As marketers, we sometimes get pulled into the black hole of thinking that best practices are the answer. We dive into case studies, we research articles, and we have discussions with peers about how other companies have achieved their success. The problem with relying on building our marketing on case studies is we don’t really learn anything for ourselves. Every business is different and just as importantly every product inside of the same company is different. Each can target a different audience with a different buying cycle.
If a campaign or advertisement works for one product or company, labeling it a “best practice” does not ensure it will work for another. Even more dangerous, the marketing campaign could be led down a path in the wrong direction from the very beginning.
So what do we do about it?
We need the answers to these questions!
When do I send out my message? How long should my email subject line be? What color will grab the attention on this direct mail postcard? At how long into the commercial do I ask them to ‘like’ us on Facebook? What dimensions do I create that banner for?
We should be figuring these answers out for ourselves.
- Have a clear marketing goal. Go back to the very simple reason of what the marketing department is tasked with. Is it driving sales? Leads? Registrations? Clicks? Visits? Understanding what the goal is will affect how it’s measured and therefore the results. It will quickly be apparent that the discovered “best practice” on our desk is for a company with a different variable.
- Build a foundation of testing. Set up a campaign to measure the end goal as an experiment. Continuously benchmark against the progress of the campaign and adjust as necessary. Build testing into the DNA of every campaign. If the campaign can’t be measured then take a good look at the reason it’s being run.
- Look at the results of the experiment. People are busy. We all are. But without the results there is no measure of success. We need to take the time to present them in a reasonably easy to understand way. If our CMO or executive board spends more time on the format than the data, it’s been done wrong.
Marketing can be a fine-tuned and running machine in every company. No matter what the product or company, each has their own needs. Relying on best practices will not only take a marketing team down the wrong path but it will set them up for future failure.
Undoubtedly, we’ll run into a situation (especially with the way technology evolves) where there is no best practice to choose from. Would we rather have a system in place to figure it out ourselves or wait until someone else does, so we can read their “best practice”.