Great marketing requires a great plan. If you make fundamental mistakes in creating that plan, everything going forward is going to be flawed. Does this mean that things are doomed to failure?
No, but shouldn’t your sights be set a bit higher? You’ll spend significant time, money, and resources executing your marketing plan.
Get the most out of your efforts by avoiding these common mistakes:
Relying too much on high-investment activities
If something looks really promising, you may be tempted to throw the lion’s share of your marketing budget behind it. Whether that’s placing a television ad during a major sporting event, doing a major mass mailing, renting a huge space at an event or trade show, or something else, spending the majority of your money on just a couple of high investment marketing options is almost always a mistake.
This is primarily because doing so forces you to engage your audience through just one channel. In many cases, it also limits the time you have to engage your target audience. After all, once the event is done, it’s done. Instead, reach out to potential customers at all stages of the customer journey through your website, blog, social media pages, and paid advertising. You’ll create more meaningful engagement, and any failures will be much less devastating.
Failing to have a living written marketing plan
All too often, brands develop an initial marketing plan, but that plan never becomes a document. If it does become a document, it never evolves as the company grows and its goals change. A marketing plan should be treated like any other company document outlining policies and procedures.
A marketing plan should include the company’s mission statement and goals as they relate to marketing. It should outline areas of responsibility. Then there are the more technical things. Fonts, color schemes, logos must all be held in a central repository so that advertising and other marketing efforts are consistent with branding.
Experts agree that even the technologies that the marketing department will use to communicate, to create content, to publish, etc. should be defined within the written marketing plan.
Emulating the strategies of competitors
Think about companies that are famously great at marketing. Whether they are humorous (Charmin, Geico, and Wendy’s), inspirational (Nike, Dove, and Barbie), or touching (Budweiser), there is no doubt they make their mark with both paid and unpaid marketing efforts. It may be tempting to style your company’s marketing after one of these examples.
That’s not a good idea. For example, imagine if McDonald’s or KFC decided to emulate Wendy’s now famous style of witty comebacks and playful insults. Their marketing wouldn’t seem edgy or interesting, it would just be derivative.
This isn’t to say that it’s bad to use other brands for inspiration. It’s just that it’s even more important to maintain branding integrity and to put your own spin on things.
Not implementing testing and analysis methodologies
Between blogging, laying out articles, engaging with customers, creating infographics, filming videos for your YouTube channel, and ensuring your landing pages are visually appealing, marketing can feel like more art than science. In spite of this, at the end of the day, data is all that matters.
“It’s imperative that you are able to track and quantify the results of your campaigns. Then, you can take that information and use it to adjust accordingly,” shares Stephen Larson, a social media specialist at Canada-Writers.
Tools such as Google Analytics can be used to collect data on traffic, time on page, bounce rates, and other factors that can indicate the success of your campaigns. Many social platforms also have analytics tools for advertisers. Finally, it’s imperative to make A/B tests and collect user feedback information before launching campaigns on a large scale. This allows for small changes based on that feedback.
Failing to target campaigns
It’s rare for a company to have a singular target demographic. Most have at least a few. This is why it is imperative to pinpoint your social media campaigns, create content that is relevant for all of your target personas, and ensure that your marketing plan takes all of this into consideration.
Keep in mind that different target personas may:
- Prefer to engage with you on different social media platforms
- Respond better to certain types of content and not others
- Prioritize different things in your relationship with them
Not involving the right people in the planning process
A great marketing plan is built on great information. This is more than just the information that is under the care and control of the marketing team.
“There is information and insights from all over an organization that can be used to create a better-informed marketing plan that has a better chance of being successful. To ensure that this happens, it’s imperative that people from other business areas are involved in the process,” explains Amanda Sparks, digital marketer and author of Top Down Writer blog.
- Retail and customer support staff who understand customer characteristics and sentiments.
- Salespeople who have experience working with leads generated from past campaigns
- Production leaders and designers who understand the products and services best
- Financial team members who can provide a realistic budget picture.
Failing to create policies and procedures within the marketing team
While it’s great to get employees involved with social media, some of the more embarrassing corporate gaffes have involved employees going out of bounds using company sanctioned social media accounts. This is where clearly written policies and procedures come in. They are an important part of marketing planning. Policies and procedures should define:
- Which employees must authorize expenses and what the limits of those expenses are.
- The employees that are authorized to address the media or make statements on behalf of the company.
- Procedures to follow when posting content to social media pages.
- Employees that are authorized to post on social media accounts on behalf of the company and the accounts they must use when doing so.
- Procedures to follow if embarrassing or harmful content is posted
Ultimately, the best way to avoid common mistakes in marketing planning is to commit to having one in the first place. It should be a document that is continually updated and referenced. The plan should outline specifically how each customer persona should be targeted, and data should be used to measure results. Finally, it should outline concrete policies and procedures.