WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR MARKETING CAMPAIGN BOMBS
It's an inevitable fact of doing business. You can do everything right, from planning to implementing, and you will still eventually have a marketing campaign that crashes and burns. Sometimes, it's no one's fault. The economy might be bad. Or perhaps it's just run of the mill horrible luck. Most of the time, though, there is something, somewhere, that could have been done more carefully. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to determine what that “something” is. Could it be something major, like the copywriting? Or was it something seemingly benign, like the size of your direct mail postcards?
The big question: how do you pick up the pieces and recoup losses when a campaign flops? Well, this question has no easy answer. Step one would be to determine where your efforts failed so that it doesn't happen again. The next step is not always so easily defined. In some cases, there will be a quick fix, and you can possibly do another campaign right away. In other cases, you may have no choice but to cut your losses and do better the next time around.
The first step...finding out what went wrong
In a marketing campaign, especially a large scale one, there are numerous wheels turning at once. So many components are involved, it can be difficult to keep track of everything. That's one reason why most larger businesses have entire departments just for various marketing segments. In a small business, however, there usually aren't enough resources for that, so you're responsible for pulling everything together by yourself, or with limited help.
A few of the things that could go wrong in any given campaign are listed below. This list is by no means extensive, but they are common areas where businesses, especially new or small businesses, blunder.
- Did you use a targeted list? Or rather, did you research your target market and send to those individuals or companies most likely to need to your product or service?
- Was your message tailored to that audience?
- Is your copywriting focused and professional? Does it focus on the customer and his needs, rather than how great you are? Does it include a call to action?
- Did you have professional graphics and photos?
- Did you use a professional layout for whatever marketing collateral you used?
- How many pieces of that collateral did you send?
- How long did you give it before calculating your response?
Each of these areas could be to blame for the failure of your campaign, so it's important to evaluate each of them carefully before moving forward.
There are timeless rules when it comes to copywriting, whether for printed collaterals or for the web. Messages should be written to your target audience, and should address their problems or concerns. They shouldn't be self congratulatory, and they shouldn't jump right in with a sales pitch. Get them interested first. They should be conversational in tone, and should speak your audience's language. They should also be focused. By that, you should tailor the benefit to the person you're talking to. For instance, if you're trying to sell a car to a mom with young children, you'd point out that it had great safety features rather than its impressive speed.
Your marketing messages will fail if you don't know who you're talking to. Who is most likely to buy your products? What do they want in products like yours? What are their concerns, or motivations, when choosing products? If you don't know the answer to these questions, then you need to do more market research. Without knowing as much as you can about your ideal customer, you can't write a message just for them.
Graphics and Photos
Customers can tell if you threw something together. If your graphics consist of ClipArt from Word, then you need to upgrade your standards. The same goes for pixelated photographs that you thought no one would notice. Your customers do notice, and they won't take you as seriously if it seems like not even you care how you look.
People go to school to study advertising and graphic design for a reason. Certain layouts, colors, and even textures have been shown to increase response rates. While a mediocre layout probably wouldn't totally kill off an entire campaign if everything else was stellar, it could make a low response campaign even lower.
Number of Pieces
You can't send out ten postcards and expect to make sales. If you didn't send at least 100 emails, cards, or other materials, you may just need to keep going. That said, 100 send outs should have garnered you at least one response. If you haven't gotten at least a nibble or two, then reconsider the other aspects of your campaign as well.
Sometimes campaigns take time to work. You probably won't send out 100 sales letters today and get 50 new customers tomorrow as a result. Sometimes customers trickle in after a campaign. You might get new buyers weeks, or even months, after the letter was sent. If you haven't given it at least a month or two, give it some more time and see if your results improve.
That being said, it's also important that you have realistic expectations. On average, a marketing campaign is considered successful with a one to two percent response rate. That means for every 1,000 pieces you send, you should get 100 responses. Not all of those responses will become customers. Some will buy right away. Others will express interest but not buy at that time, and others will either not be interested or fail to respond altogether. Keep the names and contact information for those who expressed an interest, and touch base with them later.
Once you've figured out all the areas in which your campaign could have been better, what can you do to recoup your losses? Well, if it's a major issue, such as the copywriting being way off the mark, there isn't much you can do to save the campaign. You can focus your energy instead on finding new customers with less pricey avenues, such as social media or cold calling until you can afford to pursue another campaign.
For simple to fix issues, like not sending enough pieces or not sending them to the right people, you may be able to up your efforts by sending more to a targeted list. If you do have to scratch the campaign and start all over, be sure to consider the things previously mentioned to ensure your next campaign is a hit.