5 Ways to Turn a Failed Marketing Campaign into a Win

KB_small By Kirsten Butzow, Pragmatic Institute Instructor Not every marketing campaign is met with the same success as Intel’s “Intel Inside” or Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign. In fact, sometimes even the most carefully executed campaigns are met with crickets. Why? What causes one campaign to catch on like wildfire while another fails to even create a spark? There are a variety of reasons—timing, a change in the market, competition, to name a few. But, the two most common reasons for marketing campaign failure are not truly knowing your market or creating a product that doesn’t solve a true market problem. While a campaign flop does take the wind out of your sails (and sales), it also presents an opportunity to learn, pivot and come back stronger. With the right analysis and documentation, program failures can become goldmines for shaping future campaigns. Here are five key steps to turn low performers into winning opportunities.
  1. Get out and talk to the market.
If most marketing campaigns fail because they don’t resonate with the target market, then it only makes sense to get out from behind the computer and go talk to those people. What do they care about? What problems do they have? How do they define or think about your product? Where do they get their news and information? Maybe you had the right messaging, but didn’t deliver it through the right channels.
  1. Re-define your market.
You and your team likely defined the market during the product development phase, or at the very least prior to the initial marketing campaign. But it may be time to revisit this to be sure you are in fact targeting the right market. The aforementioned interviews will help you determine this. You might find there’s actually a subgroup of the original group you were marketing to that will be a better fit, or that the market has shifted altogether. Once you’ve reaffirmed or refined your target market, create three to five personas for the type of people you are aiming to reach. These personas are not stereotypes, but archetypes based on facts and findings from research and interviews. Your persona needs to have a name, age, occupation, likes and dislikes, favorite products, hobbies, news sources, etc. to establish a clear picture of who your products are for. You need to have an understanding of their overall goals or desired customer experience when they use your products and services.
  1. Dig into the numbers.
As painful as it may be to review lackluster numbers, don’t avoid them. These provide a wealth of insight. You might benchmark these against previous successful campaigns or simply take note of what worked and what didn’t. But the key here is to go beyond the surface. Don’t just look at your email open rate. Instead review what time that email was most opened. Did a certain subject line perform better than another? What was happening in the news that day? What was clicked on most in that email? Did it include a call to action? Document what was effective versus ineffective and refer to this in planning your next campaign.
  1. Understand the stages.
Along every buyer journey there are multiple stages. Your job is to identify what those stages are and create messages specific to each. These messages should address objections buyers may have at each of those stages, but also articulate your brand’s strengths. If you already have customers, find out why they bought from you and at what stage they decided to make that commitment. Perhaps more importantly, talk to potential customers, those currently looking at your solution as well as the competitor’s. What do they care about? What objections do they have? Refine your messaging and strategy accordingly.
  1. Debrief with the team.
This session is not about finger pointing or placing blame. All involved must feel comfortable contributing to this conversation. Check all egos at the door. And establish a positive tone. The goal is to identify the root causes behind what worked and what didn’t. Discuss what the campaign successes were and what can be improved upon. What did you discover during your customer interviews and market research? How can you more effectively speak to and reach the personas you’ve identified? Document what can be used in the future then create an action plan for revising the marketing campaign. Going forward be sure you are measuring at intervals along the way so you can make adjustments or quickly pivot before you venture too far deep into the marketing campaign. Regular check-ins and debriefings with the team can help you avoid spending valuable time and budget on ineffective strategies.

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