10 Reasons Why Your Marketing Plans Don’t Work

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marketing planGathering your team to plot out your next marketing campaign can seem daunting, especially for a new business.

If you aren’t strategic and thoughtful about how you spend your money, you’re more likely to waste your money on campaigns and tactics that don’t work.  

Here are the most common slip-ups when you’re trying to build effective marketing campaigns—and how you can address them:

1. Lack of a marketing plan

Simply knowing how your business runs and what products or services you offer is not enough to plan your next marketing move. You need to have a solid marketing plan in place.

But it shouldn’t be just any old plan. This study shows that just implementing generic marketing strategies doesn’t work; you need to tailor your marketing plan to your company’s needs and goals. You probably wouldn’t use the same strategy to market high heels to an urban, fashion-forward audience as you would to market running shoes to suburban fitness seekers.

The value of a marketing plan:

A great marketing plan requires that you know who your target consumers are and where you actually stand among the competition. You also need to keep track of your day-to-day progress to make sure that your marketing strategy is actually hitting the right KPIs (key performance indicators) to achieve your goals and increase business bottom-line.

Without a marketing plan, you risk losing your customers and wasting your budget even if you have the right tools to support the campaign. Don’t do something just because it seems like you should. Think it through and make sure that your tactics contribute to your overall goals.

2. Not knowing your value proposition

A value proposition is a statement that summarizes why your target market should buy from you. This statement distinguishes you from your competitors, explains how your product/service improves your market’s lives, and delivers specific benefits that consumers will get from your company. In a nutshell, it is a promise that you intend to (and should) deliver.

Value propositions exist for a reason: they add more meat to what you have to offer to hungry customers.

Tight industry competition drives companies to fight over a huge piece of the market pie. But the real challenge is not about attracting new customers—it’s all about earning their loyalty.

How to present a clear value prop:

To define your value prop, you need to identify how your products or services will add more value to your customers’ lives. It has to be specific and targeted, and it should speak to how your solution eases a pain point.

Differentiate yourself. Your proposition should show how your product/service stands out among a sea of other companies providing something similar. Let your customers know why you are the best in the market.

3. Investing in a high-caliber marketing staff too early

Too often, business owners are tempted to hire the crème de la crème right at the outset. This can prove to be counterproductive.

While having the best team for the job will go a long way in helping you execute a winning marketing strategy, it could also put a serious dent on your budget—a huge problem, especially for startups.

The value of hiring slow:

Hiring high-caliber staff early in the game may take its toll on your time, money, and other resources.

Wait to start expanding your marketing team until you’ve exhausted other lower cost options, or it’s obvious that you can’t scale your business without expanding your team. Base every hiring decision on the value—dollars and cents—that your new hire will add, and don’t do it until your finances can support it.  

The good news here is, you don’t necessarily have to hire in-house marketers. You can outsource marketing to other experts in the field to help you start your campaign and keep it moving.

4. Targeting the wrong audience

When drafting your campaigns, it is crucial to keep your audiences and their preferences at the core of every tactic. It is difficult to create a marketing strategy if you are not sure who you’re even talking to!

The value of targeting the right buyer persona:

Targeting a huge number of people without narrowing down the demographics and qualities of your ideal customer means that you are wasting your energy on people who do not need or want your offerings.

On the flip side, being extra specific about who your target market allows you to send the right message to the right people at the right time. Know your audience. Make sure you understand their buying habits and the nature of their loyalty before you drop a big spend on a new marketing campaign.

It’s pretty easy to mess this up in an effort to increase your market share. Take, for instance, a 2010 marketing snafu by Gap. The clothing retailer attempted to appeal to a younger market by revamping its logo. However, this move alienated their current customer base, as they felt that Gap was moving away from the comfortable, non-trendy items and into a more fashion-forward brand.

Gap tried to appeal to a new audience without first understanding the needs and wants of their existing customers. This resulted in a massive, mainstream backlash. The clothing brand reverted to their old logo only a week after they released the revamped one.

Define your buyer personas by collecting data on their demographics, their hobbies, why they purchase from your brand, why they purchase from your competitors, and their pain points. Where do they hang out online? What do they want from services or products like yours?

Personalize your marketing efforts based on their tastes. Include strategic call-to-actions on your campaigns (e.g. landing pages, promotional merchandises, and so on) to help them throughout their buying journey.

5. Failing to document or refresh your marketing strategy

Prior to starting your campaign, make sure that your organization follows a seamless approval process. Most companies make the mistake of just repeating the marketing strategies that worked last year, expecting that they will get the same—or better—results this year.

The value of an updated marketing strategy:

One important lesson you have to remember is that the digital world offers tremendous opportunities to companies who are able to adapt to fast-changing customer preferences.

If you want to create a solid end-to-end marketing plan, make sure that you review your strategies and align them with your current customer’s expectations.

Look at the following factors and see what needs to be updated or overhauled:

SMART goals

Start with SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

Do you know exactly what you want to achieve with each of your campaigns? Is it increasing brand awareness on social media in the next six months? Is it increasing sales by 20 percent per quarter?

Strategies for various stages in the sales cycle

Next, review the strategies that you’ve laid down to achieve your goals. Remember that each tactic needs to meet your target prospects at each stage of your sales cycle (from prospecting, to qualifying prospects, to addressing their objections, to closing the sale).

So if you want to reach out to cold customers, you may want to invest in optimizing your web presence so people can find you in Google search results, or even through billboards, or print advertising. If you want to contact warmer prospects (those who have been exposed to you before), you may want to start an email campaign or consider content marketing (like starting a blog).

KPIs

As the old adage goes, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Make sure that your KPIs adequately measure the success (or failure) of your goals.

If it’s online brand awareness that you want, measure the increase in follower count and engagement from the time you started the campaign, as opposed to your numbers prior to campaign kick-off.

If those are just milestones leading toward the ultimate goals of increasing conversion (or product purchase), did you get your new followers to take the right steps? Did your strategies work? What needs to change for a positive ROI? Define success metrics before your campaign starts, then measure your effectiveness during and after the campaign.

6. Not having a website

Although a lot of companies have a website, there are still plenty who aren’t on board yet.

Even those who do have a website sometimes don’t think through exactly how they’ll guide visitors through their site to take a specific action—like making a purchase—or whether they’ll make it onto the first page of Google search results (SEO).

Plus, a subset of businesses who are thinking about SEO and website optimization haven’t mobile-optimized their websites, which means people who visit on a mobile device don’t have a great experience, plus Google penalizes sites that aren’t mobile optimized, so you’re more difficult to find in search results.

The value of having a website:

Setting up your company’s website will help you attract your increasingly always-on-the-go customers.

A social media presence is not enough for online visibility, especially in light of Facebook’s recent algorithm change possibly affecting even the biggest publishers on the social platform. What more when you only have a handful of followers?

Having a website means you’re not putting all your eggs in someone else’s basket—remember that social media owners can change their algorithm as they see fit. With websites, you control the content you publish and how many people will be able to see it.

Speaking of online searches, your audiences won’t magically appear on your website’s analytics; you have to put in the extra work by optimizing your website so Google will show it on the first page of search results (in other words, SEO, or search engine optimization). This way, your brand will be at the forefront of your customers’ eyes when they look for services similar to yours.

SEO is one way of helping your customers find you based on the solutions you can offer them. When done right, you can achieve better rankings on search engines, increase your website’s traffic, and build stronger brand credibility in the online space.

The truth is, having your own website isn’t optional—it is already a need. If you don’t have your own website yet, then you’re missing out on a huge chunk of potential customers.

7. Not having a blog on your website

Content marketing is gaining traction as one of the best and most effective tools in directing your customers to your website and sending valuable information to your audiences.

However, plenty of business owners don’t want to start blogs because of the time and money it takes to keep producing content.

The value of having a blog:

When you start pushing out content that proves to be valuable to your followers, you start building your reputation as an expert in the industry.  In fact, 60 percent of businesses with blogs acquire more customers.

To succeed at content marketing, make sure that you create a blog article lineup and optimize it with a winning content marketing strategy to build your audience online.

9. Being too competitor-oriented

It’s good to check what your competitors are doing once in a while so you can set yourself apart from them.

However, make sure that you are not executing your marketing efforts with the sole purpose of getting ahead of your competitors.

The value of focusing on your target market:

Remember that your business is about your customers, whether that is helping them improve their lives or solve their day-to-day problems. Don’t let yourself get stuck on what your competitors are doing; instead, focus your research on what your customers want and design your campaigns based on their needs.

9. Avoiding social media marketing

While it’s key to build your company’s website, a presence on social media can help you spread the word about your brand. According to Pew Research, seven in 10 Americans are using at least one social media platform to connect with friends, engage with news content, entertain themselves, or share stories and information with other people.

If that’s not enough reason for you to craft tailor-made marketing strategies, then you are missing out on reaching your potential customers.

The value of being visible on social platforms:

Creating an account on social media, posting a few photos, and sharing a few links will not automatically translate to conversions. Think of social media like any other paid advertising tool. Use it to both raise awareness about your brand and direct followers toward your website where they can purchase from you.

Take, for instance, HubSpot’s successful social media campaign. By monitoring and responding to brand mentions (even the negative ones), the software company gained valuable insights as to how effective their communications were. In the end, HubSpot used what they learned to improve their sales process.

You need to understand the differences between each social media platform and generate content that adds value to your customers’ lives. Similar to creating an end-to-end marketing plan, you also need to set SMART goals, strategize, and set KPIs for measuring the success of your campaign.

Start with knowing your audience’s needs and wants when interacting with a brand on social platforms. Then, regularly post content (e.g. videos, images, blog posts) that they will find engaging (look at their demographics and psychographics). Keep analyzing and testing your strategies to make sure that your campaign is working.

10. Investing in “big marketing” right at the outset

Plenty of small business owners make the mistake of diverting their resources toward the biggest and trendiest marketing channel there is today. This may come in the form of a powerful series of ads or an attention-grabbing booth in your field’s biggest trade show of the year.

Going big too soon can go one of two ways: Your (expensive) campaign could amount to nothing, or it could be such a huge success that your startup is incapable of keeping up with demand.

The value of starting slow:

As a small business owner, there are still a lot of details that you need to iron out before you risk your financial resources in huge marketing campaigns that may or may not work.

This includes conducting ample research on which platforms best suit your target market, and testing your hypotheses or ideas on what will work multiple times.

Refrain from rushing in, as tempting as it may be. Establish your buyer persona, and invest small amounts of resources in hyper-targeted marketing (showing relevant ads only to relevant people). You can also start with content marketing and publishing PR materials. You can even produce low-cost but engaging videos to get the word out about your business.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Run a small, relatively inexpensive test to figure out whether a particular tactic has legs in your market.

Prioritize and set your eyes on your customer’s needs

Feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of building a marketing plan for a new business is understandable. You’re probably juggling lots of competing priorities.

Start with making a list of every marketing tactic you could do, as this will help clear your mind. Next, prioritize your marketing tasks based on looming deadlines, those with a direct effect on your revenue, and those that can be delegated. Assign realistic deadlines to each of the tasks under these three categories.

Work on your deadline-driven tasks first. Then, work on those that will have a direct effect on your revenue and goals. Lastly, delegate what you can to your team (or hire a virtual assistant) so you can focus on other things without missing deadlines.

There are plenty of factors to consider when creating an effective marketing strategy. However, at its core, you need to keep your focus on your customers and how you can help address their day-to-day needs. With every tactic, go back to your buyer persona and make sure that you answer their pain points.

Have you committed any of these mistakes? How did you handle that situation? Let us know on Twitter @Bplans!

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Naida Alabata
Naida Alabata

Naida Alabata is an entrepreneur and a junior content marketing specialist in Manila, Philippines. She opts to share her expertise in business development and entrepreneurship, branding, and marketing. She has a vast experience in being an entrepreneur and a marketer, as she has managed and promoted her co-owned business with her colleagues.



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