5 Reasons Your Marketing Is A White Hot Mess

by Heather Rast |

“Whaa? Are you talkin’ to me?” Yeah, I’m talking to you. Whether you’re part of a small marketing team or just a regular ol’ small biz (where everyone wears a marketing hat), I’m talking to you. Specifically, you team managers or small business owners who, along with an assistant and intern, do it all.

Or maybe I should say, do it all wrong.

White. Hot. Mess. Your marketing programs may be in poor shape for some of these reasons (why stop at 5?):

  1. Misplaced value
  2. Vague or inconsistent priorities
  3. Not beginning with the end in mind
  4. Confusing control with direction (as in, you’re a freak)
  5. Following the [market] leader instead of finding your blue ocean
  6. Forgetting your audience
  7. Selling fuzzy stuff
  8. Letting success be your cloying, comfy blanket
  9. Measuring by the numbers alone
  10. Never connecting the dots to see the big picture that surfaces
  11. Persisting to build things nobody wants

There could a boatload of other reasons why your marketing program results are scattershot (or inadvertently controversial) and you’re your widgets aren’t flying out the door. Some of the reasons above just seem tomarketing teams white hot mess repeatedly trip up companies big and small. Maybe while you’re giving these 11 pulsating missteps careful thought you’ll discover other important, even systemic, areas within your company in need of a fix. The first step to improvement is awareness, right?

Surprise! There’s more

It may be surprising to find that central to the hot, gooey mess aren’t “marketing” type problems at all. At the core may be management and leadership issues, or problems with roots in communication or organizational dynamics. Heavy stuff, probably less easily fixed than a banner ad or email campaign gone awry.

Yeah, I can’t help you with that stuff (although I have a client that can ~ call me). <ducks>

The point is, we can never stop asking ourselves some critical questions. And we need to scratch beneath the surface of our marketing problems in order to reveal the hidden, and often ugly, truth underneath. (hint: beneath the sad response rate was a message that was muddy and lacked inspiration)

Those messes on the surface? The failed Facebook contest intended to gain a bajillion new fans? Well, some types of failures are really manifestations of bigger things.

When we fail to recognize that our creative interests or knack for Excel pivot tables or burning desire to get the message out to as many people as possible, when we let our minds narrow with the constraints of our past experiences (“hey, it got us #1 in Google for one of our key terms, lets just do that again!”), we leave a lot on the table.

We get myopic. We just see here and over there, and allow automatic parallel parking can take over. Moreover, we can begin to discount the merit of other strategies or tactics surfaced by interested team members (if we even hear them at all). As we increasingly focus on the things we believe to be right, we can close off and tune out.

This is your chance to begin repairing the white hot mess that surrounds and bounds your marketing team.

  • What are you really working toward? Think about all the findings and friends (allies, brand advocates, strategic partners, etc.) you can collect along the journey to reach your destination  (biz objective) when you take measured, introspective steps.
  • Does the objective make sense? Is it, and the goals you’ve established, right for your business? Or simply someone else’s version of “right” that you never questioned?
  • Are you seeking good hires, but never really allowing them to take ownership and fully commit emotionally to their work?
  • Have you set them up for success, with realistic expectations and clear objectives, and the authority to enlist support systems and tap necessary resources?
  • Are you actively creating a culture that tolerates informed failure, giving employees the liberty and accountability necessary to drive change?
  • Are you measuring without mistaking correlation for cause?
  • Insert other slightly discomfiting questions here.

Now shoo, get out of here. Go clean up your mess (but not before leaving a comment about one of your biggest non-marketing lessons learned).

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About the Author

Heather Rast

Heather is Principal of a boutique Cedar Rapids digital marketing company. She develops brand positioning strategy and marketing communications plans to distinguish small businesses from the competition and attract their ideal customers. Her content planning, writing, and online community-building work helps larger businesses better serve their audiences with useful information that solves problems as it builds affinity for the brand.