18 Ways You’re Ruining Your Marketing Campaign

Ian Lurie

Just a quick week-of-July-4th, I haven’t-gotten-to-rant-in-a-while rant:

  1. Say you have something when you don’t. You may think that 200 units is enough for your big product launch. But the customers you lose because you’re out of stock will seek alternatives. Make sure your product sourcing is sound, and you can fulfill market demand.
  2. Say nothing when you have something. I’m sorry, but it’s very unlikely that your product or service will succeed based purely on its engineering, design or performance. There are too many other companies shouting for attention. At least buy a few pay per click ads, for heaven’s sake.
  3. Depend on just one channel. If you build your entire business around ranking #1 for ‘flibbergibbet,’ what will you do when (not if – WHEN) you lose that #1 ranking? Make sure you’ve got multiple ways to fill your funnel. If you wait until your pipeline chokes, it’s too late.
  4. Pull numbers out of your keister. 1 million visitors converting at 10% means 100,000 customers. Cool! Are there 1 million customers? Can you convert them at 10%? If you don’t know, don’t stake your business on it. Use real data sources to figure out what’s out there. Yes, the data may cost money. No, you don’t have a choice.
  5. Make sure you have more options than ‘win’ or ‘die.’ You must have multiple levels of success. If your growth plan means breaking even in a best-case scenario, you’re doomed. Take it from a lifelong pessimist: You never get the best-case scenario.
  6. Hire the low bidder. They’re worth every penny. If you want a good result, hire the folks who you trusted the first time you met them. Not the ones who knocked off a few bucks.
  7. Use what you like. Yes, you love your car. No, it has nothing to do with your crime scene cleanup business. Remove it from your home page. Please.
  8. Confuse mission with values. Your company’s mission is where you want to go. Your values are how you get there. If you have a mission and no values, or vice-versa, your marketing will, well, suck eggs. By the way, I’m not talking about a ‘mission statement.’ Those gems are typically committee-created polysyllabic catastrophes. I’m talking about your mission. Why do you do what you do?
  9. Roll your eyes at your own mission. If you can’t take it seriously, no one else will, either, and that means your marketing team will go spinning off in all directions.
  10. Abdicate. You are in charge. You need to say ‘that sucks’ if your marketing folks give you something awful. If you don’t, you bear the responsibility for it.
  11. Have crappy infrastructure. I don’t care how purty your web site is. If it takes 10 seconds to load, you’ve lost me. If it’s a pain in the rear to check out, you’ve lost me. If it crashes when you have 1,000 simultaneous users, well, you lost everyone else. Don’t accept a shrug from your development team regarding poor performance or other issues. Get them to fix it.
  12. Chase shiny things. If you’re jumping from mobile to social to HTML5 to Twitter to Facebook to apps to billboards to snifforama (made that one up), you’re taking your marketing team with you. That means nothing gets done. Set your strategy. Then let the team make and execute the plan. Don’t tug them off track.
  13. Do it right the third time. Fixing stuff after launch is ridiculously expensive. Here’s a crazy idea: What if your site, the day it launched, had no duplicate content? What if it loaded smokin’ fast? What if there were no broken links, and everything was spelled correctly? I’ll tell you what: You’ll sell more stuff.
  14. Allow bottlenecks. See #10. No one gets to tell you something ‘has to wait until these other things are done.’ You can set (reasonable) priorities, and change them when reasonable, too. If you need something done, get it done. Hand-wringing won’t get you more customers.
  15. Stare at the data. A watched traffic report never grows. Or something. If you call me every day asking why you’re not getting more sales, and I explain, then that’s time not spent helping you get more sales.
  16. Kill the messenger. If your VP of Marketing reports you’re not going to meet the Q1 sales goal, say thanks. They were the only one with the cojones to tell you. Don’t punish the people with integrity and your best interests at heart.
  17. Pose problems, but no solutions. If you’re the VP of Marketing making that lousy sales report, be ready to suggest ways to do better in Q2. Nothing drives me insane faster than people coming into my office, screaming “OHHHH GOOOODDDD WE ARE DOOOOOMMMEEED” and then standing there as if I can wave my +1 Wand of Awesome. Have 2 potential solutions for every problem, before you report the problem.
  18. Run a democracy. You’re the decider. Decide!
Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. Hi Ian, I am a first time reader and have to say that I am glad i stumbled on your blog! I work for an agency so am always trying to find useful blogs etc. Love the post, just read your piece ‘How Google ruined marketing’, it wouldn’t allow me to comment so I shall say it here- Probably one of the wittiest and most interesting pieces I have read in a long time! I have subscribed to your RSS Feed! I am officially a fan.

  2. Right. On. These admonitions can apply to lots of other areas other than marketing. I know, as I’m guilty of many of them. Especially liked #7. It is so difficult for some to get on the other side of the looking glass.

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