It is planning season - or it should be. As the summer wanes and back-to-school ads start to turn your head to fall, you can see the coming year looming just over the horizon of holiday glitter. You are starting to think about 2014. A lot of marketers seem intent on looking for ways to waste their budgets, so as a public service we put together some time-tested ways to reliably ensure that you are wasting your time and money, including:
Plan blindly and quickly. Don't consult your site stats or your previous campaign or performance history. What could prior results possibly tell you about the current state? Be sure to condense the planning schedule so that you can't possibly execute anything effectively.
Work the wrong metrics. Or no metrics at all if you never agreed on goals or placed and tested the technology to track your success. Consider using multiple, conflicting analytics platforms to measure performance or rely heavily on an individual source of data without scrutinizing the data source or confirming it - your choice. While you are at it, you should collect a bunch of data that you will never use or can't use.
Plan in organizational silos. Don't consult the people who deal directly with your customers because if they are not in your department then they don't know anything. Worse yet, they might have information or opinions! If you have multiple teams with access or impact in a given channel let them all play as they see fit. No need to coordinate.
Set it and forget it. Make a plan at the beginning of the year and have confidence that the world will stop spinning, technology advances will stand still, and that competitors and customers are in a permanent stasis. Don't optimize your landing pages, test anything new, monitor customer response, rotate creative, or even read or respond to results - it's a waste of time. At least we think it is, but without data, who really knows?
Copy your competitors. Whatever they did last year must have worked great and would work really great for your customers, business model, scale, territories, and budgets. Trying to outspend your competitors as a matter of pride and principle is always a good idea.
Be trendy. Come on - digital marketing is a meme-filled, viral hotbed of new, new, new. Regardless of your audience, history, budget, or goals, pick the hottest trend or channel and throw a ton of money at it.
Integration is overrated. Just because your customers are exposed to massive amounts of expensive media across channels doesn't mean you should try to leverage that exposure to more interactive and actionable behaviors and modes.
Focus solely on conversions. The rest of the funnel or future conversions are of no consequence. That longer term thinking makes our heads hurt and no one cares about the leads that may turn into conversions down the line when you have already been promoted or changed jobs. Likewise, building remarketing channels or integrating into CRM systems should not be your priority. Let someone else worry about that. (FYI - it's probably the same poor soul who insists on market or customer research. Let her have at it. You can ignore it later.)
Pretend digital is the same as other channels. We heartily endorse using your print ad as an email. While you are at it you should repurpose it to a landing page and maybe an expandable banner ad as well. Just one version - remember, we're not wasting time to test anything.
Ignore lead or customer quality. The quality of customers is theoretical anyway. So what if some customers spend more, talk more, come back more, and have more influence on their friends? If we ignore this we can give our business to the nice vendor who brings those great muffins and generally shortcut our way to those big numbers we are always chasing.
So you see, planning to waste your 2014 digital budget is really not so hard. It takes just a bit of attention to the fundamentals and a commitment to following through on a couple of key principles. If you keep our head down you could have it buried in the sand in no time at all.
Robin is the CEO and cofounder of NetPlus Marketing Inc., a top 50 interactive agency established in 1996 to focus exclusively on online marketing and advertising best practices. Robin brings innovative strategy and a depth and breadth of marketing experience to the agency's practice and management. As one of the industry's pioneers, she is a driving force behind NetPlus Marketing's ongoing success with a diverse and discerning client base that considers online results critical to their business success.
Robin is a frequent speaker at national industry events, including ClickZ, internet.com, OMMA, Ad:Tech, SES, Online Marketing Summit, and Thunder Lizard conferences and is a sought-after resource for industry and business publications for her insight and advice on such topics as digital strategy, social media marketing, and behavioral targeting.