Wish Life Had a Delete Key? By Pam Selker Rak

Delete KeyNope, I don’t. I’m glad life doesn’t have a delete key. Even though it would be so nice to just “delete away” mistakes or regrets from the past, we wouldn’t be the people we are today without having learned through all of those mistakes and mishaps.

Think about it. Most success stories, mine included, started with some sort of failure, mistake or negative experience. For me, it was being not-so-constructively criticized by the president of my former employer because I didn’t come prepared to talk results when I asked for a hefty marketing budget.

That criticism, though painful to take at the time, spawned the idea for CommuniTech…delivering data-based, results-driven marketing. Today, 17 years later, we’re still going strong and most agencies still can’t do what we do.

Looking back, I’d take that criticism all over again. Why? Because mistakes push us to change, evolve and think creatively.

Companies should think about their marketing programs in much the same way. Of course, the goal is to never fail at marketing; however, the reality is that not every campaign is going to be a winner. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The important thing is tracking everything you do so you know what works, what doesn’t work and collecting the analytics to show you where to direct future budgets.

Without this type of trial-and-error mentality, you’ll never reach your highest marketing potential.

To me, the epic marketing fail is, not knowing what’s working and what’s not working to begin with. Big deal if you have a campaign or two that don’t pull as much as you had hoped! At least you know and you can learn from it and shift future direction.

Most companies can’t even do that because they’re not measuring each and every marketing initiative.  Their strategy is to roll on ‘gut feel,’ and then blame the marketing team when everything keeps bombing and sales keeps missing its numbers. Wrong approach.

Which scenario would you rather find yourself in?

  1. “Our campaign failed and we have no idea why. But we’ll try something else and hope it works this time.”
  2. “Our campaign failed but here are five things we learned about why it failed and here are three new ideas we’re implementing immediately in order to achieve our goal of a 10% response rate.”

Of course, #2 is the preferred scenario. So how do you get there? What’s the winning approach? Here are six steps that will put you on the road to marketing success:

  1. Do your research. Know your targets and segment them. Get them into a database and work that database on a daily basis (and be sure it’s interfaced with your campaigns!).
  2. Set goals with your sales team. They must be part of the marketing process and marketing must be part of the sales process. Both sides need buy-in.
  3. Devise your marketing strategy around sales and business goals. Marketing’s role is not to close sales. It’s to generate the highest-qualified leads to help make sales more successful. Make sure everyone understands their role in the process and then set concrete, realistic goals.
  4. Implement campaigns that are measured and tied to revenues. You’ll never be able to prove marketing’s worth without doing this. Your database must be more than just a warehouse for names, addresses and emails. It must be connected to your campaigns so you can measure each program’s success and report on them (see next step).
  5. Report, report, report on the results – the good, the bad and the ugly. Communicate openly and transparently. Show your colleagues and peers how you plan to proactively make the good campaigns better and turn the bad campaigns into good campaigns.
  6. Rinse and Repeat. In other words, keep evolving your marketing, but never stop it. If you stop it, you’ll lose momentum that’s very difficult and expensive to gain back (not to mention the revenues you’ll lose, including lost sales opportunities).

So forget about life’s delete key. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, in life or in marketing. If you’re afraid to fail, then that means you’re also afraid to change, evolve and improve. Like life, marketing is a journey, not an event. Travel it wisely – and consistently – and you’ll reach your ultimate goals and potential!