Why do marketing campaigns fail?
Whether you're a new or established education brand, your marketing campaigns will fail if they look like this:
Sending occasional emails to your entire list
Running online ads for two weeks
Stuffing a couple of blog posts with SEO keywords
Sponsoring one conference
So, why do marketing campaigns fail? For the most part, it comes down to 4 C's - clarity, campaign, customer, consistency. When you're a small organization with limited resources dedicated to marketing, it's common for your marketing not to account for the 4 C's. But if you want to see the results you're looking for from your marketing investments, these are steps you should follow.
Every marketing campaign must start with clarity around what the business goal is. This is a crucial step that is oftentimes overlooked. Your marketing initiatives will fail if you don't take the time to clarify the purpose of your marketing because you won't know how to evaluate how marketing is helping the organization.
Are you launching a new product? Do you want to sell to a new market? The more focused your goal is, the better. Once you have the business goal established, you can then create the marketing goal.
Let's say you have a subscription-based tutoring app for foreign language classes. You have been selling it directly to parents, and now you want to sell it to schools. Your goals might be:
Increase revenue by 20% from sales to school districts.
Generate demand from school districts in the mid-Atlantic, leading to 50 marketing qualified leads (MQLs) in the first six months.
There are a few things to point out in this example that are important for any marketing goal:
The marketing goal relates to the business goal. The business needs more sales. Marketing is going to generate awareness and bring in leads to the sales team.
The marketing goal is focused on a specific target audience. The sales team might focus on school districts across the country, but effective marketing narrows in on a particular audience (more on this later).
There is a number to strive for in the goal. It will be hard to come up with a target number when you're starting out, but it helps to make an informed estimate so that the team has a general idea of the expectations. After you've launched, you'll have actual data and can adjust your goal.
The goal has a timeline. The timeline will dictate the calendar for your marketing campaign so you can plan your marketing activities accordingly.
By definition, a campaign is "a connected series of operations designed to bring about a particular result." In marketing, a campaign is when you run multiple marketing activities at the same time that relate to each other, focused on a goal.
Sending out occasional emails or sponsoring a conference are not marketing campaigns. Those are one-off marketing tactics, and your marketing will fail because they are not ongoing, connected activities aimed at a goal.
To help you plan integrated marketing campaigns, start by thinking about the marketing funnel or buyer's journey—the process people take when they make a purchase. First, they realize they have a problem. Then they look for solutions, evaluate different products or vendors, and buy. They will recommend the product or buy it again if they had a good experience.
Successful marketing campaigns plan activities that fall into each step of the marketing funnel or buyer's journey, centered around one campaign goal. As you think about each step of the journey, prioritize what you know about your customers. You want to reach your customers where they are and be helpful. Do your customers like being at in-person events? Do they prefer to receive text messages over emails? Do they have many stakeholders they need to get on board with purchase decisions?
You likely won't have the resources to execute every idea you come up with, so start by focusing on the parts of the journey you need the most help with. If you have a large database of existing customers, what can you do to get them to recommend you (loyalty phase)? If you're launching into a new market, what can you do to get the word out about your product (awareness phase)?
Have you heard or said something like this before: "any school can use our product" or "we can help parents with any tutoring need their students have." If your product can help a variety of people in many ways, why limit it? As a business, you don't necessarily need to as long as you can operationally meet those customer needs. However, in marketing campaigns, it's best to focus your target audiences.
As a consumer, we connect with companies and brands that we have something in common with or relate to us somehow. If your marketing campaigns target broad audiences, like "any school district with a world language program," your campaign might fail because it's not appealing to the specific people you want to sell to.
You want to create marketing for the people you are selling to, ideally creating buyer personas that show a profile of who you're targeting, such as a superintendent, principal, teacher. Create elements of your marketing campaign specific to each persona because what's going to get the attention of a superintendent who is pulled in many different directions is very different from what's going to get the attention of a teacher who is with students in the classroom every day.
Don't give up too early on your marketing! Just like a sales cycle can take months or even years, marketing needs the same level of persistence. People are inundated with marketing messages all day, and they don't pay attention to most of them. They likely won't be ready to buy at the first moment your message gets in front of them, so you need to be consistent in reaching your personas more than a couple of times.
A marketing campaign needs to run for at least three months, ideally six months to a year, so it doesn't fail. Don't just send a couple of emails and give up in a month. Send monthly emails for six months. Plus, reach your personas in other ways. Publish a story in a trade magazine they might read, speak at a conference they might attend, run ads on Google.
You also need to be consistent in how you are communicating your message. Before creating your marketing campaign, take the time to develop differentiated marketing messages for your personas and promote them across your marketing. Also, develop a consistent brand identity and use the same logo, colors, font, and imagery.
You don't need to say the same words over and over again or use the same images everywhere, but you need to communicate consistently so that you're building a brand and people start to recognize your company.
Lesson #1 Why Your Company Needs Education Marketing Strategies
Lesson #2 Attracting the Right Customers with Buyer Personas and Messaging
Lesson #3 Why Marketing Campaigns Fail
Lesson #4 What is a Marketing Stack?
Lesson #5 How to Structure a Marketing Team for Your Small Business