Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with organizations across nearly every industry from global enterprise to SMB. When it comes to marketing initiatives – implementation of marketing automation, a new requirement for showing marketing ROI, ABM strategy adoption – you name it, a new initiative means change is coming and change is never easy, regardless of organization size.

The part that I find interesting is that no matter what the initiative is, the challenges are almost always the same, and the formula for success is consistent. With that in mind, I’ve written a white paper on the four reasons marketing initiatives fail, and the 7 hallmarks of success. But before we get into that, let’s take a high-level pass at those 4 things that just stand out every time and that get in the way of success. In no particular order, marketing initiatives fail due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • Failure to create a contemporary digital strategy – while this seems intuitive, many organizations fail to adapt their marketing plan and budget to account for digital consumerism. I’m not just talking about eCommerce – that only applies to a subset of my clients. I’m talking about accessibility of information that help buyers or groups of buyers make decisions about a product or solution. The reality is, we are all online – for both personal and business reasons – searching for solutions to our problems or challenges, or just things that we want to have. It is infinitely easier to close a deal with a consumer who is online looking for your solution than it is to convince a buyer that they need your solution. Incorporating inbound strategies into your marketing plan is a must. Allocating or re-allocating appropriate budget to achieve growth goals is a must.
  • Failure to focus on the customer first – ok. I’ll admit it. This one drives me insane. So many of my clients default to talking about product and solutions and not addressing the customers challenges in their communications. In today’s digital world, it is you the business talking to ONE person. One digital consumer taking actions that we can often capture and catalogue to determine where someone is in their buying journey. Technologies available to us (like Marketing automation or social channels) enable us to capture that information and use it to communicate more effectively, and meet the buyer where they are with content they want to consume, rather than the content we as the business managers want to put in front of our potential buyers.
  • Failure to fully optimize the technologies that you have – This is the one that drives my peers crazy. It’s the clients who spend a ton of money on one, two, or five or more technologies, but, so often these technologies are not talking to each other, not optimized, and/or not being used to their full potential. I see this most often in program and campaign design that do not fully leverage the technologies that exist. For example, utilizing data from a social listening tool to help you better understand what prospects and customers are saying, but not actually incorporating the learnings into the messages you send out. Or not utilizing progressive profiling to learn a little bit more every time a customer or prospects returns to gain access to content you are offering. These are two very simple, basic examples – but ones that we see all the time!
  • Failure to adapt or re-engineer processes to support a new environment – Ok, I’ll admit it. I think this one gets ignored because it is hard. Let’s take the example of implementing marketing automation. When done correctly from the start, we integrate this tool with your CRM so that the systems are speaking to one another. But, if we fail to draft, get buy-in, implement and hold people accountable for a new lead management process, nothing will happen. We will start doing all sorts of inbound and outbound campaigns to drive customer or prospect engagement, but those leads will fall into a deep, dark abyss, never to return again. Lead Management is an absolute MUST when it comes to process engineering during MAP implementation, yet so many companies fail to address it. As a consultant, it is difficult to impress upon my clients how significant the impact will be if we fail to design and adhere to lead management processes. It literally cuts the legs out from under us right from the start.

So, these are the four obvious obstacles to a successful launch of a new initiative. In the paper I mentioned earlier, I walk through these failures in more detail and the seven success characteristics to help overcome these challenges and ensure that when you take on a new initiative in marketing – big and small – that you are fully prepared and ready to go!