3 reasons why you didn’t achieve your marketing goals in 2014

29th, Dec 2014

marketing missing targetAs 2014 comes to a close, it’s time to look back at what you wanted to accomplish this year with your marketing and how well you succeeded. Disappointed in the results? Well, here are 3 common reasons why.

1. How well did you target your audience?

Most businesses have multiple potential audiences for their marketing. The problem is understanding and prioritizing the markets you want to go after and making sure your marketing is tailored for and promoted to that group.

How well did you select your target audience? Did you analyze what market segments were the strongest candidates for your business? Which ones seemed likely to grow or contract? Where you had the strongest relationships and expertise?

Maybe you knew clearly who you wanted to pursue, but how much did you know about them? It’s important to research and gather information about your audience’s needs, interests, challenges, etc. Explore the best ways to reach them. Be as specific as possible. For example, if typically you have to go through several gatekeepers before being hired by a company, identify the decision makers within these companies at each stage in the process. Then understand the pain points they are experiencing. How can you help them with their problems and build trust?

The better you understand your market, the better you can adapt your marketing materials and distribution so you can deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time.

2. Did you set specific goals?

Sure everyone’s ultimate goal is to grow their business, but how did you break that down? Were you specific about how much new business you wanted to bring in? How about client retention? What about profit margins and return on your marketing investment? Did you plan for which business areas had the most potential for growth? Which ones were stagnant or declining?

Along the way to growing your business, there are also other goals you might have set. Some examples include building brand awareness and trust, generating more or better quality leads, showcasing your thought leadership, educating clients and prospects, driving traffic to your website, engaging audiences through social media and many others.

Each of these goals has corresponding metrics to help measure your progress. Some of them are fairly straightforward, but others need to be well-thought out. Do you want to increase your website page views by 10% or do you want visitors to spend more time on your website and view more pages? How do you define whether you’re getting better quality leads from your marketing? Your metrics aren’t about whether you succeeded or failed. They are about helping you continually test, compare, revise and hone your tactics so you can improve results.

My point is that you should have had very particular (and prioritized) objectives in mind that you wanted your marketing to help you obtain. This helps you to understand where to focus your marketing efforts and create benchmarks to monitor how you’re doing. Without that, your marketing was probably less effective and directed than it could have been otherwise.

3. Did you have a strategic marketing plan?

In a strategic marketing plan you set out your goals and target audience as well as look at your business and financial situation. Then you identify and outline appropriate strategies and tactics. A marketing plan lets you think about your priorities and where and how you should focus your resources for the most impact.

Without a plan, you run the risk of spending time and money on an assortment of different tactics without a clearly defined purpose. Maybe some of those efforts will work. But what about the things that don’t work, or more likely, you’re not really sure what worked or what could have worked better. When you act without a marketing plan, you’re more likely to make ad hoc decisions. For example, let’s say you want to start a blog because everyone is doing it. If you start by thinking of your audience, goals and business situation, you can now more easily strategize what topics you want to cover, how you should promote and distribute it, and other ways to leverage the content. Or you may decide to go in another direction completely that fits your plan better. The plan helps you look at all the pieces in a logical way to maximize your investment.

What should you change in 2015?

Before you dive into the New Year, take some time to think about where to focus your efforts. Creating a marketing plan doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking especially if your business is small to mid-size. Start simple. Decide on a limited number of priorities with a well-defined market segment and develop your strategies around that. Determine a few tactics you want to test and establish metrics to gauge your results.

If you already have several marketing efforts in progress, think about how they fit together into an overall marketing plan. For example, let’s say you already have a monthly newsletter. What are your goals for it? Who is the audience? How does it fit into your overall strategic plan? What can you do to get better results? By thinking about it in this way you may see ways to tailor and exploit the newsletter in new ways.

Start 2015 right. Plan upfront for marketing success.

Good luck and Happy New Year!

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