Common Points of Failure for Marketing Organizations (And How to Avoid Them)

Updated: May 20, 2010

  • Not enough (or any) focus on quantifiable, revenue-driven results: It's bad enough that some marketing organizations don't measure the work they do. What's more (and possibly worse) is that oftentimes those measurements aren't ultimately (even indirectly) tied to a revenue event. Everything the business does, including marketing, should have a story behind it that ultimately drives to revenue. If what you're doing doesn't, and you can't measure it, make sure it's still worth doing.
  • No focus on customer outcomes: Does your marketing material focus more on features than benefits? Do you talk more about yourself and your products than the customer? Does your messaging make it easy for customers to envision what success looks like, what the outcome of doing business with you will be? Communicate in terms of customer outcomes, not how you get there. Put a focus on the ends, not the means.
  • Not using the entire organization to help with marketing: Marketing is too important to leave to the marketers. Anyone on the front lines with your customers (sales, customer support, even tech support) is now in marketing. Your entire company, if you work it right, now works for you. How will you harness that power, passion and energy to your advantage?
  • Not communicating: Too often, marketing teams don't communicate well enough or often enough - with each other, and with others outside their organization in the company. Easiest way to fix this is to communicate more often. Plan more regular updates to key constituents on projects, metrics, milestones and what's ahead. This will save you hours of headaches and conversations down the road (even if it takes a few minutes to write up that report now).
  • Not prioritizing: Companies big and small rarely starve from lack of opportunity and ideas. Most of the time, they drown. You will always have too much to do, but you need to triage and prioritize religiously based on what's most important to the business. The right projects aren't always sexy and sometimes aren't the most popular. But by using objective, revenue-based criteria, you can choose and justify your prioritization so you're getting the right things done and accelerating growth.
  • Spending too much money: Whatever budget you have today, you have more than you need. Seriously. Yes, you may want more to fund more programs. But you could achieve more with less. Assume you're a start-up with no funding, but with the same goals. Get creative. Get scrappy. Get going.
  • Not failing enough: Most marketing organizations don't fail enough, which is a byproduct of not testing enough. And only by testing (and failing) will you discover the new, innovative ways to accelerate the performance of your marketing programs and growth/revenue goals.
  • Focusing on customer events instead of long-term relationships: It's often easier for marketing organizations to think in terms of events - product launches, press releases, direct mail campaigns and the like. But in your customer's eyes, these make up a longer-term narrative of communication, and can have a lasting impact (good or bad) on the relationship you both enjoy. Make sure you've thought through the relationship you want to have with your customers (and prospects, and partners), and ensure all individual events & campaigns are at minimum filtered through that lens.
  • Not testing (all the time): You should always be testing. Sending an email? Test two subject lines to gauge the highest open rate. Got a new product or feature idea? Run it by a handful of customers first. Trying a new sales offer? Put it on the sales floor with a handful of trusted reps today to make sure it doesn't flop. Tests come in big and small sizes, but they're vital to ensuring what you ultimately spend time/money on (and launch broadly) will have the maximum effect.
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