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Ten Reasons Your 2012 Marketing Plan May Fail to Get Results

Ken Gaebler

It's annual marketing plan time! If you are not done preparing a 2012 marketing plan, or if you are not in the midst of writing a 2012 marketing plan, then you are behind the eight ball.Marketing Plan Mistakes to Avoid

Last year, we posted an annual marketing plan template that should come in handy again this year. We use this template for our own marketing purposes, and our marketing consultants use it with our clients as well. (Over 2,000 people have downloaded this free marketing plan template so it must be proving useful to many of you marketers out there!)

To help you with putting together a marketing plan for 2012, we thought we'd remind you of the top 10 reasons that marketing plans fail.

Top 10 Reasons for Marketing Plan Failure

  • 1. No Written Marketing Plan. Blinding glimpse of the obvious on this one -- if you don't take the time to create a marketing plan, your marketing will stink in 2012.
  • 2. Goals Are Poorly Defined. Every good plan starts with goal definition. If you don't define the goals for the plan, there's no point in preparing a marketing plan. Make sure marketing goals are aligned with the business plan and with key business objectives.
  • 3. Unattainable Goals. Nothing is worse than working a plan where the goals are not even possible. Set realistic marketing goals that can be achieved if the marketing plan is executed well.
  • 4. No Buy-In. Who executes a marketing plan? Everybody in the company. As such, the plan needs to be created with buy-in from key employees who ultimately will own the execution of the plan. Getting buy-in starts with effective marketing planning and strategy conversations.

  • 5. No Clear Responsibilities or Accountability. We've seen great marketing plans that fail because tasks are not assigned to individuals and there is no accountability. Be sure to define who is doing what when as part of your marketing plan.
  • 6. Wrong People Working the Plan. Even the best laid plans fail if the people who are in charge of execution don't have the skills and attributes needed for successful plan implementation.
  • 7. No Discipline to Execute the Plan. Some organizations talk a good game on planning but lack the discipline required to implement a plan.
  • 8. Lack of Performance Consequences. What happens when somebody succeeds at executing the marketing tasks they are responsible? What happens if they don't get their assigned tasks done? In order for a marketing plan to be executed successfully, you'll need to motivate your team, both with carrots and with sticks.
  • 9. Lack of Time or Lack of Money. Nothing is more frustrating than writing a marketing plan and then finding out that there's no budget to cover it and everybody is too busy to execute the plan. Be sure to get consensus on your marketing budget and available resources before you finalize your plan.
  • 10. Changing Market Conditions. The last reason that marketing plans can fail is the only one that's outside of your control. If there are fundamental shifts in the market, your plan may not work. For this reason, it's good to revisit your marketing plan frequently during the year to see if it needs to be updated based on changing marketing conditions.

Good luck with your marketing planning efforts (and let us know if you need any help!). In November and December, hundreds of thousands of companies will finalize their marketing plans. As long as you keep these potential marketing plan mistakes in mind, and take steps to mitigate these risks, you'll no doubt be viewed as a marketing hero within your organization, having prepared a brilliant marketing plan that is aligned with your business objectives and that can deliver the results your firm needs to achieve greatness in 2012.