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When Marketing Projects Go Terribly Wrong – Part II

Last week we discussed how to avoid launching a marketing project that is destined to fail. Although we never have a perfect view into the future, some key steps to assuring success are:
• Plan Effectively – use a planning tool to careful estimate costs and benefits
• Assess your Return on Marketing Investment – Look at hard and soft costs
• Understand the long-term implications on your market
Even the best laid plans can go wrong.

Campaign Failure

Campaigns falter for many reasons. Some can be recovered and repaired. Others should be “taken behind the barn and shot,” to quote Mr. Wonderful from Shark Tank.

However, the important thing is to understand why the results aren’t in line with your expectations, so you avoid them in the future, or you correct what isn’t working and move forward.

Often there are a few typical reasons that cause a promotion to fail:

Good Intentions. Bad idea
This is one of those promotions that might have come from the boss himself and nobody told him otherwise. In a healthy environment, an idea like this wouldn’t stand up to a fair internal discussion. I remember a client that had a friend with an ice cream store and thought they would offer a free ice cream cone with a new checking account. Most people wouldn’t go through the trouble of opening a new account for a $3.00 incentive. Would you? Enough said.

This is usually the result of poor marketing research. Make sure the idea is relevant to the target market and has appropriate value for the product in question.

The Bud Light Campaign likely falls into this category.

Bad Timing
The promotion might not run long enough. It might not be at the right time of year. Or it might conflict with another event that draws attention away from the program. This can often be just coincidence. Still, it’s always important to evaluate all the other competing activities in conjunction with your planned schedule.

Competitive Response
The competition changed their price. This one you can’t always see coming but you can do your best to be prepared. Nobody wins in a downward price war. You’ve seen the cartoons with a sign of two competing retailers with lower and lower prices crossed out. Sure, you want to beat the competition, but you also want to do it profitably!

Price is often the easiest and most used form of competitive response. Frankly, it’s the most expensive. It doesn’t take much creativity to respond with price matching. Always explore alternatives to price where possible such as terms, additional benefits, bundled items, service, locations, availability, etc. It helps to differentiate on things other than price if you can.

Not Enough Resources Allocated
Great marketing ideas need fuel to launch and perform properly. If you are not receiving the support you need for advertising or staff, chances are good that your project will not reach its highest potential.

The marketing landscape is littered with great ideas that never reached their full potential. Make sure that you adequately plan for the support you need to ensure success.

Poor Communication
This is an easy one that tends to be overlooked in organizations. Marketing comes up with a great idea but never tells anyone on the front line. A consumer responds to the campaign and the first person they speak with from the company has no idea of what they are talking about!

This is generally the fault of an internal culture that has “silo” thinking. Information is kept inside and not shared out beyond the walls of the department. This is easily fixed with some form of bulletin system that updates everyone on the current promotional campaigns and where to go for additional information.

Looking Back to Look Ahead
Learning from these mistakes is part of the journey. It’s important to reflect on campaigns after completion to see where things might have been better. Post campaign assessments help you to objectively review the results to find out where changes can be made for next time.