Top 3 Marketing Director Pitfalls (And How To Avoid Them)

Avoid these three pitfalls and you will have a successful career in marketing.

Here at SLAM!, we have the privilege of working with many different kinds of Marketing Directors. From rookies to seasoned veterans and everything in between, we work with them to execute on their vision.

You would be amazed at what makes a great Marketing Director and what makes a bad one. The bad ones are those who make these mistakes in judgement (and do so over and over again).

If you’re a Marketing Director looking to make your mark, smash your goals or advance in your career, you need to heed these three Marketing Director pitfalls.

Assuming You Know Your Customer

Most Marketing Directors do not really know their customers. They think they do, but they don’t. 

Most just know their customers or potential customers on the surface. A surface-level understanding of your customer will not suffice in today’s digital world. Truly knowing your customer goes beyond empathizing with pain points and effectively communicating your brand’s value proposition.

If you want to nail the Holy Grail of Marketing you have to know how to connect the right message to the right person at the right time and in the right place.

A surface-level understanding of your customer might give you the right message for your right person (i.e. customer), but that’s it.

To really know your customers, you have to understand how to transform your value proposition to fit where your potential customers are in their buyer’s journey. Maybe they don’t know they have a problem you can solve or maybe they are aware of their problem but not aware of how to solve it.

The best Marketing Directors know how to attract their potential customers and pull them into their marketing funnels at each stage of awareness.

The icing on the cake is understanding where all of these potential customers (in every stage) are right now. Rather than just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, you should already know where to find your customers. If you don’t, then you don’t really know your customers.

For some Marketing Directors, it’s like trying to hit the bullseye on a dart board blind-folded. Of course if you had an unlimited supply of darts, you would eventually hit the bullseye. But darts are one thing and advertising budgets are another.

What You Should Do?

Do your homework. Get to know your existing customers. Understand their pain points, what motivates them, and how they came to find you. Then test your assumptions in the marketplace. Don’t allow buyer personas to distract you from the fact that these are real people (not made up ones), and that your job is to find them, connect with them and sell them on your vision.

The Shiny Object

You’ve heard the phrase, “the grass is not greener.” It’s true. The shiny object is not better than what you are currently doing.

Whether it’s a new ad channel, tactic, tool or app, you have to ignore it. It’s not ready for prime time and it’s not deserving of your time.

When you divert your attention to chase the shiny object (imagine a kitten chasing a laser pointer), you are taking resources (time, money, energy) away from what is already working for you.

You don’t have to be the first to try it. Give it time to work. Let it get through beta testing first. If it is still around in 6 to 12 months, then go ahead and try it (but only if you specifically need what it has to offer).

A lot of times the shiny object comes by way of marketing technology or MarTech. You already have a full stack of tools that are working well for you, but you just can’t resist reading every new app email, signing up and testing them out. The problem is it’s a waste of time and you should know better.

On the flip side, beware of sunk cost fallacy. If something is not working, then kill it. Don’t pump more money into it thinking that is the solution. Cut your losses and move on.

What You Should Do?

Seek consistency. Once you’ve selected a tool or program, give it a chance to work for you. Don’t assume the grass is greener. It’s usually not.

Copying Your Competition

“The top player in our market just started doing this, so we need to too.”

We’ve heard this a time or two or three or four. And we get it. You don’t want to be left behind.

The issue you face when copying your competitors is that you don’t know that what they’re doing is actually working for them. Maybe their Marketing Director is clueless or a sucker for a good sales pitch.

Good salespeople know to go after the top player in a market because if they can get them, then the rest will follow.

In reality, this is just another shiny object that you should avoid.

You probably haven’t yet exhausted your available market in the channels that are working for you. Rather than diverting funds to chase a competitor, you would be better off investing more in areas that have proven successful.

What You Should Do?

Differentiate. The best marketers know how to differentiate their brands from the competition. If you’re doing everything everyone else is doing, then you’re just a copy of a copy. That’s a recipe for disaster.

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Created and produced by SLAM! Agency, the show exists to help marketing professionals, directors, and executives grow their brands and reach their customers in a more effective way. The #WeAreSlam Show is released weekly and featured on all popular podcast and video networks.

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