Are Your Business’ Marketing Efforts Without Lift-Off? Here’s Why

The marketing and advertising worlds have experienced a host of changes in recent years as social media, mobile apps, and other technological advances play an ever-growing role in how brands communicate their messages.

But if you aren’t getting the marketing basics right, all that wizardry won’t much matter. And that’s true whether you’re the CEO of a startup who’s trying do-it-in-house marketing; a seasoned but stretched-too-thin CMO; or the head of an advertising agency.

The bad news is that it’s not all that difficult to get marketing and advertising wrong. The – sort of – good news is that you aren’t alone if you launched a can’t-miss advertising campaign, only to see it crash and burn like an experimental rocket in the early days of NASA.

“For every published case study of successful marketing or advertising, there are hundreds of failed campaigns, muffed trials and fumbled ideas,” says Denise Kohnke, founder of the marketing firm House United LLC and author of All of the Other Marketing Books are Crap (

She says there are four possible reasons why marketing efforts never get off the ground. Those are: The CEO doesn’t understand, support, or participate in the marketing function; the marketing department is inadequately trained; the marketing effort is underfunded; the organization has an inappropriate definition of failure based on unrealistic expectations.

Work on fixing those four and a business have a good chance of hitting the stratosphere.

That might not happen overnight, but to get headed in the right direction Kohnke has a few words of wisdom to share with marketers, CEOs and anyone else handed the duty of marketing a business or product:

Learn to understand how others think. In marketing, it’s important to learn to see things from diverse points of view, particularly points of view that are very different from your own. “Understanding the motivations and worldview of your prospect audiences is key,” Kohnke says. “Find out how they learn. Then, be ready to persuade them to come to the conclusions that you want them to have.”

Share your brain. Let others in on the reasons behind what you do or what you’ve learned from your experiences. “Reveal your innermost secrets to others,” Kohnke says. The more that people are willing to share their knowledge and experiences, the better the odds of a successful marketing or advertising campaign. Agencies, for example, should tell their clients how the client can do a better job of working with them. “And my message to everyone would be, don’t be jerky people and hold hostility or information inside,” she says.

Look to hone your skills. If you’re an employee, add value to the people who sign your check, even if that means putting yourself in charge of your own professional development. If you’re a CEO, learn to cultivate your talent and understand when to

get input from outside of your organization. “No one wants to work for a frugal loser,” Kohnke says. “Strive to win.” If you’re an agency, understand that your responsibility is to serve. Begin by asking the right questions, even if your client doesn’t want to answer them, she says.
Know that you’re a powerful force. Through marketing you have the ability to do the single most important thing in the world: persuade others to do or think something. You can have an effect on culture, revenue, opinions and conduct. “Your actions can save lives, literally and metaphorically,” Kohnke says.

“People who know how to communicate strategically have the ability to change the world,” Kohnke says. “Our skill set is rare, but when unleashed, it can change bad to good.”

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