4 Signs that your marketing program sucks

…and the likely root causes that you will need to address.

How ever effortless large agencies, successful brands and world leading enterprises may make it appear, devising marketing programs that work consistently, is tough and involves a lot of hard work – sorry.

Of course just getting any old marketing campaign out the door is relatively easy, quick and can be pretty-much free. No one wants what a campaign like that delivers though, because on the whole it’s not very much all. It doesn’t stop people doing it though. Some cool design, a catchy tag line, an enormous email database and a flash new tool to pump it out and off you go.

It feels great to press the “go button” on a campaign that makes you look cooler, smarter and slicker than you probably really are AND to know it’s doing its bit to invade the Inbox of thousands of unsuspecting recipients too.

But chances are you’ll be waiting a very long time indeed if you expect the phone to ring off the hook, your website to crash with orders and inquiries and the sales director to be dancing round the office proclaiming that yet again, “Marketing has saved the day!”.

So let’s assume you are one of the good guys, one of those who really want to do the right thing and that despite your very best efforts, things are not quite going to plan.

What are the most common signs or symptoms that something’s not right and what are the likely underlying root causes?

Any of these familiar?

Symptom Likely Root Cause (high level).
You’re seeing increased competition You haven’t defined the market segment (the types of organisations) in which you can differentiate and dominate – profitably – well enough.
Sales Cycle is longer and drops out too often You are in too late to the sales process/engaged too low down the food chain/you are being used as a price benchmark.
You are being squeezed on price/sales people are discounting The prospect doesn’t recognize the value in what you’re offering – you’ve not made the business case compelling enough.
Order value to low/no portfolio selling Sales people don’t have what they need from you to be able to access and sell further up the chain. They will sell what is easy and doesn’t challenge their credibility. If they can’t explain the value under pressure…that could be your problem not there’s.

These four are really common (and of course it’s a good deal more complex than this but…). It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the fault lies with sales but in reality…nine times out of ten…the problem starts a good deal further back in the marketing and program planning.

Get under the bonnet of these and you will be able to engineer much more effective programs first time. And if and when you see any of these symptoms you know where to start looking for the root cause…you will (I guarantee you) be a good deal further forward than your competition.