

Matt:    You can avoid all of these pitfalls by establishing a consistent brand and an appropriate marketing strategy.  Both of them require work and must be tied back to solid corporate fundamentals and objectives.

Whether you need support in optimizing your brand, delivering an effective marketing strategy, or want to align your whole team to deliver an information-driven customer experience, Strategic Piece is here to help.

Let’s put an end to random acts of marketing.  Let’s explore how a clear and focused marketing strategy can help your business deliver exceptional revenue growth.


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Topics:Marketing Strategy