Over the past decade, we’ve seen it all and done it all in the marketing world, and one thing we come across over and over is an absent marketing strategy in a business that’s marketing all over the place — and then some.
Maybe their marketing strategy woke up sick that quarter. Maybe it just wanted to stay home and watch reruns of the Great British Baking Show. Maybe it finally decided to go full goblin mode and retire from society.
For whatever reason, these businesses have no marketing strategy to speak of, and yet, somehow, bizarrely, strangely, insanely, they’re still marketing anyway.
And this causes all kinds of serious problems that impact your bottom line, bring growth to a screeching halt, and generally keep you from reaching your goals.
Here are 9 of the major marketing strategy failures that ultimately harm your business.
1. You Waste a Ton of Resources on the Wrong Type of Marketing
This is probably the biggest reason to have a marketing strategy — if you don’t, you could end up spending enormous amounts of money on something that’s taking you in the wrong direction.
Here’s a scenario we see all the time.
Someone in the business way back when decided to run some social media ads.
They sort of worked.
So they kept doing it.
And we don’t just mean spending a couple hundred bucks a month on some Facebook ads — we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars spent every month on marketing efforts that have no particular direction, no master plan, no nothing.
Finally, someone says, “Hey… it seems like we’re not getting great results… maybe we should bring in some marketing experts?”
We come in, and when we’re like, “What kind of results are you getting from those Facebook ads?” they say, “Oh… uh… we don’t really know.”
When we ask, “Well… is it working at least?” they say, “It doesn’t seem like it.”
Yeah, that’s bad, but even worse is when they say something like this: “It’s kind of working, but we’re getting a lot of people who aren’t a good fit for us.”
So you spent all this time and money on these ads that are getting you the wrong customers?!
Now you’ve got some serious problems. Not only have you wasted significant resources, but you’ve actually built the wrong brand.
People are seeing your ads and thinking about your business the wrong way. Maybe the product or service you want to push most is failing because of this. Maybe the one that costs you the most time, energy, and money to produce is the one everyone thinks of when they think of you.
Your marketing has actively harmed your business.
If you’d just had a strategy, you could have ensured that people were seeing the right message in the right place at the right time, that you weren’t just throwing ads out there and taking whatever you could get.
2. You Burn Out on Marketing Completely
This is something else we hear all the time.
“Marketing doesn’t work, and we’d know ’cause we tried it!”
It’s almost impossible to hide the eye-rolling at this point.
When you don’t start with strategy, when you don’t have clear goals, when there’s no end in sight, when don’t have a full understanding of how long it will take for your strategy to ramp up and be successful, you’ll probably quit before you see any results.
A good marketing strategy includes key performance indicators to track, tactics to implement if things aren’t working, clear directions on when and how to pivot or when to double down, and the expectations you should have for success or failure.
Without these, it’s easy to do some form of marketing for months or years and then just say, “Nothing works! I quit!”
And your business suffers as a result.
3. You Quit Before Your Marketing Has Time to Succeed
Almost the opposite of burning out is when you’re all over the map, trying every marketing strategy known to mankind and a few we don’t know either.
You do this lightning fast, pivoting from one type of marketing to the next to the next until you puke.
You don’t give anything time to give you results. You market for a week, maybe a month, then on to the next thing, leaving a trail of failure that probably would have worked if you’d given it time.
If you had a strategy in place from the beginning with clear expectations, direction, and goals, maybe you would have stuck it out and given it time to work.
When you have no direction and you’re just out there marketing like a crazy person, it’s bound to fail.
4. You Can’t Track Anything and Have no Clue If Your Marketing Is Working
This is one of the big ones.
If you can’t track it, it doesn’t exist — we didn’t come up with that, someone important did, but they were right.
If you don’t know what your key performance indicators are, how in the heck are you going to know if your marketing is working or not?!
If you’re spending thousands of dollars or more on marketing, don’t you think you should have a really clear idea of how hard those dollars are working?
We live in a world where you can track anything and everything. There’s no reason for this to be happening.
5. You’re Missing Major Problems in Your Business
Another truly major marketing strategy failure is when you’re focused on marketing so much that you don’t realize your business needs to make some serious changes before you bother to market anything.
Basically, you’re marketing something you shouldn’t be marketing at all.
We see this all the time — someone who is marketing a product that’s priced all wrong. They can’t figure out why no one will buy. If they had taken the time to examine their pricing strategy, their marketing would be working.
Just think of all those poor marketing dollars wasted….
Sometimes it’s marketing a service that, if you’d taken the time to think about your vision for the future, you would have realized that this service is going to have to go soon.
Sometimes it’s marketing a product that’s not worth selling at all.
Sometimes it’s the realization that you’re targeting the wrong people, you’re in the wrong market, or you’ve built the wrong brand.
When these deeper problems are fixed through a clear marketing strategy, suddenly your marketing starts working a lot better.
6. You’re Missing Major Opportunities
Everything we’ve talked about — getting burned out, wasting resources, marketing all over the place, not examining your brand, audience, and offerings — when these things are happening, you’re blind to other opportunities that crop up, or you’re unable to act on them when they do.
Maybe there’s a change in technology in your industry that you can’t jump on because you’re so focused elsewhere.
Maybe a new hire comes along who has a different skillset that it would be really smart to exploit.
Maybe your target market changes in such a drastic way that you need to pivot your offerings to match it.
If you’re dealing with all these other issues, you’ll never see these big opportunities coming — you’ll just hear the whoosh as they fly past.
7. You Didn’t Plan for the Long Term
We work with many business owners who are getting ready to exit their business and are trying to figure out how to sell the thing.
They run into all kinds of problems.
One big one is that they’ve built their whole brand around themselves. People don’t want to work with the business — they want to work with the owner!
When the owner leaves, so do the customers.
Another one is that they’ve built a business that’s heavily dependent on them. Even if customers would stick around for the business when they left, the business would fall apart without them.
There are tons of problems too numerous to list that come from not planning for the future. When you create a long-term marketing strategy for your business, you can start moving in the right direction now instead of having to try to figure things out where you’re ready to retire.
8. You’re Not Having Fun
We can’t believe we have to say this, but marketing should be fun!
When you get your monthly marketing report, it should be the kind of thing you read while sipping a piña colada on the beach (or a tallboy in your office… after 5 pm of course), the kind of thing that brings a smile to your face, the kind of thing you can’t wait to see.
It shouldn’t be something you dread because it’s never good news.
Not having a clear marketing strategy ensures that your marketing will be half-butted at best. You’re not going to be having fun, you’ll be frustrated with everyone involved, and you’ll wonder why you bothered in the first place.
9. Your Relationship with Your Marketing Team Sucks
When you’re doing all of the above, an inevitable and sucky consequence is that you’re going to end up hating your marketing team.
And the feeling will probably be mutual.
They have no roadmap to follow. They’re just doing what you tell them. Your expectations are probably unrealistic, which means they’re set up to fail.
Then you yell at them for failing, and they get resentful.
Internal team, external team, doesn’t matter — if you give someone an impossible timeframe for an unachievable task, everyone is going to get the Big Sad.
With a clear strategy, they’ll know what to do, the expectations will be reasonable, and then if they succeed, that’s great, but if they fail, it doesn’t ruin the relationship — they can regroup (if you want to let them), or you can part ways with no animosity.
Without a marketing strategy, with a team that feels like they’re under the gun to get unrealistic results, you end up pushing that team away, which means that all the time, energy, and resources you spent getting them up to speed were wasted.
Which means you have to onboard someone new, or find a new agency, who then has to try to pick up the pieces, and then will probably fail too.
This doesn’t work for anyone.
Obviously You Know the Answer to All This Mess — Get a Strategy STAT!
Look folks, all of this can be avoided with a high-quality marketing strategy.
Which, you know, we just happen to be experts at putting together.
Learn more about our Vision Value Model that we use to create a powerful, detailed, long-term strategy custom-designed to lead your business to success.