Many companies in the mortgage industry are considering their marketing strategies for the coming year or may even have their strategies in place. But there's a problem; many will fail to achieve their desired outcomes.
For a marketing strategy to be truly successful, there has to be a high level of determination among the executive staff that becomes contagious internally. Money needs to be made available. Everyone has to believe in it and believe they can succeed.
Here are seven common reasons for the lack of success of many marketing strategies:
1. The strategy does not exist in print, just in a board room discussion. Sure, this is an obvious problem, but many times strategy discussions take place in the board room and other fires get in the way of actually developing it.
These fires could include a new product launch that should have happened a month ago, hiring and training new people and meeting other immediate demands on your time. Then the strategy doesn't get developed until the end of the first quarter or worse, and you find you don't have the bandwidth to execute on all of the elements.
2. Goals are poorly defined. Before the strategy gets written, there needs to be agreement on solid goals. Poorly defined goals are goals that are so vague that you can't possibly quantify them in a reasonable fashion. An example of a poorly defined goal could be "I want to drive more website traffic" without defining exactly how much more in terms of a number or percentage, what kind of traffic and what you want them to do when they come to your site.
Well-defined goals bring results. To be clear, a result isn't a 50% increase in website traffic, inbound calls or meetings. A result is new business.
Here are some tips for goal-setting:
- Make your goals measurable. If your goal is to increase your sales by 20%, that's great! This is easy to measure. Other goals, like increasing awareness of your company, are a bit harder to measure. But it can still be done. For example, you might start with a benchmark study to determine current awareness levels and perception of your brand so that you can go back to the same audience to see how far you've moved the needle over the course of the plan year.
- Make sure your goals attainable. Consider your marketing budget and how much can be reasonably accomplished for that budget in the competitive environment. If your competitors are clearly outspending you based on your competitive research and it appears that will continue, consider this as you set your market share/sales goals. If you set your goals unrealistically high, this only serves to demoralize your team when they are not achieved.
- Establish a calendar of what will happen, when and why. Getting things done that drive you toward your stated goal(s) is essential. Without a calendar, you just have a list of tasks you hope to implement that could easily get pushed back.
3. There is no buy-in. Something often forgotten is that everybody in your company is essentially executing the strategy. Everyone should be aware of your latest news release, direct mail program, new account executives, social media campaigns and on and on. Once there is buy-in from key execs, everyone must play "follow the leader" and do their part.
There are a variety of ways to achieve "buy-in." Some could include:
- A company retreat. During this retreat you should share your vision and goals for the company, share where you're going and how you plan to get there. Think of creative ways to make this retreat a fun team-building experience!
- Let everyone know the reasoning behind the strategy so they have a clear understanding of where you were and what you plan to achieve.
- Share what you discovered through the competitive review you conducted as you developed the strategy. This will help them understand why it's great to be on your team, pushing ahead to get to the next level.
- Build enthusiasm by letting everyone know how they play a role in the success of the strategy.
4. No clear responsibilities or accountability. Strategies die because of lack of accountability and specific assignment of responsibilities. Therefore, make sure that everyone understands timelines and the roles they play in bringing the strategy to fruition as a team.
Don't forget about those that may only have indirect involvement; they also need to clearly understand their roles. For example, who gets the calls or emails resulting from a direct marketing effort? Is there any internal training necessary to ensure a smooth process when sales of a new product or service result from a campaign? Who will do the training?
5. Wrong people working the strategy. Do people assigned to work on the strategy have the skills to execute their part? In the effort to get everyone involved, be sure to accurately identify their skill sets so they can experience success in fulfilling their roles.
For example, if one part of the strategy is producing videos that can be posted on your YouTube channel, this could be a tall order if the person assigned to this task doesn't have any background in scripting or production at the level you desire. So, this may be something you have to outsource or hire for because there are so many facets associated with not only production, but also driving viewership by the right target audience.
6. Lack of time or lack of money. Nothing is more frustrating than writing a marketing strategy and then finding out that there's no budget to cover it and/or everybody is too busy to execute.
There's no shortage of companies out there that have zero-based budgeting when it comes to marketing. With this, every line item is debated and scrutinized before being approved, corners are cut and then goals are compromised. Even if the budget is small, it's good to know up front so you can set reasonable goals and design a strategy that fits the budget.
If you've been in the mortgage industry for any length of time, certainly you're well aware of this. Accordingly, make sure that your strategy is flexible and that you are flexible and ready to adapt as changes occur.
Any one of these items can impede the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. Simply being aware of these common obstacles should help you deal with them in advance and ensure your success. Make it a great year!