What to do when Marketing goes wrong ……

In the ideal world, everything you ever do on the Marketing front will be a rip roaring success. But from time to time things can go wrong for even the best marketers – but then is the time for a calm head and to ask yourself some questions (or ask somebody like us), to help identify what went wrong and how you can improve things in the future.

Here are our 10 top questions to ask yourself, if you find yourself in the situation where marketing has either failed or not lived up to your expectations.

1. Did it really fail? This might seem a daft question but how reliable are your measures for determining the success or otherwise of your marketing? When new enquiries come in or new customers approach you, how rigorous are you at finding out what prompted them to contact you and is this recorded and analysed (not just for this one campaign, but compared with the previous month and the same month the year before). Are you examining the other indicators that might highlight the impact of marketing – an increase in web traffic, an increase in calls or footfall?

2. Was the market there? If your marketing happens to coincide with what is seasonably a poor time or an “event” that might suppress response, then it may not be the marketing tactic that you deployed that was at fault. For many businesses for example, August can be a difficult time to market because so many people are on holiday. If you are marketing to the general public the weather or even clashing with a major sporting event can have an adverse impact.

3. Were your expectations reasonable? This can be one of the most common reasons for marketing to have deemed to have failed. If your gauge or measure for success is beyond what you might reasonably expect, then you are almost doomed to fail. Look back at previous marketing to see whether your expectations are reasonable, ask somebody (not a competitor) what their experience is of using the same form of marketing or get a marketing experts view.

4. Was there a sufficiently strong call to action? For Marketing to work it must take the audience through the four steps of AIDA. You must get their attention, spark their interest, create a desire and get them to take action. Critically self examine your marketing to see whether there is something in it to take a person through these stages – is there a “why now” element that means people won’t put off the decision to another day.

5. Was there sufficient repetition or reinforcement? It can be very rare for a one off isolated form of marketing to work on its own. Put yourself in the place of your customer if they have never heard of you before, it is quite a tough task to create awareness, build trust and persuade the customer they want what you have to offer, all in one go. This is why larger businesses will model and evaluate the number of times somebody needs to see an advert to respond, so that they can buy their media more effectively. Ask yourself could/should your campaign be multi-stage i.e. direct mail, email, call or should it be integrated i.e. press/radio, online, social media and PR.

6. Was the marketing method wrong? Do you really have a very clearly defined view of who your target customer is and is the marketing method a good fit for this audience? Somebody targeting young female consumers would choose a very different form of marketing to somebody targeting say, recently retired. When you are buying media do not disclose details of your target audience, but do ask the sales person to describe or outline their audience so that you can then compare it with your profile.

7. Was your Marketing affected by competitor activity? So for example if you run an advert in a publication or on a website where there are 2 or 3 competitors advertising at the time – this will divide response. You will be particularly badly affected if somebody has a much bigger presence or is running a better offer. Equally though don’t fall for the sales trick of “you will be the only business of your kind in the publication” (an easy promise for some to make and begs the question why).

8. Is all lost? If you have had enquiries but they have not turned into business, might there be any residual value in these? Depending on the industry concerned it can be surprising how great a proportion of people that make an enquiry but then do not go on to make a purchase (even with somebody else). If this was a big campaign consider surveying those that enquired but who did not go on to buy, to seek their views.

9. The “but it has always worked before” syndrome. If you are still using the same forms of marketing that you were say, three years ago, then you may be missing a trick. There has been a major shift in marketing spend for example from more traditional methods to digital ones. The traditional methods still have their place but maybe the time is right to re-evaluate the methods you are using and the split of your spend. Fortunately with many of the alternatives available they can be relatively inexpensive to “dip your toe in the water” and can also be highly measurable.

10. Would expert help be of any benefit? Because we all consume marketing on a day to day basis it can be all too easy to form a view on a form of marketing – what we like to call a “focus group of one” (which is something you would not be advised to run). Sometimes an external expert can view things in a way that it would not be possible for somebody who is either not a marketing expert or tainted by being on the inside. If any of the points in this blog have made you think, then imagine how this kind of insight might feel if it were tailored to your business and industry. This is one of the reasons we find our Marketing Audits to be so popular.

Hopefully we have given you some food for thought in this blog. Overall we would say don’t get down because of failure, use it as a springboard to reflect on it and look for ways to improve your marketing in the future. Of course if you come to the conclusion that you might need our help, then we would be delighted to hear from you.