“We have met the enemy and he is us”
– Pogo cartoon character by Walt Kelly

Are you shooting yourself in the foot, as you are reading this post?

Marketing is not just about strategies, tactics, processes and technology. To extract value from any of these tools, you need to first overcome the biggest challenges – the ones between your ears.

Bitter pill? You betcha. I am going to tell you what you need to hear, not what will make you feel warm and fuzzy.

Are You Shooting Yourself in the Foot Too?

This list of TOP 10 Mindset issues is based on analyzing countless cases of successes and failures, as well as polling industry peers in multiple Facebook Groups. It applies equally to clients hiring agencies as well as marketers doing work in-house. Most of the problems are closely related and flow from one another:

1) Commitment to Change

If you read that far, chances are you recognize that mindset is important and some changes are in order. But are you really going to take action? Invest yourself in achieving success or dabble and procrastinate?  The bottom line question is whether you resolve to treat your business seriously, embrace the necessary changes and allocate the sufficient time, effort and resources. No one is going to care more than you!

2) Band-Aids vs. Long-Term Planning

You are committed to success now? Congratulations! Now, are you going to commit to making a plan, best suited to leverage all your strengths and industry best practices? Or are you going to keep looking for “shortcuts”, “quick fixes” or “magic bullets” based on hope rather than logic? Band-Aids don’t cure cancer. Neither do tactics du jour create any sustainable competitive advantage in a marketplace.

3) Walk in the Customer’s Shoes

To create a viable long-term strategy you must understand your market intimately. Not just from research reports. Not just by looking at the competitor’s ads. Instead, look at your company through the customers’ eyes. What is the sequence of steps they go through as they interact with you? What goes through their head as they take those steps? What are the bottlenecks in the current Customer Journey? How should it be changed? New landing pages? New marketing channels? Different offers? Everything must be open to change.

4) Spend Money to Make Money

OK, now you have done the homework. Now you have some credible ideas and strategies. But they will remain useless if you are unwilling to put your money where your mouth is. You need to budget for ad spend and (unless you have the right skill sets) for either agency services or staff training. You will get what you pay for on all counts. It takes certain ad budget to test strategies and find winners. It takes certain skills to know what to test and why. You won’t get the best if you obsess about getting something “free or cut-rate” or bicker about minor terms.

5) Setting the Right Goals

Ready to put your plans into action? Make sure you are crystal clear about the goals and priorities! If you run after two hares, you will catch neither! What is the MAIN METRIC you want to optimize for? Is it the top line revenue? Net profit? Cost of acquisition? Lifetime value? Market share? Acquisition or repeat business? Audience growth? Whichever metric you choose, it will require adjustments in strategies and tactics. This question is not about marketing but about where you see your business in 1, 3, 5 or 10 years.

6) Interpreting and Using the Data

Who needs math if marketing is all about creativity! Right? Wrong! If you actually care about achieving your goals, you need to understand the key performance indicators (KPIs) that add up to your desired results. The best way to learn these numbers by heart is to develop “what if” financial models that let you see different outcomes, depending on your KPI ranges and scenarios. Are you ready to commit to a data-driven marketing culture? This means all opinions must go out of the window, once the test results come in!

7) Experimentation and Iteration

What should we call a campaign being successful on the first try? That’s right, a miracle! Regretfully, quite a few people expect miracles and get frustrated when manna from heaven doesn’t come. Everyone else should have a well-thought out testing strategy. This means identifying what we know (known knowns). Figuring what we don’t know (known unknowns) to achieve desired goals. And finally developing a sequence of tests that will clear the fog and deliver the results by iteration. Modern marketing is a laboratory of human behavior.

8) Shiny Object Syndrome

Once you have a sound testing plan, do not let get yourself distracted by irrelevant things (news, claims, case studies, tactics du jour). Strategies that pay off long term rarely provide instant gratification on Day 1. If you disrupt plans and tests, you will invalidate the data and insight they are expected to bring. In many cases, this destroys the value of your marketing investment and creates needless stories about how “it didn’t work“. If you are working with an agency, plan and budget for 3 months minimum to let the initial tests play out.

9) Performance Incentives

People focus on things they are paid for, whether this is your internal staff or outside agencies. If an agency is paid by % of ad spend, they will be motivated to convince you to waste your money (as much as they can get away with). If it is by hour, it will be about running up more hours. If they get a flat retainer, the focus is on simple standardized deliverables. Instead, why not offer a % of improvement towards your goal? Motivated by tangible upside, the right agency (or staffers) will move mountains for you!

10) Micromanaging the Experts

Do you grab the scalpel from a surgeon operating on your heart to show “how it should be done“? Maybe you should not be doing the same to your marketing experts! Agency community is full of stories about clients insisting on losing approaches to everything from creative to targeting to offers to anything else, and then refusing to take responsibility after failing miserably. If you believe you have everything to “do-it-yourself“, go for it! But don’t treat professionals as menial workers standing by to accept ill-informed demands.

BONUS: Processes, Documentation and Tasking

This one extra point brings together all the TOP 10. Modern performance marketing is getting more complicated by the day. Implementing the ever-evolving best practices correctly requires enormous attention to detail, that makes a difference between success and failure.

All the TOP 10 mindset guidelines need to be put in practice continuously and consistently. And that requires the right support systems, that combine the process, the technology and the training.

At TargetChoice we have developed such system (Blueprint Lab), currently in use internally and by the clients. We will be releasing a formal training & coaching offer around this system, now available as BETA upon request.

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Dmitriy Kruglyak

President at TargetChoice LLC
Data Geek. Process Fanatic. Growth Hacker

Making Advertising Profitable for Businesses

Building Marketing Tech since 1998
Dmitriy Kruglyak
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