The three top reasons marketing fails (and how to avoid them)

Holly Locastro


September 20, 2021

As part of our marketing consulting work we’re often brought in to an organisation to ‘clean up’ marketing activities that are ineffective – AKA ‘marketing fails’.

We go through everything thoroughly – top to bottom, past to present. Sometimes we’re the first ones to really look deeply and holistically at the company’s marketing.

Over time we’ve noticed a distinct pattern that distinguishes the marketing that works with the marketing that doesn’t.

The three reasons marketing fails

There are lots of reasons marketing doesn’t live up to expectations, but three themes that appear time and time again are:

  • Not marketing accurately
  • Not marketing consistently
  • Not marketing enough
  • So how can you get past the slump, stop banging your head against a wall and take your marketing to the next level? Let’s take a look at these three themes and prescribe a few solutions.

1. Not marketing accurately

If you don’t have a B2B marketing strategy and plan, you’re going to end up wandering around aimlessly, throwing all your marketing budget and resources into the latest “fad” rather than those that are actually the right ones for your business.

You may be saying the right thing to the wrong person, or the wrong thing to the right person.

The solution: a marketing strategy

If you want your marketing to work, you need a well researched marketing plan that includes:

  • A deep dive on your audience including detailed customer avatars
  • Customer journey map (a simple one is fine to start with)
  • A section summarising your purpose, brand values, voice, value proposition and USP (we call this a brand story)
  • Key marketing messages – the main selling points of your business
  • Marketing goals and objectives (essential, so that you know what ‘success’ looks like) – it’s important to link these back to business objectives to ensure leadership buy-in
  • Outline of your marketing tactics and how they will be used
  • The key metrics you will report on to judge whether you’re achieving your goals
  • A marketing calendar (how long you’re going to use each tactic for, and how they all fit together – remember some tactics may go on indefinitely)
  • A budget of time and money (including the split of how much of both can be assigned to each tactic)

Did you know?

A note on marketing planning – many businesses are happy to throw money at marketing, but most don’t budget enough time to go with it (yes, even if you work with an agency). How much time you can put in will directly affect the results you’re able to achieve, so budget as much as you possibly can.

How to get it done

It might seem intimidating to write a B2B marketing plan if you’ve never done one before, but it’s achievable if you attack it step-by-step. Start by doing lots of research. Learn everything you can about the current state of your industry and your target audience – remember, it’s not about what everyone else is doing, it’s about what’s going to attract your ideal customer.

If your budget is tight, put the plan together yourself, or if you can – outsource it. It doesn’t matter HOW you get it done, just get it done.

2. Not marketing consistently

Any business can do great marketing for a month. But the truly successful businesses know how to run the marathon, not the sprint. There are so many benefits to consistent marketing:

  • You build an engaged audience gradually that love your brand and what you’re doing
  • If you’re doing regular multi-channel content marketing, search engines will reward you
  • Pressure’s off having to ‘knock it out of the park’ every time
  • You can develop your voice and brand more naturally
  • You can set incremental goals which eventually help you knock over your big ones

The solution: systems + process

I get it – life (and client work) takes over and your own marketing is the first thing to go. However if you don’t get processes in place you’ll never get the systems working, so you need to find the time.

If you can make the most of those ‘down periods’ to get some great processes in place, it won’t be too much trouble to keep your marketing ticking over even when you’re really busy with other stuff. It also makes it easier to delegate down the track.

How to get it done

The right systems will be different for every business, but some common ones I see are:

  • Write a step-by-step guide on how your organisation posts on each social media channel, including the right and wrong ways to format a post. That way you can solicit posts from across the business, and onboard agencies or freelancers super quick.
  • Write a walkthrough of how to create and post a blog, including how you find and allocate SEO keywords, approval processes and the technical side of publishing it.
  • Nail down your agency briefing processes (for each supplier) so requesting some new work is as easy as filling out a form.
  • Create a content strategy and a three-month (at least) plan which includes upcoming dates, events and topics your industry is interested in.
  • Work out a system of measuring whether your content is working, so you can track and optimise as you go. Blog views and social media followers is a fine start, but it’s not going to be your definitive measure. Think beyond those metrics – what is the purpose of your content?

Successful marketing is backed by solid systems. It needs constant and consistent implementation, analysis and revision. Exciting and glamorous? Not really… But it’s the hard truth.

3. Not marketing enough

A term that’s burned into the walls at media agencies is reach and frequency. Reach is how many unique people see your marketing, and frequency is how many times those people see your marketing.

You might also hear the word impressions – this is a digital marketing measurement which covers your total views. For example, if your ad reach is 100, and your impressions are 200, you can assume everyone saw it twice.

You need to strike the right balance of reach and frequency depending on the format of your marketing.

Even if your idea is great, it needs to get out to enough people AND you need those people to see it enough times that it sinks in.

Did you know?

There is such a thing as TOO MUCH frequency. If you’re running a digital ad campaign to a small audience with a large budget, your ads could be showing to people multiple times a day, which will become annoying quickly. Consider having variations on your ads and messaging if you want to run high-budget campaigns.

The solution: time or money

Crafting a message that cuts through and getting it out there in a meaningful way takes a bit of investment. It doesn’t always have to be expensive, but you do have to be on top of delivering your ads and tracking the results.

How to get it done

Hitting the right frequency is all about tracking your ads and optimising your campaigns. Keep tweaking your ads over time for the perfect result.

  • Dive deep into the tracking capabilities of the network you’re advertising on – for example, Facebook, Instagram or Google ads. Most will give you the frequency without you having to try and figure it out for yourself.
  • Have variations of your content or ads so that you can split them up across audiences and see what works best.
  • Put aside the monetary budget to effectively target the audience you want to reach, and the time budget to optimise your campaign over time.

If you have the time, but not the expertise, don’t fumble your way through – steal some ideas from successful marketers! The (DIY) Marketing Project is full of templates, walkthroughs and how-tos from professional marketers who want you and your business to succeed.

If you don’t have the time, take a look at how you can outsource your marketing for great results without the huge effort.

Let’s talk!

Already know what you need? Or just want to kick things off with some advice? Schedule a free video consultation with TMP founder, Holly.
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