How To Avoid A Marketing Strategy Plan Failure

Businesses can spend a lot of time, effort and money investing in a marketing strategy plan and yet sometimes, even though they have approached it in the right way, it can still sadly fail.  This article takes a look at some of the most common reasons why a sound marketing strategy may not always reap rewards.

#1. Lack of resource to deliver

The first thing to point out is that a marketing strategy plan is just that, it is the overarching strategic direction of its marketing and an accompanying plan of action.  Without the action actually taking place, they are all just words on a page.  You don’t get fit by joining a gym, you have to first actually go and then use the equipment for a sustained period to get any benefit.  Many business owners can take the first step in terms of taking time to create the marketing strategy plan but then nothing happens.  The main cause for this is a lack of resources in terms of manpower and cash to invest

To overcome this, when the strategy is being devised and planned out, always ensure that the resources available are taken into account.  Does the business have someone who can drive this forward and a marketing budget ring-fenced to implement all of the activities within the plan?  This is an early conversation that needs to take place because if the business is not committed in supporting the strategy and plan, what is the point of it? Remember, it doesn’t always mean you need to recruit a dedicated marketing person, they are outsourcing options as well, but someone needs to stay on top of everything.

#2. Momentum

Momentum demonstrated by swinging pendulum

Following on nicely from point 1 is the key to all successful businesses – momentum.  Think about the most successful companies and brands – they are all continually working at improving what they do.  They do not sporadically advertise, they have a sustained approach to ensure that momentum is continually maintained so that they marketing activity continues to deliver.  If you think about a huge fly-wheel, getting the wheel spinning takes a huge amount of effort.  However, once you have got that wheel spinning, it takes a hugely disproportionate amount of energy to keep it spinning, or even to accelerate it.  You reap greater rewards with much less effort once the thing is going.

The early days of implementing a marketing strategy plan can seem arduous, there is so much to sort out and get in place before you can start to reap the benefits.  However, once you have done the donkey work, you will find that your return on investment will accelerate.

Where a number of businesses go wrong, particularly SMEs, is that they put the effort in to get the wheel turning and start to build momentum and then, for some reason (and it is often due to point 1 – lack of resource) they start to lose momentum, and the wheel starts slowing down.  If you are trying to do it all yourself, the catch 22 is that when you get busy from delivering the work that your marketing has been successful in generating, you begin to market yourself less, which then has a knock-on effect to the momentum of the fly wheel.

#3. Changing external factors

A marketing strategy is always only ever a snapshot of a moment in time.  The strategy you create is correct for your business, at that moment in time with all the information at your disposal and the environment within which you currently operate.  The problem is that the environment within which you operate is always changing.  Just take a look at what has happened in 2020 – who could have foreseen Covid-19 having such as impact on their business when they were mapping out their plans for the year.

Covid-19 is an extreme example but although your own business and its offering may not have dramatically changed, a number of factors could heavily influence customer demand for your products and services.  A heavily backed competitor could have come into the marketplace, social trends may be altering customer behaviour, legislation could come in which may impact demand, new technology could disrupt the market, and the economic climate could have a huge effect.

The key is, at the marketing strategy plan stage, to consider all of the potential impacts on your business which could move the goalposts.  If you have considered these carefully, if they do happen you are in a better position to react swiftly in the best interests of the business.  So many huge organisations have fallen foul by not reacting to changes quick enough.

#4. Losing sight of the customer

A classic mistake which can lead to marketing failure is simply losing sight of the customer and their needs, wants, motivators and stressors.  So many business decisions are made from the business’ perspective, rather than the customer’s perspective.  We are all guilty of naturally looking for ways that make things more efficient or profitable for us, but if that has a detrimental effect on the customer experience, then you need to think twice.

It seems obvious but it is so easy to fall into this trap without recognising it is happening.  Will new technology help or hinder the customer?  Could a change in process make things easier or harder for the customer?  May bundled packages simplify the purchasing process or create customer confusion?

One way to help with these decisions is to get advice from people outside of the business, who will not look at things from the business perspective.  Use advisors, consultants or peer groups to take a look at things from the outside-in.  As a business owner this is always one of the hardest things to do.

#5. Lack of CTAs

When it comes to rolling out your marketing communications, remember the whole point of them is that you are trying to persuade someone to do something.  With this in mind they must have a call to action.

Inbound marketing CTA

Don’t assume people are going to do something just because you have told them how great your business, product or service is.  If you want them to visit your website for more information – make it easy for them to do so and ask them.  Alternatively, if you want them to “buy now” – make it obvious.  Similarly, if you want them to download a brochure or a coupon – tell them.

If there is no call to action at all, guess what will happen – nothing.  Consider when was the last time you actually responded to a marketing communication without being asked to do so?

You could have the best marketing strategy in place, and a clear plan of action which is well resourced, but if your communications fail at the last hurdle, then it will all be wasted investment.

This article is by no means a comprehensive list of all the mistakes that you could lead to marketing failure, but these are some of the most common reasons we come across.  Many of them are reasons why companies engage with outside resource to help them, as they can easily be avoided or overcome with the right approach from the outset.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.
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