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When Marketing Projects Go Terribly Wrong

A lot has been in the news as of late covering what has become a terribly historic marketing fail for Budweiser and their Bud Light product. This promotion will likely go down in the history books alongside New Coke, Lawn Darts, McDonald’s Monopoly Promotion and other major marketing miscues.

My focus is not to unpack this specific campaign but rather talk more generally about avoiding mistakes.

Nobody Intends to Fail

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

You can never take the risk out of every decision. But hopefully you can weigh the cost/benefit of these decisions before you decide. Clearly, if the benefits don’t exceed the cost, the decision is easy.

Return on Marketing Investment

Years ago when I joined a large S&L as part of a marketing team, our boss introduced a planning tool that was mandatory for every single promotional campaign we ran. We called it the ROMI — Return On Marketing Investment.

In the ROMI we had to provide a three-page summary of the campaign. Why we were running it, expected results, revenue, costs, and a detailed return on investment calculation. We had to make sure we made at least $1.50 for every dollar we spent.

Every projected product sale had an associated profit margin attached to it. That way, we had some accountability established. We were spending real dollars to generate deposit or loan dollars (not a one-for-one relationship).

At the end of the promotion we would roll up all the numbers and determine how well we did.

You can actually download a copy of this form at our website. It’s now a part of our marketing planner: Marketing-Calendar.pdf

Does a Free Digital Post/Media Translate to a Great ROI?

The ROMI form is easy enough to use when you are rolling up costs from a variety of media. But what about the “free” media implications?

With the number of social media/digital posts ranging from 1 -2 per day to 1 – 2 per week, the opportunity for a miscue is higher than ever before. The more you post, the higher the likelihood of a miscue.

A vetting process is necessary now more than ever. Key questions to consider before distributing your post:

• What is the upside of this activity?

• What is the downside of this activity?

• Are we willing to take the risks for the reward?

• Does this post support my brand?

• Will this benefit the organization/product if the post showed up in the national media (TV/Newspaper)?

• Do I want to share this and why?

What do I expect my audience to do with this post/information?

Nobody on the Bud Light team saw this coming, that’s for sure. And certainly there is a high likelihood that many in senior management approved the campaign.

Nevertheless, in today’s world, a single action can spin a company out of control. The lesson here is to make certain that you look at your digital messaging from all angles and give yourself time to vet and reflect before hitting the “send” button.

Your action may not even be responsible for the pushback. It might come from a secondary or tertiary source.

And finally, most importantly realize that “cost” doesn’t mean the time you spend creating a post, but rather, means the true costs to the business coming from the negative implications from a poorly thought out campaign.