Why Companies Fail at Marketing

Marketing is not easy. If you are under the impression that it is, time to drop all pre-conceived notions and prepare yourself for the truth. The reality of it is that many companies are highly ineffective at marketing themselves.

You may be working for a company like this right now and not even realize it. Here are a few signs to look out for and a few reasons why companies fail at marketing.

The Bubble Effect

The marketing team is the only group within the company that does anything marketing related. If you’ve got that mindset, time to change it or embrace mediocrity. Marketing is something that should be all-inclusive. Marketing should reach far beyond the marketing department, and cross-departmental teams should be created to ensure that the message you’re sending to your target audience embodies the full scope of your team, not just your marketing department.

I Just Don’t Get It

Even if you’ve got buy-in and collaboration from the entire company, if those at the top (the C-level folks) just don’t get it, you’re doomed to fail. Unfortunately, this happens far more frequently than it should. In these cases, marketing is constantly questioned and important performance measures like brand awareness, relationship building and thought leadership are overlooked. Marketing is often looked at as simply an extension of sales, which it totally is not. If this is starting to sound familiar, do yourself a favor and start sending out your resume today before the powers-that-be drive you over the edge.

Quantity Over Quality

While quantity trumps quality in areas like dollars in your bank account and candy in your bag on Halloween, the concept doesn’t always translate to marketing. Your audience doesn’t want to be bombarded by heaps of poor quality promotional junk that’s of little or no value to them. This misguided tactic might promote brand awareness, but not in a good way. If you’re looking to irritate the folks that buy your product or service, then great, keep piling on the crap. But if you want to actually make a connection, find out what they really need and create marketing materials that are more helpful than promotional. Spend time focusing on the quality, not the quantity.

You Think It’s About You

If you don’t understand this core component of marketing, you should consider changing careers. Companies that spend all their time creating marketing materials that brag about how great they are, offer impressive specs about their product or service and ignore the wants and needs of the end-user are just plain ridiculous. Think of the customer connection like going on a first date.

If you sit across the table from your date and blab on about how awesome you are, it’s not likely you’ll see a second date. The same goes for customers. Treat them like you’d want to be treated by a friend or by someone with whom you were out on a date (to an extent, of course, let’s keep it PG). Add value to their lives with your marketing and ask them what they want to see. If you do this, they’ll come back for more. If you brag and boast about how cool you are, you’ll get the “it’s not you it’s me” speech as you watch your customers run the other way.


If just one of these things is in place at a company, it can spell out certain failure. Usually, however, when one of these is in place it’s accompanied by at least one other, which can lead to a complete mess. If you are in a marketing position within your company, look around and take notes. Make sure none of these things is happening. If you notice that any one of these is in place, you need to stand up immediately and put a stop to it, or just move to a company that’s doing it right. I don’t want to tell you what to do, but sometimes that’s the easiest way. These problems tend to be so deeply dug that it’s very difficult to claw your way out.

Have you ever been in a situation like this? I truly hope that you have not, but if you’ve suffered through it, we’d love to read about it in the comments below.

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Anthony Gaenzle
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