Many organizations are scratching their heads these days and wondering why their marketing efforts aren’t paying off as projected. It isn’t that marketers have been sitting still, either. They’ve added all manner of social media to the mix, lowered their expectations for sales in light of the new era of “cautious spending” by both consumers and businesses, and looked for innovative approaches, such as live marketing and pay-for-performance, at every turn.

Yet, the real marketing problems most organizations are facing are not new developments. They have actually been there all along. The difference is that in a boom economy the dysfunction inherent in most companies marketing approach was simply hidden. Today, however, it cannot be ignored.

The problems fall into two major categories:

  1. Bad assumptions.
  2. Lots of tactics, and not enough strategy.

Bad assumptions often started as good assumptions, but target customers, their needs and habits, as well as their spending patterns, change. Therefore it is of greater importance than it has been in decades for marketers to keep asking questions, doing research and polling their customers.  The main push-backs for such fact-finding efforts are:

  1. No money set aside. (Really? So what are bad assumptions currently costing the organization?)
  2. No time to do the research before the next marketing initiative launches. (Again, so sending a marketing piece out that is based on faulty assumptions is a bit backwards, now isn’t it?)
  3. No need because the organization is already polling its customers about how it is performing. (Now this is an interesting argument, because many organizations are stagnant, and are focused keenly on their existing customers in regards to service and experience, but are not asking any questions that would help to understand the relevancy of their product and how to approach new customers and markets.)
  4. We’ve never needed to before. (We think this is such a ridiculous response, we will just reference the first sentence of this blog.)

Then there’s tactics. Tactics are sexier today than ever before. Podcasts, Webcasts, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google and SEO are the buzzwords on everybody’s lips.  However, what seems to escape a number of organizations is that just because “everybody’s” doing it, doesn’t mean their time and money is well spent in those tactics. Jumping on a tactical bandwagon before establishing a clear strategy for marketing is like firing the gun and then attempting to aim.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine whether your organization is too tactically-focused. The less answers you know (and we mean really KNOW, not assume you know), the more your organization needs to re-address its marketing strategy.

  1. Who is your target, and has that changed recently?
  2. What needs does your target market have, and how do you fulfill those?
  3. What do you uniquely offer in comparison to your competitors?
  4. What are your competitors best at?
  5. How are your competitors doing in the market?
  6. How are your competitors marketing?
  7. How is the competitive marketing working?
  8. How does your target get information about you and your competitors?
  9. What compels a target to buy your product?
  10. What stops a target from buying your product?

It’s basic advice from a marketing agency. Nothing edgy here. However, the point is, too many marketers have overlooked the basics for too long, and now they are paying the price.  Jumpstarting struggling marketing efforts is really as simple as taking the time to do it right – from the start.