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Why a Marketing Campaign Plan Fails – And How to Make Yours Succeed

Inbound Marketing
February 7, 2018

It would be just fine and dandy if marketing were a fully-predictable animal. You plug in some good material and messaging, and you get new sales, more knocks on your door, and some modest version of fame and fortune as the output.


Alas, that’s not always the case. Marketing campaigns, even those boosted by gargantuan budgets, can fail miserably. But knowing some of the common things that sabotage campaigns can help you head off a disaster.

Here, we’ll explore a few “epic fails” that make campaigns go wrong, and what to do instead to make yours go right.

Epic Fail #1. The Promotional Budget Falls Short

You might put a ton of thought into a new content marketing or ad campaign. Maybe, you even spend countless hours and days on tone of voice, types of media, the offer you’re going to make, and the steps that will move respondents through the buyer journey.

But without enough money put towards promotion, it can all fall flat. The lack of an adequate promotion engine — and in digital marketing, you have options ranging from highly-targeted social media ads to PPC, and from banner ads to influencer outreach — means a campaign will falter on reaching its intended audience, and your overall ROI will fall short.

How to Succeed Instead

You should invest 50% (or even better, 100%) of the creative budget on actually promoting the campaign, to make sure enough of the right people see your marketing messages.

Epic Fail #2. There’s a Lack of Buy-In and Insights From Senior Leaders


There’s a sense that executives and business leaders are often out of touch, and don’t really have insights that can lead to better marketing outcomes. But...they’re leaders for a reason. It’s often because they built the business, or their role within it, through trial-and-error and by leveraging “insider” info.

That said, the ideas of experienced senior stakeholders can play a pivotal role in a campaign’s success.

How to Succeed Instead

Marketers should seek buy-in from the top, and invite those leaders to share what they know about target audience psychographics, special product benefits, and new industry directions. Sometimes, those tidbits can turn an “OK” campaign into a smashing success.

Epic Fail #3. The Campaign Isn’t Tied to Specific Goals


Just as you wouldn’t embark on a new journey without a map (or these days, without your trusty GPS), you don’t want to create a campaign without an end goal. If you don’t tie campaigns to the hard numbers you want to see, you won’t understand which repeatable lead- and sales-generating processes you’ll need for growth.

Start by detailing exactly where you need your business to be — how many leads and sales each quarter, or your desired website traffic and conversion numbers, for example — in order to meet revenue goals. Then you can construct campaigns that are likely to make those objectives come true.

Epic Fail #4. The Campaign Misses the Mark on Speaking to the Audience


One of the worst things a campaign can do is fail at its primary purpose — communicating with the audience. Just take some of the marketing mega-fails of 2017 — the Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial and Dove UK’s “Real Beauty Bottles” ad — as examples.

Conclusion: getting the message right is a must with marketing campaigns.

How to Succeed Instead

Consider your approach from every angle, including the tone you’ll use in the creative, the amount of “originality” you need to make an impact, and the deepest desires of the target demographic. Make sure you spend all the time needed to understand the audience and what motivates them towards positive action. (It’s another area where insights from company leaders can be an invaluable asset.)

Epic Fail #5. The Message is Matched to the Wrong Medium


You’re on social media when your target audience still reads print magazines and newspapers. Or, to get more realistic: you’re on LinkedIn when your most likely customers hang out on Instagram. Either way, your medium is getting in the way of your message.

While your brand should have a presence on multiple platforms, the amount of time, money, and effort you invest in each one shouldn’t necessarily be the same.

How to Succeed Instead

Look at your demographics, psychographics, and buyer personas to understand the media of choice for your audience, and double down on what works best. To ensure you stay within the winning channels, keep testing.

For every marketing effort that fails, there’s a pitfall (or two) that could’ve been addressed from the get-go, and a course change that would have made the campaign successful. To turn your next campaign into gold, be aware of the potential cracks in the ground and follow the above best practices.

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February 7, 2018 Alex is an outgoing creative from St. Louis, MO who is passionate about business development and creative strategy. As a Marketing Manager, Alex supports the Adhere Team with marketing strategy, content development, and lame dad-jokes. He thrives in a fast-paced environment and enjoys multi-tasking. You can find Alex on PS4, in the gym, or jamming some guitar. See All articles
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