Seven Ways Marketers Shoot Themselves in the Foot

shoot footSometimes the best-laid plans can go awry. A marketer can spend weeks planning the perfect campaign and something completely out of his or her control sabotages it.

On January 17, 1991, I visited a catalog mail order client who had put together a spectacular marketing campaign. It was their in-home date (predictable, but not controllable) for their catalog, they were supporting it with television direct response spots, and the President of the company was scheduled to appear on a national news show. Everything was in place to kick off a great sales year.

You could feel the excitement went you walked through the door. People were smiling, happy with anticipation. The company had just finished a triple digit growth year. Every employee had received good bonuses. The plans for 1991 included increases in compensation based on growth and profitability. Everything was perfect.

Or, so we thought.

Operation Desert Storm began the night before. The company President’s national appearance was cancelled. Catalogs arrived at homes where people were glued to the television watching CNN’s live coverage. The advertising spots were useless. No one was interested in buying anything.

The thing I remember most was the silence in the call center. When people realized that the telephones weren’t ringing, their emotions plummeted. The call center team members periodically picked up the handsets to see if there was a dial tone. After about twenty minutes of silence, there was an incoming call. It was the director of operations calling to verify that the telephone system was working.

When you are a marketer, things happen that are beyond your control.

They are explainable and manageable. But, there are many things that reduce marketing effectiveness that can be avoided. Here are seven items you can prevent:

  1. Over promising and under delivering – Marketers tend to do this to customers and company executives. It’s better to under promise and over deliver. If this means that you don’t get that extra budget money, so be it. Your reputation for delivering will grow and you’ll get a whole lot more.
  2. Dismissing marketing tools as ineffective because you don’t know how to use them – Social media is not a fad, direct marketing is not dead, email promotions are not spam, and mobile isn’t something for the future. Each of these tools is effective and efficient if they are used well. Learn how to use new tools and test them in your marketing strategy to find the ones that work best for your business.
  3. Complaining about the customer care team – These people can be your best friends or worst enemies. Your actions determine their role. Constantly complaining and blaming them for marketing issues makes lifelong enemies. Working with them to find solutions makes great friends. You need them. Start building the bridge to an integrated marketing and customer care strategy today.
  4. Presuming that the customer analytics that worked last year are still effective – Customer behavior is rapidly changing. Failing to recognize that and adapting as needed will cost you market share and profitability. If you haven’t been digging into your data lately, get started.
  5. Thinking that customer lifetime value and lifespan aren’t important enough to measure – If you don’t know the lifetime value, you have no idea how much you can spend to acquire a customer. If you don’t know the lifespan, you don’t know when to stop marketing. Being ignorant in either or both eats away at your profits. If you don’t know how to measure them, find someone who does.
  6. Focusing on the conversation while forgetting about the conversion – The purpose of business is to generate profits by serving customers. How many times does someone say, “That was a great conversation. Let me give you some money?” Never heard that one? Me, either. Conversations can lead to sales if you guide them. Mindless chatter is just noise.
  7. Blaming decreases in sales and profitability on the economy – Yes, things are financially challenging. Your job as a marketer is to find a way around it. If sales are decreasing and it’s beyond your control, then costs have to decline, too. Or, you could reinvent your marketing strategy, find new customers, and improve relationships with existing ones. I personally prefer Plan B.

Many of the things that derail a marketing strategy are temporary. Deal with them and move on. Investing your time in the strategies that improve sales, service, and relationships is a lot more fun.

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