By Cheryl Strege, The Partner Marketing Group


As marketers, we often pin our hopes and dreams on the fantastic (in our opinion) marketing campaigns we create to add new customers and drive more revenue. However, hidden in our closets, there are more campaigns that crashed and burned because a step was missed, a trend was ignored, or a shortcut was taken. Here are 5 easy ways to kill what could have been a successful campaign:

1. Ignore Marketing Trends

The trend in marketing for several years now has been toward “inbound” efforts as opposed to “outbound.” Outbound is “PUSH” marketing—pushing out messages through emails, direct mails, advertisements, and telesales. Inbound is “PULL” and includes SEO, blogging, social media marketing, content marketing, etc.—all those tactics you use to attract prospects to you. You may have heard people talk in exclusive terms saying inbound has replaced outbound. I don’t agree. Inbound is absolutely critical and will be the bulk of what you do in the years ahead, but outbound still has a place. For example, nurture marketing is still an outbound touch and is essential.

2. Avoid Goal Setting

Can you still get away with saying “who knows what the result will be so any kind of forecasting will likely be wrong?” Or “marketing isn’t really trackable.” Perhaps the truth is more like “If I don’t have a goal, I’m not responsible for the outcome. I don’t want to be held accountable for a goal I can’t control.”

Start with your past experience. Review metrics of former campaigns and get an educated guess on paper. It’s important to establish a baseline so you have a point to build from.

[bctt tweet=”Are you killing your #marketing campaign? If you’re doing these 5 things you probably are.” username=”PartnerMktGrp”]

3. Purchase an Email List

This is one of the most critical steps in determining success or failure. You’re almost certain to choke the life out your carefully crafted campaign by purchasing an email list. Not only are email list brokers notorious for disappearing (and popping up later under another name) after they’ve dumped a mostly undeliverable list on you, but the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) takes a dim view of spamming.

Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $40,654. Yes, that is PER EMAIL so if you get caught spamming 100 prospects, that is a potential penalty of $4,065,400. For the most part, that will put your company out of business and you looking for a new job. Also, that is the reason email delivery services such as MailChimp and Constant Contact prohibit the use of purchased email lists.

The best email list is the one you’ve diligently worked on (meaning it is opt-in) and nurtured. It comes from sources such as events, tradeshows, and networking events you’ve attended, webcasts you’ve held, referral sources, your social media efforts, and your website—which should be loaded with irresistible offers that prospects give up their contact info to get.  (If you don’t have those irresistible offers, we should talk.)

4. Be as Generic as Possible

Really want to kill your marketing campaign? Please don’t bother to do any homework and segment the list, the offer, and the messaging by…

  • Market size
  • Number of contacts
  • Industry/vertical
  • Size of the business
  • Geography
  • Role/persona

Just market to anyone and everyone in the database. By casting the widest net possible, sure some fish might be scooped up but, unfortunately, probably not the ideal “catch” you wanted. And the sales team will be sure to let everyone know that once they’ve tried—and failed— to contact the supposed leads.

Instead, spend some time identifying your sweet spot. Is it growing financial services organizations with revenues between 2M-10M within 150 miles of your firm? What do you uniquely offer that group that is better than the competition? Once you define the sweet spot, it will be much easier to properly segment your lists and create the messaging and offer those prospects desire.

5. Metrics Are Just No Fun

I get it. As marketers we often view ourselves as creative right-brain thinkers. Definitely not those “left-brainers” who are all about math and logic. But metrics ARE an important part of a marketing campaign and you have to admit, it’s pretty hard to show off your success if there are no numbers to back up the claim.

According to, there are 5 critical marketing metrics such as ROI, CPA (cost-per-action), and CLV (customer lifetime value)—but there are a few others to incorporate as well such as MQLs (marketing qualified leads), opportunity-to-sales conversion rate, closing rate, and more.

With today’s tools such as CRM, MAS (marketing automation software), website analytics, social analytics, etc., there’s little excuse not to have metrics from each and every marketing action taken. The tools can be invaluable in making good decisions and understanding why some weren’t as successful. After all, since we’re smart, we learn something from each failure and the metrics help us adjust course when necessary.


My last tip is ask for help. There’s no shortage of excellent articles, tutorials, and webcasts on the topic of successful marketing. For example, check out our eBook resources. Then take the next step and talk to a marketing firm that knows your industry inside and out. If you’re a software or technology company, that’s us—The Partner Marketing Group. We can assess your marketing plan to look for gaps and weaknesses so you avoid campaign mistakes, and/or help you create irresistible content that draws prospects in.

You probably have your own list of campaign killers, right? Please feel free to share your lessons learned in the comments!


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