What Causes Marketing Campaigns To Fail?
One of the most effective tools in brand building and awareness is the marketing campaign. The concept is simple enough: this is a coordinated approach to market a specific brand and/or product to a specific audience through specific mediums. Sounds simple, right? You coordinate your marketing efforts and put your budget to the best use and that’s that.
But a well-executed marketing campaign can be tricky. Understanding your audience, your goals, and the tools at your disposal is only part of the battle. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons a marketing campaign might fail, along with how to make sure yours doesn’t fall into any of the traps listed below.
Managed expectations are a hot topic covered by anyone and everyone across fields. WebMd discusses how unrealistic expectations can be damaging for your mental health, and experts across economic sectors show how setting the bar too high is bad for morale, weakening team performance, and, ultimately, your company. The difficult but achievable goal is to challenge your marketing team without making unattainable goals.
First, establish the following:
- Who does what? – The first big hurdle with expectations, whether you work with a marketing team, or you’re a one-person-show, is understanding who is responsible for which tasks and by when. Make each person’s expectations crystal clear at the outset and set designated check-in points for status updates.
- Understand your limits – We all have a finite set of resources, make sure that you understand where those limitations are. You still want to push yourself to reach your goals, but make sure they are measured according to the time, effort, and money you can invest.
- Understand your mediums’ limits – Just like you, the mediums we put our marketing campaign into have their own limitations. Take the time to make sure that the medium is the best choice for meeting your goals and understand how it will help you achieve them.
- Develop a Growth Mindset – Even unmet expectations can turn into a win…if you are willing to analyze mistakes and learn from them.
Unclear Goals or Metrics
Tangible goals and metrics are the action that drives end points you want your marketing campaign to achieve. Just like expectations, you want the outcomes to be realistic. The problem is, everyone might have a different idea of what that means, and if you aren’t setting clear and measurable goals, your marketing campaign is likely to end up a little blah! You can overcome that with a few simple steps:
- Make your goals SMART – You might have come across several different meanings for the acronym, but they all (largely) embody the important link between achievement and goal setting. When you set goals, being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based helps clarify what accomplishing a market campaign will do, how to measure its success, and the time frame it should take place in. Establishing these helps you build a better, more clear blueprint to build a campaign from.
- Avoid the abstract – Audience engagement sounds great, right? Sure, but you and I probably have slightly different ideas of what that means. Break out of using marketing jargon and communicate concrete goals and metrics.
- Find a baseline – do a little research before setting expectations. Understand the results similar marketing campaigns have yielded for you (and your close competitors) in the past.
Marketing to the Wrong Target Audience
Marketing is selling an idea, whether that is a brand, an image, or a specific product, marketing connects you to the people who have a need your brand can meet. In the Wolf of Wall Street, the simple illustration of a pen is used. You can have all the right goals. You can have perfectly reasonable expectations. You can have a perfectly crafted set of ads.
However, if you are sharing your brand and products with people who have no interest or need, your campaign will fall flat on its face. If you want details on how to find your target audience, check out our post: “How To Identify the Target Audience for Your Brand”, but here are some quick tips to consider:
- Who are your current clients?
- What need does your brand fulfill?
- What level of purchasing power do you appeal to?
- Are there geographical restrictions? Are you expanding or growing?
These questions should help get you started.
Marketing with Too Little Research
We’ve touched briefly on the importance of research for setting SMART goals and finding your target audience, but don’t forget that research can impact your campaign’s timing (discussed in more detail in the next section), as well as the language you use to craft your marketing material and the product’s viability. The best part about marketing campaigns in today’s world is that you can collect research in real-time as well. Don’t be afraid to use that data and adjust course; don’t get trapped in the sunk cost fallacy either. Here are some data points that can help shape your campaign:
- PR & Survey Data – Making this step 1 in your marketing campaign can help focus your strategy.
- Market & Industry Trends –Read key publications that are looking at what’s next.
- Economic Trends – Ask yourself how inflation, employment, and disposable income might impact your brand.
- Politics – You don’t need to be directly involved, but you can gain a lot of insights on what people value and what they are afraid of by paying attention to local political trends.
For more details on research, check out our “Factors That Can Impact Customer Engagement for Your Brand”.
Bad Delivery Timing
Marketing is a lot like comedy – timing is everything. Nothing is a more successful marketing campaign than the right message at the right time. A message is affected by the audience hearing it, including when that audience hears it. Some events will be out of your control and no amount of planning can change that, but if you go in blind, you will set your campaign up for failure. The right timing is all about finding a cultural pulse. Working with award-winning influencers can be a great way to leverage cultural cache and timing. Here are some additional tips to help you find the right pulse:
- Use your research – Surveys and trends can give you valuable cultural insights.
- Box Office performance – It seems strange, but style, aesthetics, and appeal are what movies are all about. Ignore the professional opinions from critics and focus on what most people want right now.
- Listen – You, your neighbors, and your connections are part of the cultural current.
- Pivot – We already mentioned the sunk cost fallacy. Avoiding that means being ready to pivot when the winds shift – if you can make needed changes fast enough you will miss out on potential upswings, but be careful. You don’t want to mistake a momentary blip for an about face.
Inconsistent or Confusing Branding
The human mind is hard-wired for narrative. That means we like clear and coherent through-lines of thought. Remember, a marketing campaign is a miniature narrative you are presenting to potential customers, clients, and consumers. One of the worst things that can happen to a marketing campaign is that the message gets lost in a jumble of signals.
If you do a social media campaign, you don’t want ads showing up someone’s three times and looking like they are from three different companies. Take the time to carefully put together visual and language cues that come from the same family of origin. There can be subtle differences in different pieces, but, ultimately, you want everything to turn back to that core and unique aspect of your brand, and to consistently reinforce that visually and verbally with clear and clean branding.
Lack of Visibility
A lack of visibility will make any marketing campaign dead in the water. The whole purpose of marketing is to make your brand seen and heard, but if you cannot build traction in the right channels, you’ll end up shouting into the great big void of the internet. This can happen from a minimal organic social media reach, or by missing the target audience your campaign will most connect with. The good news is that there are some simple visibility boosting steps you can take before starting your next campaign:
- Work with influencer marketing experts – People familiar with building awareness and creating visible campaigns can cut through added time, effort, and research to help make sure your campaign is seen, heard, and connected with.
- Expand your presence – Social media algorithms pay attention to activity. If you are not actively posting and commenting, you’ll end up at the bottom of people’s feeds when you do post.
- Connect – Don’t just focus on posting in social media, but actually engage with your community’s content as well.
Still a little overwhelmed with how to go about your influencer marketing? Write to us for help and 5 Years Apart will put together a proven plan that works specifically for you.