Having assisted small, medium and large organizations on marketing projects for a number of years, I’ve watched the same mistakes occur over and over. To be sure, marketing is an inexact science, but if you avoid these errors, your chances of success increase dramatically.

  1. Unwillingness to learn. Marketing best practices change – literally on a monthly basis in the digital arena. Owners and executives become impatient (or physically ill) when confronted with terms like “Google Authorship Markup,” but without a solid knowledge base, how can one make solid decisions? This is especially problematic when combined with the next error.
  2. Unwillingness to delegate. Many firms aren’t willing to trust outside specialists. So many times, I’ve seen great advice go in one ear and out the other as firms embark on elaborate marketing programs doomed from the start. This tendency isn’t restricted to agencies, either. All too often in-house marketers are not given the freedom to create and execute their own plans.
  3. Vague objectives. I love hearing firms say, “We want greater brand awareness with packaging engineers,” or, “We want an email campaign directed at CFOs that persuades them over time to schedule an introductory meeting.” Unfortunately, what we hear more often is, “We need to do social media because our competitors are doing it,” or, “PPC isn’t working; let’s try something else.”
  4. Lousy review process. Blowing off a campaign review is bad enough, but many firms do worse by applying the wrong yardsticks and pulling the plug on programs that should continue. A classic example is when an SEO campaign is halted because it’s not generating enough leads. Well … leads are important, but the job of SEO is to generate traffic. Poor lead generation could be (and often is) a result of poor conversion optimization as opposed to a lack of traffic.
  5. Inability to produce content. Right or wrong, good or bad, content marketing has become an almost unavoidable component of any marketing strategy. Any firm that’s serious about marketing needs at least a skeleton content crew, but the ones that do are few and far between. Marketing without content is like racing a car without gas.

Underlying all of these problems is a perception that marketing is not a “real” business function. No one would dream of overriding a CFO on a critical financial decision; only the worst businesses fail to keep up with accounting best practices and tax law. And what company worth its salt would fail to track and measure sales performance, or judge sales rep’s performance by the color of their hair?

Over to You

Marketing is real business. What common, unreal errors have you experienced that get in the way of marketing success?