The 13 Most Common Things Brands Say About Marketing

Sara Thomas

Whether you’re a single owner/operator, or the director of marketing at a large corporation, there will probably come a time when you’re frustrated by something your marketing team did… or didn’t do. That’s when one of the thirteen marketing complaints listed below will make its appearance. 

Read on for some guidance on how to address each of these common issues and get your marketing back on track.

The 13 Most Common Things Brands Say About Marketing 1

1. “I know my business needs a marketing plan, but I don’t know where to start.” 

Trying to write a marketing plan can be an overwhelming task, but it’s vital for every business to have one. Like any other big project, creating an outline and breaking the work up into sections can make things more manageable. Understanding the events that set your core customers on their path to purchase is essential. Start by detailing the customer journey, and think about how your marketing can influence consumers before, during, and after these motivating events. If you get stuck, turn to resources like blogs and industry articles.

Tip: Write down the business goals you think marketing might help you achieve, and work backward from there.

2. “My marketing plan is done, but I’m too busy to implement it.”

You put a ton of time and effort into crafting your marketing plan, now it’s time to put that plan into action. If you have freelancers, vendors and media partners lined up, this step in the process should go smoothly. If you need to track down these partners, the time investment can start to creep up on you, taking your attention away from other important tasks. 

Calculate what your likely time investment will be for each item on your plan, and what that might come out to in dollars. This exercise can help reveal where it makes sense to bring in outside help, and what makes sense to keep on your plate.

Tip: Avoid the sunk-cost fallacy when executing on your marketing plan.

3. “I know I need marketing, but I can’t justify the budget.”

The perception that marketing is “too expensive” certainly isn’t a new one, and is often the result of frustrations with ineffective campaigns that had big budgets and disappointing results.

Making sure your advertising dollars are spent wisely boils down to two things: setting measurable goals, and choosing trustworthy marketing partners who will help you achieve them. Once you do those two things, you’ll start to feel good about your marketing spend.

Tip: Your marketing budget should be roughly 8% – 10% of your business’ net income (and can vary depending on your growth goals).

4. “The same marketing that worked for us before isn’t yielding the same results. What gives?”

Even the most airtight plan can start to show cracks over time. Whether it’s a result of external forces (increased competition), or something internal (introduction of a new product offering), there will come a time when a new strategy, a freshened approach, and the integration of new tactics is needed. When that happens, don’t panic! Just refresh, revise, and strategize. You might even discover that new data and technologies can take your marketing plan to places the old one could have never reached.

Tip: Give your marketing plan to an outside advisor for review. They can help identify shortcomings that your in-house team might have missed.

5. “How do I know if my marketing is working? It feels like a waste of money.”

This is the sister complaint to “marketing is too expensive,” and it can be addressed with a similar rebuttal: it all boils down to goal setting and agency accountability. 

With the depth of consumer data, media attribution and other marketing tech available today, there’s no reason to be in the dark about results. If you’re using measurement metrics and still aren’t hitting your KPIs, dig deeper into the customer journey and push your agency to figure out where the issues are. Research, revision, testing and reporting will help you figure out where your marketing is going wrong.

Tip: Always gut-check your marketing with some common sense. Obsessing over results can lead to major oversights and missed opportunities.

6.  “I launched a marketing campaign, but the results haven’t boosted my bottom line.”

This one takes us back to diagnostics. Your marketing plan is sick, and it’s up to you to figure out what’s wrong with it. Things like attribution technology, A/B testing, focus groups, media auditing and other tools can help you identify the issue and fix it. 

With some investigation, you may find that your marketing plan is working after all… just not toward the goal you’re trying to achieve. Retool your tactics to achieve success for the target goal.

Tip: Sometimes a shortcoming in operations can be to blame for missed conversions. Walk through the customer journey yourself to make sure the buying process is seamless and enjoyable.

7. “My current marketing looks great and the creative cost a bundle to produce, but it’s not having the impact I had hoped.”

A beautiful ad will do you no good if it’s not reaching the right audience, and a perfectly-placed campaign that doesn’t communicate your product’s USP won’t work either. Work with your marketing team to make sure all aspects of your plan are working towards your strategic goals. Strategy should infuse every part of your marketing plan, including the creative. It’s okay to have a little sizzle, so long as the steak is still there.

Tip: Analyze your spend on creative relative to your spend on media. Make sure that the bulk of your investment is in getting your message out, not in creating your assets.

8. “A new competitor just entered my market, and their commercials are everywhere. How can I compete?”

When competition starts biting into your market share, it’s frustrating. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to remove the external threat. 

Use what you can control to overcome your competition. Really focus messaging around your USP. Identify your highest-value customers and start targeting people like them. Reward loyal customers, and look for opportunities to branch out to other customer segments. Make sure your media spend is effective and competitive. With a strategic approach and a mix of smart media and messaging, your market share should start to increase.

Tip: Create negative customer personas in addition to your positive ones to ensure you’re not wasting your time and money trying to convert people who will never buy from you.

9. “I’m going to market, and I need to get customers. Where do I start?”

Embarking on a new venture is exciting. It can also be really daunting. Are you launching something truly unique? Or are you entering a well-established (but crowded) market? Both come with their own unique challenges. Before you start to look outward to the external threats, take time to establish what makes your product or service different and better. Why should people choose your brand over the competition? Once you identify your USP, the rest of the pieces—messaging, marketing plan, media strategy—should start to fall into place.

Tip: Use your “boots on the ground” to get a feel for local flavor. Managers, employees and local vendors can be valuable sources of information.

10. “My brand isn’t well known and it’s hurting my sales.”

A lack of awareness can have many causes, but a major one is underspending on marketing. Work with your marketing partner to cast a wide net to reach as much of your target market as possible with clear, unique messaging. As you drill down on audience and messaging, layer on more targeted media channels to work in tandem with your reach mediums. Don’t stop marketing once awareness of your brand starts to increase, or you’ll lose momentum and find yourself right back where you started.

Tip: Try to achieve a good amount of saturation with your reach mediums before you add on other layers. The resulting awareness will give more targeted campaigns something to build off of.

11. “Our clientele is getting older, we need to attract a different kind of customer if we want to survive.”

Finding new customers in a constantly fragmenting retail world can seem overwhelming. Start by identifying which of your products or services might appeal to a new customer base, without compromising your brand identity. This could mean slightly rebranding a current product, or simply customizing messaging to appeal to a new customer segment. Your marketing team can help you look for opportunities. 

Then, work up a customer persona. Utilize research tools to identify what media your new customer segment is consuming. Create messaging and a media plan specific to this new segment. Simply repurposing your existing creative won’t do; execute with focus and watch your conversions grow.

Tip: Don’t expand to new customer segments until you’ve found success marketing to your core customer.

12. “I’m moving into a new territory — how can I ensure success?”

Once again, research is your friend. Take time to learn about the new market and its people. Resources like census data and information from local media reps can give you the broad strokes, and Mosaic Segments and competitive spending data can fill in the blanks. Consider external factors like weather and other seasonalities that may have an affect on your marketing. If you have the means, conduct focus groups to uncover local eccentricities (“everyone shops at Bob’s Sporting Goods because he used to be the mayor”).

Finally, plan for the long haul. Today’s fragmented media consumption means that you need to plan for at least six months of media spend to gain meaningful market share.

Tip: Adding eCommerce? Treat it the same way you would a new market, especially when it comes to surveying the competition.

13. “Marketing isn’t my specialty, and my support staff doesn’t have the skills to help.”

You can’t be an expert at everything–and that’s okay! Smart outsourcing is something savvy business owners and marketing directors are well-versed in. It frees them up to focus on their daily tasks and topline strategy, making them (and their businesses) more successful.

Adding a team of marketing experts to your business arsenal can save you time and money in the long run. Assess whether a full-service agency or a few hand-picked consultants and freelancers will work best for your situation.

Tip: Work with an agency on a single project before committing to an AOR or something more long-term. This lets you test out the chemistry, workflow, and results before you go all-in.

Hopefully this information about some of the most common marketing questions and complaints has armed you with the knowledge you need to take control of your advertising and move forward with success. If there are areas where you need more help or are looking for resources, reach out and someone on the team can point you in the right direction.