5 Ways Your Strategic Marketing May Fail (And How to Avoid It)

Today, I want to talk about failures…or potential failures. Really, I’m hoping to give you enough food for thought so that you can ensure your marketing plans DON’T fail. But, before you can do that, let me dive into 5 reasons why it might fail…and how to avoid it.

You’re Not Measuring Against Goals

Your strategic marketing needs to be rooted in goals. What are you measuring? What do you want to happen? What are you working towards? Think about the entire reason you’re marketing something in the first place. Once you set one big goal, you can come up with smaller, incremental goals to help you get there. Then, you can map specific parts of your marketing plan to these goals, so all of your efforts are being put towards something specific. 

You’re Reactive Not Proactive

When you’re creating your marketing plan, don’t think about what happened last year. Instead, expand on that. Consider what trends you saw happening last year and what industry thought leaders (including yourself and your team!) think will happen this year. Be proactive and use these predictions to inform your strategy. You can always pivot based on what actually unfolds, but thinking big won’t hurt you. If you only focus on past occurrences (what I can rinsing and repeating), you’re only solving last year’s problems or none at all.

You’re Focused on What You Know

You could create a plan based solely on what you know. Or you could base your plan on what you don’t know. Seems counterintuitive, but let me explain. If you’re only creating a plan based on what you know (like numbers from last year, or a concept that previously performed well, or using technology that’s tried and true) you’re less likely to have big success. Instead, if you think about what you don’t know (with the help of an outside source or expert or even an internal brainstorming team), then you can start to plan for bigger. And if you’re thinking bigger, then you have a chance at bigger successes. 

What you don’t know can be something you know is coming, like a new piece of legislation or new technology, but it’s not enacted or proven yet. It might feel weird to plan against something that’s in its infancy, but being an early adopter can offer you bigger success.

You Don’t Have an Execution Plan 

If you have a marketing plan, you also need a plan on how you will execute the plan. As you’re creating your plan, delegate responsibilities to people or teams. Then ask them to come back with their plan of attack and how and when they can execute their tasks. Discuss as an entire group and allow space for questions or feedback. The most important thing is to have guidelines and tasks in place for each team, at each step of the project. Without any guidelines on how you want to achieve something, it is much harder to align and execute.

You Don’t Keep Your Audience in Mind

If you’re talking to the wrong person about the wrong thing (or oftentimes I see people talking to themselves), you won’t meet any of the goals you’ve set out for yourself. That would be like sending a volunteer-focused newsletter to donors who’ve opted out of donating their time. Make sure your marketing communications have your intended audience in mind. Use the demographic data that you have from your donor list to inform when, how, and where you’re reaching people. This is something you know—and you should use it! 

I don’t want anyone’s marketing plans to fail, so I hope these 5 DON’Ts will help you figure out your organization’s DO’s. What other ways have caused your marketing plans to fail? Comment below or email me at julia@fiveones.com.