Marketing fails without proper care

  • Wed Mar 26th, 2014 10:26am

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say “my marketing plan didn’t work” … well, I wouldn’t be rich but I’d certainly have a boatload of nickels.

There are five primary reasons that marketing plans fail to deliver intended results.

Is your marketing plan meeting your expectations? If not, it is likely because of one or more of these situations. Developing a strategic marketing plan is fundamental to succeeding in today’ increasingly competitive marketplace.

But just going through the motions, to check it off the to-do list, won’t amount to a measurable impact.

Planning isn’t a “to-do,” it is an ongoing process that should be updated as your business situation and external environment evolve.

A leading management consultant, Ron Carucci, managing partner of Navalent Consulting, suggests, “A strategic plan begins depreciating immediately; the value is in the planning, not the plan.”

The shelf life of a marketing plan has definitely become shorter, and the process is more important than the product; however, there are other conditions at play. Following is my top five list of why marketing plans (and business plans for that matter) fail.

1. Pre-planning

The No. 1 flaw I come across is a lack of pre-planning, and the absence of the data that is so essential to developing and validating solid strategy.

Your planning participants need to have a common understanding of both the internal and external factors that have the potential for impacting your business.

Before you begin the planning process, gather the data that will inform the planning team by conducting your situation analysis and market research.

2. Participation

Not having the right people at the planning table usually rears its ugly head during implementation.

Determine upfront who should participate in the planning process and then make it happen. Many objectives and strategies cross departmental or functional lines, so integrators and executors should be involved. And don’t limit your planning team to just “internal” stakeholders. When we develop strategic marketing plans for our clients, we often involve their customers.

3. Focus

The lack of focus, in terms of launching strategic initiatives, fragments resources and hampers productivity. It is far better to do a few things well then many things poorly. It’s a natural tendency for management to push the envelop. So keep in mind that many projects burn more human and financial capital than originally planned. Don’t set yourself and your team up for failure by trying to do too many things.

4. Execution

Planning is often perceived as a daunting task. Consequently, there is an inclination among participants to breathe a sigh of relief once the planning process has concluded. Yet, that is when the real work needs to begin. In many cases, when conducting post-mortems, I find that the marketing plan was well prepared; but the plan wasn’t fully executed.

A well conceived and framed strategy is useless if it isn’t supported by specific tactics.

It is critical to delineate who will do what be when.

5. Accountability

Objectives are not often aligned to performance metrics. Nobody argues that measurements and control aren’t essential to executing a plan. But many of the plans I’ve seem don’t do an adequate job of aligning organizational goals to individual performance objectives.

Without that tether, accountability is difficult at best.

Be sure that the linkage between objectives and performance are clearly understood and monitored by management and staff.

For your marketing plan to deliver measurable results, be sure to do the pre-planning, involve the right people, remain focused on the top priorities and develop a supporting action plan that holds everyone within the organization accountable.

When your marketing plan includes these five elements, you’ll likely exceed your expectations.

Andrew Ballard is the president of Marketing Solutions, a local agency specializing in growth strategies. For more information, call 425-337-1100 or go to