7 deadly sins of marketing
The biggest mistakes marketers make today
"Mistakes you can learn from; sins stay with you forever." — Corey Taylor
We learn something new every day. That's the idea anyway. We exact plans and strategies. Some work and some don't. Then, we sit down and sift through the pros and cons of every single move. We are pawns in the big game — whatever that big game may be. Win, and the world is a better place. Lose, and, well, you know the story. The trick, as we know, is never making the same mistake twice. Success can be gleaned from the ashes of failure — period.
When it comes to marketing, there is no shortage of challenges. Just look at how the marketing world has evolved during the last decade, and the amount of cross-training marketers have experienced: VoC, data collection and analysis, and product and message development.
Today, marketers continue to face a barrage of new technologies aimed at making things easier, faster, more cost effective and more transparent — all in real-time. The key is navigating this complex and constantly changing landscape, and then creating a unified marketing strategy — one that's focused on driving customer engagement and can impact the bottom line.
If you're looking for a consensus of where the true art of marketing lies, it would go something like this: Build brand and marketing campaigns, develop sound messaging strategies and create products that deliver a good customer experience. The key is listening to your customers and the world around you to craft meaningful conversations that spark imagination, inspire loyalty and create interest in your solutions.
"Marketers are a naturally inquisitive, inventive group who are excited about possibilities," says Tracy Hansen, CMO of Tealium, a leader in enterprise tag management and digital data distribution platforms. "The key is to channel this passion for the creative and the new into a learning opportunity to understand what is possible, and then employ the power of pause. By taking the time to craft an integrated, unified strategy that employs technology to drive business value, marketers will find that their investments are leveraged fully and that they have the appropriately trained staff to take advantage of their visions."
Sounds easy, right? In this technologically driven world, we decided to look at the seven deadliest sins marketers are making today. Here's what we uncovered:
No. 1 — The Safe Route
Marketers often are stuck in "safe mode" and are not willing to take risks that stray from the "status quo." They often are too comfortable with their own processes, creative, communications, target audience, etc., which reduces their ability to drive new conversations about the future.
"A marketer should never be comfortable," says Chris Cottle, executive VP of marketing for the customer experience (CX) software and research firm MaritzCX. "They need to be responsible for leading the conversation about the next phase for the company, and lead the charge in developing new tools, new communication vehicles and new ways to get the message out creatively."
No. 2 — Misuse of Technology
According to a review of customer data-centric software listed on Capterra, more than 3,000 marketing technology products, platforms and point solutions are being deployed across nearly 30 application categories. Combine the proliferation of solutions, plus a constantly contracting and collapsing market, with the fact that most marketers were not educated as technologists, and you have a recipe for confusion and frustration.
"By neglecting to take the time to understand how marketing technologies can work together and how data can be unified, marketers are falling into the same trap that so many technology buyers find themselves in," says Tealium's Hansen. "They have a host of siloed applications and fragmented data sources that are being under-utilized, because the processes, training and skills are not in place to take advantage of the technology's original promise."
No. 3 — Inefficient Data
The ability to use technology and data (or science) to further marketing's reach, to create more personalized campaigns and to be more relevant is paramount. Both sides must be weighted properly and used appropriately to maximize impact. One without the other is pointless. If content is king and context is queen, data is the emperor. Today, the first-party visitor data gets recognized as the most valuable kind, because it allows marketers to take true, real-time action to increase results across channels and devices.
"Increased access to data is a tremendous gift modern marketers have at their disposal," says Matt Voda, CMO of OptiMine, a leader in cloud-based omni-channel marketing analytics and optimization. "A mistake, however, is to use data to the exclusion of their own knowledge and experience. For example, some marketers invest based on which channels traditionally have been easiest to measure, and therefore direct more spend to lower-funnel digital channels (search, etc.). They scale back or exclude brand awareness investments that, when measured properly, can contribute even more lift to the lower funnel."
No. 4 — Undersharing
The prevalence and sheer volume of Big Data allow most companies to see the very essence of their customer bases and their activity. But unless more people in the organization have access to customer feedback and analysis, the data simply is rendered useless. You must have a process in place to analyze and act upon it.
"Our independent research has found that most companies are more effective at capturing and sharing customer feedback than they are at analyzing, integrating, and acting on it," MatritzCX's Cottle says. "Many companies put their departments in silos (product development, sales, call center, IT, marketing, etc.) that fail to communicate with each other. Strategy means nothing unless it can be consistently implemented across the enterprise."
No. 5 — Stuck in the Short Term
Marketers are under increased pressure to deliver results and prove their value. Therefore, it's natural to gravitate toward direct-oriented, late-funnel channels that are most tangibly measured versus early-funnel/brand channels and/or emerging channels whose impact on business results historically have been more challenging to quantify.
"Marketers often become hyper-focused on short-term results, leading to a lack of new innovation, new channels and consumer dialogue," OptiMine's Voda says. "For example, focusing on the most measureable "last click" will drive more budget to channels like search, only to lead to a major dead end in terms of future growth and market development."
No. 6 — The Original Plan
Too many marketers hold on to the concept of the annual marketing plan, which is quickly becoming a relic in a "real-time" world where the landscape changes overnight. While it's important to outline goals, objectives and strategies for the upcoming year, marketers are wrong if they don't allow — or even plan — for change. They must have a test-driven mindset and set aside a portion of their budgets to test new approaches and tweak strategies regularly as the year progresses.
"Getting locked in and pursuing the same strategy, despite evidence to the contrary, is wrong," says Rob Gelphman, VP of marketing and member relations for the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA). "It can be difficult to justify change and take on risk when everything is seemingly going well, but marketers have to continuously scan the horizon for storm clouds. Though a sunny day, rain may be in the forecast."
No. 7 — Broad Targets
Many companies fail to define the target customer(s) narrowly enough. Too often, the target is defined much too broadly. Serious problems with marketing effectiveness begin with a broad target, because it becomes increasingly difficult to define the needs of the target customer. This impacts the type of content developed to reach this target. Messages become less refined and, thus, less effective.
"This stems from an overly broad target," says Ron Hess, professor of marketing at William & Mary. "A broad target creates difficulties in specifically defining the needs of these customers. The best positioning statements clearly identify three to four reasons that a company's offerings are different from the competition. These reasons must be relevant/important to the target customer."