Your marketing plan is going to fail and it’s ok

My nine year old daughter lost her bid for Vice President of the Student Council by 20 votes. Obviously, I’m going to demand a recount. There had to be some hanging chads. We’re still determining whether or not a Congressional Inquiry is needed. Ok, ok, ok … she lost fair and square. Thankfully, according to her teacher, she took the defeat much more gracefully than I did. There’s a lesson to be learned here. I just haven’t figured out what it is.

Why would anyone ever not vote for this tiny gorgeous, genius-lady?

Why would anyone ever not vote for this tiny gorgeous, genius-lady?

In actuality, it reminded me that we often have failures in life despite our best attempts. My wife and I were very proud of Elena Kay because we know she did her best. The children of Holland Elementary were just not ready for her revolutionary style of governing. Marketing fails all the time. If marketing were a sports franchise it would be any team from Cleveland. (Sorry Cleveland. You still rock in my book.) This is a good thing. If marketing had a 100% success rate no one would have any money. The lack of winning should not and does not stop marketers. It also does not stop Cleveland from trying. Good job on winning the number one NBA draft pick for the third time in four years, Cavaliers!

Terrible Marketing Statistics

To back up my point about the utter failure of marketing tactics, here is some scientific proof.

  • Online ad clickthrough rates – 0.10% ( that’s a tenth of a percent not 10%)
  • Direct mail response rate – 4.4% (400 times better that online ads)
  • Website visitor intent conversion rate – 11.94% (Winner!)

These success rates are almost as bad as the weatherman’s. Really, how bad are marketers at their jobs! What if the mail man delivered your mail to the wrong house 99.9% of the time? Of course, I’m being facetious. The comparisons I’ve made are not equal. If you get 10% of your targeted market to respond, you are doing great. All of the examples given are great ways to market your business if done correctly. Success with marketing can be measured in many different ways. As a business, it should ultimately effect the bottom line in positive fashion.

How To Know If You’re Marketing Really Is Failing

Really you want to know what is working. Sure there are industry averages to shoot for but each business must determine what works best for their needs. Here are three simple things to minimize failure and be a great success with your marketing efforts. Acquiring Target. No ladies, you are not going to buy your own Target to simplify your shopping needs. It’s about knowing what you are shooting for. If there is no target, how will the archer know he missed? Clearly define your objectives in marketing. There are several goals you could be trying to accomplish. Maybe one of these objectives:

  • Acquire leads
  • Sell widgets
  • Increase followers
  • Establish your brand

How Much Is It? You need to know the cost. Arrows aren’t free, you know. What are you spending on marketing efforts and how is that correlating to your revenue? Break out the Excel spreadsheet and determine what is going out and what is coming in.

Track it. In other words if the archer turned around after taking the shot he would never know if he hit the bulls eye. You are probably throwing lots of cash away if you do not have a system that allows you to know if your online advertising actually produced a sale. We’re talking about return on investment (ROI). Marketing efforts like social media ROI can be measured, as well. It may not be as easily quantifiable as a “$100 print ad brought in $200 of business” but the same principles apply. For more information on that subject check out How to Measure Social Media ROI.

The other day I came up with this great quote: Every failure is a stepping stone for success. Ok, maybe someone else said that first, but it absolutely rings true. That means you get 99 tries to eventually create a great online advertisement! I’m sure several years from now our family will look back and see our daughter’s first step and laugh heartily while eating filet mignon and enjoying the sunset from the veranda of her Vice President of the Galaxy mansion. And it will be worth it. Fail on.


About the Author


Mark is a marketer and sometimes writer. He's trying to get better at that sometimes thing.

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