Marketing is Not a Faucet

As we enter a new year, executives everywhere are hoping their marketing investments will pay off big this year. The strategy is done, plans are made and vendors are lined up to help with execution. So what could possibly go wrong?marketing faucet

While the list of potential hiccups is long, the single largest contributor to marketing failures is not unresponsive customers or aggressive competitors. What most frequently undermines successful marketing is one simple factor: commitment.

When executive commitment to marketing initiatives lags, trouble looms. Of course, you might be thinking that waning commitment to marketing programs happens when results are slow to appear. That may be the case, yet many executives are so focused on monthly metrics and quarterly results that they fail to give marketing efforts adequate time to bear fruit.

So is the problem that your marketing doesn’t work, or does your marketing fail to work because you’re too impatient? If you’ve suffered a frustrating string of “failures” it would pay to spend some time looking at the patterns that lead to them.

Like a cake plucked from the oven too soon, marketing results that are rushed can seem half-baked. The cake won’t be edible and you’ll be equally disappointed in what you perceive is wasted marketing expense. Suppress that discouragement for a moment and ask if your expectations are realistic.

There’s nothing wrong with pulling the plug when you have solid evidence that things aren’t working out. In fact, I encourage cutting your losses rather than throwing good money away.  If you’ve discovered that some of your assumptions were off or that decisions like pricing or positioning missed the mark, regroup quickly and move on.

However, if you are just itching to see a bigger impact or are eager to accelerate results, the problem could be you. The passion, drive and focus that makes a successful executive can translate into an impatience that doesn’t mesh well with some marketing strategies.

Here are a few examples…

  • Building brand awareness and customer preference can take time as customers learn about your business, try your offerings and learn to trust your promises.
  • Referral programs are long-term affairs. They require satisfied customers who are willing to spread the word, leading to a ripple effect of expanding recommendations to new prospects and customers.
  • Lead generation campaigns yield better results when paired with lead nurturing programs to ensure opportunities aren’t overlooked – and sometime leads need to be nurtured for months before converting.
  • Integrated marketing marries branding, social media and traditional marketing to exponential impact….over time.

You see, you can’t simply turn marketing on and off like a faucet. Doing so interrupts the momentum that your business builds with a consistent commitment to marketing. Stopping and starting on a whim (or to meet short-term financial metrics) can have a negative impact on results, dragging down the long-term ROI of your marketing investments.

If you really want to see better marketing results this year, commit yourself to following through on planned marketing efforts, even those that don’t show immediate returns. Tweak programs as needed, but don’t turn your budget on and off to meet capricious benchmarks.

Think of marketing as a “buy and hold” type of investment. Rebalance the portfolio occasionally, but don’t tinker incessantly. Have faith in your strategy and be dogged in your execution. Your business will benefit from the compound interest and you’ll reap big dividends in the end.

Photo by Christophe Libert via

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