Why do marketing strategies fail?

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Why do marketing strategies fail?

  • Is it because we don’t have the right tools? Perhaps.
  • Do we not have the right people? Maybe.
  • Do we have a bad strategy? This is most likely.

What is a failing marketing strategy? Recall the definition of strategy that we put forth in Marketing Blue Belt:


Strategy, succinctly put, is goals x methods, limited by time and resources/environment.

I’ve spoken to too many marketers recently who have said, “well, we’re not really sure what our goals are” or “we don’t know what kind of budget we have to work with” or “we’re not sure what tools we should be using”. These are all statements indicating your strategy is headed for failure.

  • If you have no goals, you have no strategy.
  • If you have no tools or methods, you have no strategy.

Even more important are mismatches. When I was writing Marketing Blue Belt, Bryce Moore pointed out that goals and methods are multiplicative. When you multiply a positive by a negative, it becomes a negative. Thus:

  • Right goals but wrong methods? Your strategy will still fail.
  • Wrong goals but right methods? Your strategy will still fail.

Finally, the limits on the equation of time and resources can make even the right combination of goals and methods fail to be effective.

  • If you have no resources, any strategy you devise will not be something you can execute.
  • If you have no time, no strategy will have time to achieve its goals.

As you review the past and plan for the future in your marketing, ask yourself these tough questions to determine where your marketing strategy fell down:

  • Did I have the right goals?
  • Did I have the right methods?
  • Did I have enough resources to execute?
  • Did I have enough time to execute?

This simple diagnostic test will tell you what went wrong – and how to fix it.

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