What to do when your marketing campaign doesn't go as well as you expected

Recently, I attended an International Women’s Day conference where I was inspired and encouraged by the women and men alike who spoke truth, offered guidance, and provided leadership on how to come together within our society. Many topics were expanded upon, but one stuck out in particular: How to approach failure and how to get back up when you fall. 

I get it. This is a tough subject. It’s hard to admit when we’ve failed. As the old saying from Gene Kranz goes, “Failure isn’t an option.” But unfortunately, sometimes it’s just something we can’t avoid. We’re human. It happens. 

Not only do we make mistakes in our personal lives, but sometimes we run into failed ideas, failed products, and failed campaigns in our work-life. 

And as much as some marketers would love to promise you the clicks, likes, impressions, leads, and sales they're going to get you from a future campaign, it takes a brave and authentic marketer to look you in the eyes and say, “We are going to launch this in a few different ways and closely monitor the response we're getting so that we can adjust and continually improve this campaign for you. We have set goals, but we expect that we'll have to optimize this along the way. There is no guarantee, but we are going to work with you until we figure it out together."

So, the real question is, whether you’re a marketer, a business executive, or a team member, how should you approach failure if your marketing campaign didn’t go as well as you expected it to?

Here are 3 tips that were taught during the conference that can easily transfer to how to approach a failed marketing campaign with your team.

 

3 things to do when your marketing campaign doesn't go as well as you expected it to: 

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1. Evaluate Your System, then Adjust.

Let’s get one thing straight. Dr. Guy Winch, licensed psychologist, author, and speaker explained that it’s never actually you, your co-workers, your employees, or anyone in your life that actually fails as a person. It’s the system that was used that had failed.

In the marketing world, that could mean that it was the lack of time you put into researching your target market, when you’ve been posting your social media statuses, what list you’re sending your emails to, the type of content you’re using for your audience, or a whole string of things along those lines.

What do all of these things have in common? Well, none of them have to do with the person themselves. They all had to do with the way things were done.

This is exactly why it’s so important to have a way to measure the results of your campaign. Take the small bets first. Start performing a mini version of your marketing campaign and test it out. To avoid a major fail, see how a small campaign goes first. That should ultimately show you the results you can expect for performing that campaign at a larger scale. 

The key takeaway is to look for the facts behind the campaign. When did you post that social media post? Who did the email get sent out to? What kind of target market research did you perform and was it enough? Once you start evaluating these facts from your campaign, you’re able to easily adjust and try a new system of operations. Rather than jumping to conclusions and blaming specific people for the campaign failure, look at the statistics, then make reasonable adjustments to the campaign.

 

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2. Bring Your Team Together and Unleash Your Greatness.

Buhle Dlamini, an award-winning entrepreneur and author, explained that to understand your full potential as an organization is a key part of continuing to pursue excellence in everything you do. If you find yourself unmotivated after a failed marketing campaign, try bringing your team together to discuss these 5 things:

  1. Be Who You Be: No, this isn’t a typo. It’s actually what Buhle recommended to do! Ultimately, from a brand’s standpoint, embrace who you are and find your distinction. After a failed marketing attempt, it can seem so tempting to fall into what other brands are doing. But be who you be. This will make you all the more real to your customers and leads.
  2. Pursue Excellence: In other words, keep moving forward. Don’t fall into the lethargic trap of doing something half-way because “you know it won’t work.” In everything you do, encourage your team to pursue excellence. Even if that means failing a few times before you hit the jackpot. 
  3. Live Your Values: As a company, make sure that you are living our values. Brands need things that they don’t compromise on. That’s what makes your company more human-like to those you’re serving. Reflect on the previous campaign. Were you living out your company’s values in it? If not, try honing in on those values and adding them to your next marketing campaign. 
  4. Unleash a Winning Attitude: Attitude is everything. Especially after a campaign didn’t go the way you thought it would. Bring your team together and encourage and support them for the next one. Your attitude not only shapes your own thoughts, but it can shape the thoughts of others. Unleash a winning attitude and others will want to do the same.
  5. Create Your Future: What do you want the future of your company to look like? Speak up, then let others speak up and start deciding how you want to handle your campaigns in the future. Do you want to continue to sulk in the past failures, or do you want to follow these 5 steps and get your employees back on their feet? 

Bring your team and co-workers together and reflect on these 5 things. How can you make your campaign fit under these aspects?

 

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3. Don’t Let Failure Stop You. Keep Moving Forward.

When you fail at a task, you become less creative at the next task. So when it comes to a marketing campaign, those who believed their campaign failed would most likely produce less innovative ideas on the next campaign. Failure leaves us feeling helpless. 

However, Manon Rheaume, known as “The First Woman in Hockey,” explained that beating the odds, experiencing failure, and getting back up again is just something we have to get used to. She offered 3 simple tricks to getting back up again after things don’t go as planned: 

  1. Change Your Mindset: Don’t stick around too long in the past. The “should have,” “would have,” and “could haves” will only make it worse. Change your mindset to embark back on the journey of creating a better marketing campaign than you did before. Alter your next campaign to include your “should have,” “would have,” and “could haves” instead of sulking in them.
  2. Identify Your “Why”: Regain a sense of your purpose for why you’re trying to accomplish your goals in the first place. Find the bigger meaning in the campaign that you’re running and try to understand what you can learn from the failures. Understanding your “why” will help you to continue to push on and get the results you’re looking for. 
  3. Develop an Action Plan and Timeline to Accomplish Your Goals: Get back out there! So your first campaign didn’t go as planned… Go back to Guy’s tip talked about in “Evaluate Your System, then Adjust” and analyze the facts of your campaign. Find a pattern of what might have not worked. Then create a new action plan to help you reach your KPIs and marketing initiatives.

Keep moving forward, keep inspecting your data, and keep setting up reasonable action plans to get you back on track towards accomplishing your marketing goals. 

 

How do you normally approach a failed marketing campaign? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

 

Next Steps:

If you seem to be running into failed marketing campaigns often, try taking the small bets first. Test your campaign out, see what results you get, then adjust from there. It's important to take a look at what your data has been telling you about your campaigns. This will often show you underlying patterns that you might not have noticed before. 

 

Don’t have a way to measure your marketing? Not a problem! Contact us and we’ll help you get started. 

 

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About 1 Bold Step

At 1 Bold Step we believe that everything can be more efficient, but especially marketing. Acting as an extension of a client’s marketing department (onsite or virtually), we help create systems, order, and accountability. With a focus on increasing sales and proving return on marketing investment, we’re determined to change marketing from overhead to value add. 

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