Marketing: Getting it Done

Seven reasons your marketing stinks.

We in the general marketing industry have an abysmal record for completing marketing campaigns and plans. The average small business has never had a plan to complete, but even those who take some time to write a plan often don’t execute all of the elements.

This leads to failed execution and little or no business. Here are the reasons:

  1. The plan itself is an exercise that is not taken seriously or is part of developing a budget.
  2. The marketing budget is really a top limit of how much the controller will permit to be spent.
  3. Sales forecasts are top down, not bottom up. “Let’s shoot for a 5% increase in revenue.”

For these three reasons, the marketing plan is doomed as soon as the ink is dry (or the document is saved). Once it is paraded at a managers’ or owners’ meeting it goes in a nice binder and the writer gets a star for her work.

Real marketing plans are built to work, and calculated to need each element to ensure the goals are met.

Controllers are trained to not trust the marketing people so they cut the budget to take out the “fat.” The marketing people in turn over build the marketing plan so they will get the budget they really need. This dance takes place in companies of all sizes and only finally works when professional marketing managers clearly work with top management to build detailed and goal-oriented plan that all agree on beforehand.

These rare, great marketing plans have full details of each element, activity, production standards and deadlines for campaigns. They are not creative concepts as advertising agencies love to do, but more like road maps to production plans that spell out performance timelines.

When a good plan is meddled with or not completed, a piece of the strategy is gone, making the plan less likely to work.

Today, many think that the “new” economy is so fluid that no planning is required, that “you have to watch and adjust to the environment all the time.” OK, fine, plan those few elements that really have this characteristic that way. This is a very small part of the overall marketing activity, from sales to customer service. Sure, viral videos do happen, and they can cause adjustments in labor, or PR to be made, but they tend to be extremely rare and have little impact on sales. If it happens it’s a plus, but no plan should rely on becoming “viral.”

  1. The company does not provide enough resources to get it all done. Too many smaller companies have one or two people who are expected to do everything. Additional duties are assigned to them, which pulls them away from completing the plan. Owners commit to doing part of the work, but they rarely get it all done, usually due to other duties.
  2. Priorities. Businesses too often believe that everything else is more important than marketing, when marketing is, in fact, the most important priority. You will need no factory or customer service if you have no customers.
  3. It’s too complicated. At least five distinct skills are required to complete the marketing job. No one person has all of them, so without help, part of the execution is poor or amateurish. Get outside help.
  4. Instant performance is expected. Selling is more instant, but positioning, branding and reputation are long term projects. Many owners pull the plug way too soon. The average marketing job is just two years in duration. This is because owners hire poor marketers, AND don’t let good ones finish the plan. Turning a battle ship in stream is difficult; it takes time, just as getting a jet to fly requires more than a tea spoon of fuel.

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