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Marketing campaign postmortem: What went wrong?

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Are you frustrated by the results of your marketing? Sometimes the reasons behind a failed marketing effort can be elusive. But in my experience, most marketing stumbles (and we all have them) fit into one of the following categories:

1.    The college try. With this syndrome, we try to make a marketing activity work but secretly hope it doesn’t so that we won’t have to do it again. A good example is social media. Ask yourself, did I give this campaign enough time to truly develop before I decided to give up? Did I try it just to say that I had, without being truly passionate about making it succeed?

2.    The time-short investment. In this category, we don’t invest as much time as we do money. An example might be a seminar for which you spend a significant amount of money but not enough time practicing your presentation and planning your follow-up strategy. Ask yourself if you invested enough time in your campaign to make it work.

3.    The stroke-of-a-pen approach. The hope here is that if we write a big enough check, new business will flood in. The reality is that without sufficient focus, heavy application of financial resources often brings disappointing results. Ask yourself if you merely threw money at something without thorough investigation.

4.    The repellant message. This one is the most prevalent of all because we often don’t know we’re doing it. You may be implementing your marketing techniques correctly, but if what you say is not compelling, it can have the opposite effect. Examples include seminar presentations, prospect meetings, website messaging, email marketing, etc. We may think our messages are spot on, but without real feedback, we can’t know for sure.

5.    The assumption of success. We assume that just because a marketing strategy works for someone else, it will also work for us. Although following in another’s successful footsteps can increase our odds of success, we need to make sure that all the parameters are equal. It seems obvious, but what works in Wisconsin may not work in California. Ask yourself if your strategy is the right fit for my target market?

If your marketing results are disappointing, figure out what went wrong so you can avoid it next time.

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Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to


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