Three common marketing pitfalls we should avoid

September 19, 2017
Author: Henry Artime

B2B marketers are facing increased pressure from their C-Suite to deliver more results than ever before. A recent WSJ article referenced a study of the top 100 ad spenders and discovered that the average CMO lasts a mere 42 months on the job, which is significantly shorter than the average CEO or CFO. However, I’m more interested in what’s happening with small and medium sized companies and the pressure they’re under to deliver more results.

I recently had several conversations with CEOs and consultants about marketing, and they shared with me how difficult it is for them and their peers to justify as well as understand the value of marketing within their organizations. The common thread among them is that marketing is necessary and valuable to their business, but they don’t always know how to account for its value or impact on sales.

Therefore, it’s simple enough to say that effective marketing appears to be difficult, and measuring its results elusive.

On the other hand, I have found that many marketing professionals spend their company’s marketing dollars without first having an understanding of the budget’s business purpose. Perhaps, that’s why many marketing conversations I’ve had with new and potential clients are based on their budgets and creative projects, not business objectives or goals. As marketing professionals on both sides of the conference room table, we must endeavor to a more strategic and measurable approach to our discipline.

My experience teaches me that when marketing is properly planned and executed, it best translates value to the customer, contributes to the effectiveness of a company’s sales efforts, and plays a vital role in the success of an organization. For starters, here are three common mistakes or pitfalls to avoid the next time you enter into a marketing conversation.

#1 Not defining goals and objectives.

Whether you’re discussing the next three years, twelve months, or a specific campaign, “What is our objective?” must always be the first question. Each objective provides a platform for intelligent conversations, as well as clarity about, “Who’s the target?” “What’s the best media?” “What is an appropriate spend?” “What can we track as leading indicators to know if we’re heading in the right direction?” and more.

Objectives must drive marketing communications and creative, not vice-versa.

#2 Settling for generic messaging.

“Got milk?”

How often have you seen a derivative of that famous ad campaign in a B2B advertisement or on a website? I bet that Goodby, Silverstein & Partners never dreamt that what they created for the California Milk Processor Board in 1993 would get mimicked countless times for decades — in just about every industry. It’s a running joke in my agency to say, “How about, Got _____?” when we aren’t coming up with anything really brilliant.

Good writing takes time; there’s a process. Resist the temptation to “be clever.” Too often, we get enamored with kitschy words and phrases that sound “cute,” but fail to communicate real value to a B2B prospect or customer. Also, make every effort to understand your competitors’ communications in order to best develop your unique and relevant story to your target audience.

A well-positioned brand is easy to identify in its category and easy to distinguish from its competitors.

#3 Fragmenting your efforts across multiple departments or initiatives.

I have worked with several companies where their VP of Marketing fails to speak on a regular basis with the VP of Sales. Another common experience is when a Marketing Director or Manager doesn’t see the need for their agency partner to gather knowledge and input from other departments within the organization. In many cases, they just want their agency to, “Do what I asked.” A consequence of these dysfunctions is that marketing materials can tell one story and sales people can tell an entirely different story during sales calls and presentations. Unfortunately, often even their core value statements do not resemble each other.

It’s not about which one is right, it’s that neither one is maximizing their organization’s intellectual capacity. The sales team’s efforts may lack good writing and story-telling, and the marketing team’s efforts may lack good content and market knowledge.

Collaboration and a unified strategy play a critical role in developing the most effective solutions.



Marketing is hard enough when our aim is to do it well. That’s why we shouldn’t take shortcuts. Instead, we should make sure that every year, quarter, launch, initiative, or campaign, first has an identified objective. And, we must do the hard work of clarifying our voice in the market; taking the time to discover our brands’ unique story and value. Third, in order to best maximize our marketing efforts, we must remember to collaborate and unify our media options and corporate resources.

Avoiding these three pitfalls will dramatically improve your company’s value translation and marketing effectiveness, and it will also build your personal value within your organization.

For downloadable worksheets that will help you avoid these pitfalls, visit