When it comes to marketing, even the best of us get it wrong sometimes. Why? Well, marketing is equal parts science and art, which means that even top dollar campaigns with the smartest strategies and best people behind them fall flat sometimes. While you can’t predict with certainty whether your next campaign will be a hit, you can learn from others’ mistakes.
We all know mistakes are great learning experiences, but let’s be honest: it’s a whole lot safer to let other people mess up first, then reap the knowledge! With that in mind, I’m sharing five common marketing strategy mistakes that cause good content to tank—avoid these blunders at all costs if you want your content to have its best fighting chance.
1. Ignoring data
Marketing without being smart about your data is like scaling Mount Everest with a blindfold on—you won’t make it very far (and neither will your budget).
Have you tracked the way past campaigns have performed? When you made tweaks to those campaigns, did you alter just one factor at a time so you could measure the change in performance? Do you track your target consumers’ habits and behaviors? All of these data points are key in determining how to spend your marketing budget most effectively so that you’re releasing the right content to the right people at the right time.
2. Cutting corners
Another common marketing pitfall is focusing too much on keeping costs down. It’s true that every marketer has a budget to stick to, but your goal as a marketer isn’t to get things done as cheaply as possible—it’s to get the best return from every ad spend.
To minimize risk, I recommend running a small test ahead of a campaign you’re not sure will perform the way you want it to. If the test generates profit or customers—whichever is important to you—at an acceptable cost per acquisition, it’s safe to scale that campaign.
3. Only using “comfortable” marketing channels
When it comes to marketing channels, we all play favorites sometimes. Most of us have spent years focusing on one or two pet channels, forgetting to keep up with what else is out there. Yes, it feels good to know something like the back of your hand, but someday, yesterday’s channels will be yesterday’s news and no longer able to drive the results you want. It’s important to continuously research, learn, and test out new opportunities.
Our job as marketers isn’t to be comfortable, it’s to be perpetual learners. Get outside your comfort zone—try new channels!
4. Giving up on a channel after a single failure
How many times have you heard a marketer say something “doesn’t work”, even though they only tried it once? Could you ride your bike perfectly on the first try? Didn’t think so. That’s just not how the world works.
I like to say most things, including marketing campaigns, follow the 80/20 rule: out of 10 campaigns, 80% of your results will come from the two top performers. In essence, not every campaign will be a winner and that’s okay. Scale the two campaigns that boomed, and toss out or fix the eight that didn’t.
5. Misalignment of creative and strategy
The kinds of people who work in creative vs. strategy are often quite different. Creatives tend to be more right-brained or artistic, while strategy folks are typically more analytical and scientific in their approach. Both approaches are important in marketing, though in the order of operations, strategy comes first.
For example, say your current strategy is to drive significant market share in a competitive market. To do this, you’ll need to entice as many customers as possible to try your services, but maintain a low cost per action (CPA). That means the ads creative comes up with should encourage your desired action—purchases, sign-ups, clicks—but also be specific to the way each separate marketing channel is used and to who uses it.
A mismatch between creative and strategy creates friction between the teams and leaves customers confused and unable to put their finger on your brand’s value proposition—think of all those TV commercials you remember because they’re funny, but have no recollection of what they’re advertising. When customers are confused or ill-informed about your brand, your chances of word of mouth advertising are completely out the window. Remember, creative and strategy aren’t enemies, they’re allies.