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7 things to do when your marketing campaign flops

It can happen to even the most experienced marketing professionals.  Your carefully-planned campaign didn’t perform as you had hoped – or worse, it was a total flop.  All the time and effort you put into your initiative seems to have been in vain.  Was the timing off?  Was the message incorrect?

While you’re probably extremely frustrated by the lack of response, keep in mind the many notable marketing flops over the years – Heinz purple ketchup, New Coke and countless other campaigns.

Creating and executing a successful marketing campaign is not easy.  It takes time and planning.  And the execution of your plan can have a big impact on the results as well.

If you recently completed a campaign and were disappointed with the results, here are some follow-up steps you can take to ensure success with future campaigns.

#1 – Review the Data

The first thing you want to do is review your data and confirm your campaign was a flop.

Yes, this seems obvious.

But I’ve met with many entrepreneurs who swore up and down that a campaign didn’t work, yet they have no hard proof.  Just what their “instincts tells them.”  There was no tracking phone number, tracking link or coupon code to verify the results.

The lesson here is that you must track your campaigns in extreme detail.  There’s no excuse not to!  There are numerous tools available to measure the results of your campaign, especially if you are running digital campaigns.

One of the best free tools available is Google Analytics, and other marketing automation tools like HubSpot have built-in campaign tracking.

If you’ve collected data from your campaign, make sure you review it in detail.  Even without impactful results, there are likely important takeaways and lessons to be learned.  Remember that marketing is about testing and retesting, and even a bad campaign can help with future ones.

#2 – Reassess your expectations

Hopefully you set very clear goals for your campaign.  If you didn’t, check out this article about setting marketing goals.

If you didn’t meet the goals you set, you should reassess whether or not your expectations were reasonable.  I’m a believer in setting large goals.  It helps push me to think bigger and achieve greater success in the long run.

But hoping to get to the first page of Google in a matter of weeks without having previously blogged (for example) is not realistic.  You’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

You should continue to set big goals, but make sure they are also attainable with the resources (time and budget) you currently have.

#3 – Review your message

An incorrect message is one of the quickest ways to sink a marketing campaign.  Most entrepreneurs create a message that they want to hear. They think “oh this sounds great!”  But the message that appeals to you as the business owner may not resonate with your target market.

Did you carefully consider the pain points that will attract your target market?  Is it a topic that will catch their interest?

It’s important to get out of your head and start thinking like your ideal clients.

#4 – Review your buyer personas

As you are evaluating your message, you also need to review your buyer personas – a detailed, written description of your ideal clients or customers.

When you developed your campaign, hopefully you outlined who you were trying to reach.  In doing so, you’re making sure that your solution is solving a specific problem for a specific group of people.

The mentality of ‘everyone is an ideal client’ is no longer effective.  Today’s consumers expect a more customized experience with content that appeals specifically to them.  The mass market approach is a guaranteed way to blow your budget without generating impactful results.

Buyer personas go a level deeper than target markets, providing more insight into the client you’d prefer to work with.  Check out this post for more information on developing a buyer persona for your campaigns.

#5 – Review your communication channels

You’ve reviewed the message and the individuals you want to reach.  You’ll also want to verify that you used the best methods to reach those buyer personas.

Many entrepreneurs fall into the same trap as the messaging for a campaign – they think they need to be visible on certain channels.  But are those channels the best way to reach your market?  Or do you like the idea of being visible in a certain publication because you read it?

Creating those detailed buyer personas will help determine the best methods for distributing your message and generating a response.

Again, it’s not about you, it’s about the buyer personas who need your product or service!

#6 – Reassess your team

Marketing dollars are shifting away from traditional strategies as consumers continue to turn to the internet and search engines.  But most business owners (or internal marketing staff) don’t have the skills needed to run effective digital marketing campaigns.

Perhaps you ran your campaign with the resources available in-house, but in hindsight you realize you didn’t have all the knowledge needed to be successful.  Mastering new techniques takes time that you may or may not have – this is true for both traditional and digital campaigns.

The success or lack of success from your campaign might indicate that you need to partner with a marketing agency with expertise in a particular area.

You’ll need to evaluate your needs and internal capabilities in order to determine if you do want to hire external help.

#7 – Reassess your timing

The best campaigns can become total flops if the timing isn’t right.

Was it vacation season with people out of the office and away from their email?  Was it the dead of winter when people aren’t interested in hearing about home improvement projects?

You can even get as detailed as specifics times during the day – visibility first thing in the morning, during the lunch hour or after work.

There’s no magic formula to help you figure this out.  You’ll need to test your campaigns and track the results.  For one of our client campaigns, we’ve determined that the best time for them to be visible on Facebook is between 4:00 PM and 9:00 PM, so that is our focus right now.

Take a detailed look at when your campaigns were running and see if it aligns with the habits of your buyer personas.

Final thoughts

The main point I want to reiterate is testing!  Running one campaign isn’t going to give you the insight you need to build a successful, long-term marketing strategy.  It will take time, and you’ll probably have a few flops along the way.

One of the reasons I love digital campaigns is the ability to collect data almost immediately and make adjustments quickly.  But obviously you’ll want to run campaigns that are the best fit for your buyer personas.

Have more questions about running a marketing campaign?  Leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to respond!

5 danger signs

Liz Hersh

I’m the founder of Hersh PR and Marketing, a boutique digital marketing agency. Our work helps companies grow leads and increase revenue.

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