The 7 common mistakes marketing leaders are still making

Experts discuss the fatal flaws hindering modern marketing leadership and how you can simplify workflow processes and improve effiencies

Marketers faced with the challenge of leveraging new technology and drawing on data insights to engage with customers run the risk of overcomplicating their practices in order to remain competitive.

In this article, experts discuss what it takes to operate as a modern digital marketer and truly leverage all elements of the marketing mix effectively by tackling the common mistakes CMOs still make, and the inefficiencies they generate.

1. Falling into the big efficiency trap: Perfection

With all the data and technology available to marketers today, Squiz Group CEO, John-Paul Syriatowicz, said one of the biggest efficiency traps marketers commonly fall into is aiming too hard for perfection.

“Marketing strategies are being executed with more precision and strategic insight than ever before,” he told CMO. “This brings added pressure to continue bettering yourself with every project. Improving your results and outcomes, though, doesn’t necessarily have to involve getting every detail perfect. It is important to assess whether getting it 100 per cent right is the most effective use of your time in reaching your desired outcomes.”

Another fatal mistake Syriatowicz raised is involving too many stakeholders, and failing to keep the marketing team empowered to continually improve and evolve.

“It’s important that the c-suite puts faith in the marketing team to make decisions and approvals without too much executive oversight,” he said. “This empowers the team to have the flexibility and agility to continuously improve.”

When it comes to streamlining processes as a marketer, Syriatowicz suggested starting with the all-important question: Why.

“Everyone in the team needs to understand what they are trying to achieve before diving head-first into a project,” he explained. “Clearly establishing the overall purpose, goals, and benchmarks for the project will help to streamline the processes involved from start to finish.”

2.Lacking data measurement

There is also no excuse for not having a good system for monitoring and measuring your data. Syriatowicz stressed marketers need to be proactive around testing, measuring and adapting.

“A key mistake that marketers have less and less excuses for is not having great analytics,” he added. “Nothing is more important than knowing what works and what doesn’t. When you have the right data, you can launch campaigns quickly, and then tweak and optimise as needed.”

3. Not leveraging the full suite of marketing channels

Marketers should try to utilise all elements that make up the marketing mix, instead of just focusing on a few to streamline their workflows and achieve efficient results, Dropbox APAC head of marketing, Deeps de Silva, told CMO.

“A common mistake is focusing entirely on digital as the key medium to generate engagement with customers,” he said. “True digital marketers keep their options open and complement their activities with traditional marketing methods. Marketers won’t make these types of mistakes by understanding what mediums their customers consume.”

With marketers taking an increasingly strategic role within the organisation, de Silva said CMOs are becoming the heart of the growth engine for any organisation. This means they are doing a lot of cross-functional work across business units as they become key players in strategic initiatives.

“Self-service reporting on big data can be a marketer's best friend to drive data-driven decisions for strategic planning,” he said. “Tools to automate marketing tasks and derive insights are also becoming key elements of any true next-generation marketer.”

De Silva recommended setting up a marketing email nurture program, where multiple emails can be sent out on a specific date or action.

“This can really help marketers drive deeper levels of engagement with their audience. Often this can lead to higher conversion rates,” he said.

In order to keep priorities in perspective and build a sustainable, efficient marketing mix, de Silva also stressed keeping the focus on the customer.

“Taking an approach that helps you to better understand customer pain points, and priorities, is a great start to the strategic planning process for any marketer,” he explained. “The right tools will allow you to better execute that strategy, with some tools making more sense than others.”

4.Relying only on technology

While there is a vast expanse of tech mediums to leverage in the marketing mix, that doesn’t mean marketers should rely only on technology in doing all their processes, CEO of Mpire Media, Luke Taylor, said.

“Marketing still has a human relationship component and making sure that relationship is strong is key to creating the right strategy,” he said. “Given all the mediums that are available, products and consumer trends, it’s hard not to want to do it all. But decisions shouldn’t be made using data alone. You need to have a human element as well to analyse the data.”

According to Taylor, a related mistake marketers make is analysing data analytics and making swift decisions to follow trends, without taking the time to plan strategically.

“They put some analytics on their website, look at some data and seeing some trends, then they’re suddenly off on this journey that is going to chase all these big numbers,” he said. “Or they might be looking at a segmentation of some email campaigns they’ve had, but don’t really go into it with any plan.

“So they’re just following what the data is presuming to show, rather than actually qualifying their hypothesis, which is really the key here. It all depends on the target market and the brand. Just have a plan. Don’t forget that core part of the marketing mix.”

5. Having too many agencies

A challenge big brands face is having multiple agencies to manage, all across different fields and offering varied expertise, according to managing director of Undertow Media, Sarah La Roche. Often, briefing and managing each individually can be a time intensive and expensive exercise.

“Selecting the right partners is integral to ensuring success - and helps make marketer’s life much easier,” she said. “Bringing on board exceptional specialists that are leaders in their field gives you access to the best minds in the business.”

La Roche said savvy marketers brief agencies collaboratively and empower their team to seek outside expertise and therefore see the best results.

“Pitching agencies against each other for the ‘best result’ often results in confusion, time inefficiencies and missing the mark entirely,” she said. “Meanwhile, certain marketers choose to manage the relationships differently. They try to pitch out agencies against each other. I don’t believe that approach works and it cuts in on people’s time.”

Once you have selected an expert, La Roche said it is important to trust them and learn to let go.

“Micro-management only takes up more time they could be otherwise spending on generating results,” she said. “Resist the temptation to check in every moment – brief and empower them with information and guide them to achieve the best result for the brand.”

6. Putting email workflow above creativity

Bastion Group COO, Michelle Cox, frequently meets CMOs that are overwhelmed with not only their daily workload but also the diversity of knowledge needed to do their jobs.

“Previously, above-the-line capabilities meant marketers could play to their strengths,” she explained. “These days, digital, social, content creation, branding and sponsorship all make up the wider marketing mix, meaning CMOs are busier than ever.”

Managing the daily inbox in particular, consumes high-performing marketers and leads them into inaction and inefficiency, Cox said. This can have a devastating impact on the creative process.

“Checking email all the time makes you lose focus and effectiveness, instead becoming reactive to the day’s activities,” she said. “You need to have a clear head to allow for creativity – and checking emails every 10 minutes does exactly the opposite.”

Cox suggested marketers turn off emails for dedicated hours each day to enable to better set priorities and ‘work’ on creating ideas or concepts with a clear, uninterrupted mind.

“Prioritisation is the key,” she said. “If everything is urgent, nothing will get done. Be clear in your mind about what is urgent and important – and action this above all else. By ordering your inbox, you’ll be on top of what you need to achieve every day and prioritise clearly.

“But try not to get dragged into other people’s priorities – set your own pace and task list. When you are interrupted, be open to receiving the information, but remain firm on what is urgent, what is important, and what can be delegated or done later.”

7. Ignoring professional weaknesses

The modern marketer is expected to know everything and react quickly. But according to Cox, it’s impossible for CMOs to be a ‘Jack or Jill’ of all trades. Instead, she suggested leveraging a team of dedicated and talented experts to enable tasks are achieved results faster.

“If you are determined to complete tasks that either don’t come naturally to you, or you don’t enjoy, chances are you will procrastinate, waste time and not perform well,” she said. “We are good at what we enjoy and we enjoy what we are good at. Be clear about what you’re responsible for and where others can add more value. Understand where your strengths lie and do not be afraid to delegate tasks others can do with ease.

“Conquer and divide big projects according to individuals strengths - don't feel like you have to do everything yourself. Giving away elements of a project doesn’t make you lose control. Rather, done correctly, it is very empowering.”

The key to effective delegation for a CMO, Cox said, is to work with a team of specialists who are amazing at what they do as it’s a smarter return on investment in allocated time.

“Always push yourself to think of different ways to do the same job,” she added. “Is there a better, faster method? Could someone else bring an idea to life for you? By being open and transparent as to what needs to be done, by when and communicating your expectations clearly, CMOs can promotes more collaboration within marketing teams and get a variety of minds and views on the project.”

Michelle Cox’s top pics for apps to help marketers streamline workflow processes:
  • Slack for internal communication
  • Base CRM to manage your clients, meetings and business better
  • Online time sheets like TimePro & Toggl for visibility on what you and your staff are doing and how much time they really spend on clients.
  • Project tools such as Smartsheet and Mavenlink create charts to help with various project elements; team priorities, timelines and due dates.

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