3 Common Reasons a Marketing Strategy Fails to Achieve Objectives

Where did our marketing strategy go wrong? It’s an unpleasant question many marketers have to ask themselves at some point in their careers when a plan doesn’t hit objectives.

The answer we usually hear is, “The product just wasn’t very good.” More recently, “it was bad timing with the economy.” Another popular response, “the competition stepped-up their game and the market climate took a turn for the worse.”

Based on post-mortem evaluations of 20+ years of B2B and B2C marketing strategies, we have some different answers for why marketing strategies don’t meet objectives. Here are three common, but overlooked issues that derailed performance:

  1. Muddled targeting. The targeting decision—on whom to focus marketing efforts—may sound like the most basic of all the decisions a marketer has to make, but it has a profound impact on the ultimate performance of a marketing strategy. Disappointing strategies often have a benign target, such as everyone in the category or women ages 25-45.

  2. Poor planning. Sales problems are often NOT the fault of the product or service. The company just didn’t create awareness/familiarity with enough buyers in the category or industry. It’s kind of astounding to us that, while more and more marketers regularly use technology to test different and numerous configurations of new products and services, very few test an array of marketing plans to ensure they have the combination of strategy, tactics, and budget allocation that can effectively and efficiently hit objectives.

  3. Passable creative. In many cases, the creative executions of the strategy—the ad campaign most specifically—do not consistently or clearly reinforce a brand’s positioning. Improving creative through rigorous development and testing offers a much better ROI than increasing media spending.

We think there’s some good evidence to suggest that marketers need to check their intuition that the product wasn’t right and their hunch that the competition or the market climate is what came between them and achieving marketing objectives.

A great place to start is developing a model–doesn’t have to be sophisticated, it can be back-of-the-envelope of how sales actually occur in your category or industry. The idea is to really consider how well you did at each step of the process and figure out where the potential problem areas really are.

To learn more about developing a model, watch Peter Krieg’s recent webcast, “Setting Clear and Effective Marketing Objectives,” available now on-demand at on our webcast channel.

Marketing Frayers

marketing strategy