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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistWed, Dec 9, 2015 7 min read

Why Marketing Might Not Be The Reason You Had A Subpar Year

Marketing_Didnt_Ruin_Your_Year.jpgThere’s a reason the CMO role has the highest turnover of any role in the C-suite. When a business doesn’t realize its goals someone has to be responsible, and quite often it’s the marketing team that takes the hit.

The IDC, a leading research center, published an article at the end of last year that predicts "one in four CMOs will be replaced every year through 2018." That’s an extremely high rate, and I just can’t subscribe to the fact that 25% of CMOs deserve to be fired.

Having worked with businesses of all shapes and sizes for the past 13 years, one truth is obvious to me — when businesses fail to hit their revenue goals it's rarely because of marketing.

Here are some factors that might have impacted your results this year.

Your Competitors Have Passed You By

It’s a hard truth to realize, but I’ve seen a number of businesses that have been passed by. Think Blockbuster. We have a client now that believes the products and services they’ve been providing for the past 25 years are still desirable when compared to the online, app and delivery services starting to make an impact today.

Understanding your competition is critical. Today you can be innovated right out of business in 12 months if you’re not constantly innovating your own business. When was the last time you added something innovative to your service offering? If the entire year went by and you did nothing to make your products or services better than your competition, this might be impacting your results this year.

Look at substitute offerings. Competition comes in all shapes and sizes. Blockbuster never saw Netflix coming until it was too late. Don’t make the same mistake.

Your Business Looks, Sounds And Acts Like Your Competition

Innovation can be complicated, but differentiation is very doable. If your business looks like all of your competitors, sounds like all of the competitors and delivers like all of the competitors, why would anyone ever hire your company over your competitors?

Yes, it’s marketing’s job to help differentiate your company, but marketing needs the basic building blocks to do so. Marketing can come up with what to say, but if you’re not delivering the way marketing says you should, then you’ll deliver a disappointing experience for your clients.

Your Business Strategy Has A Flaw

Not every business is destined for greatness. Your product might not be as critical as you think. Your target market might not be in as much pain as you think. Your prospects might not be ready for what your company does. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come. Your geography might be too small to deliver the results you expected, you might have overestimated the size of the market or you might have drawn incorrect conclusions from the data you used to evaluate that opportunity.

Human beings are flawed. We make mistakes. The smartest people are the ones who ask for advice from experts and then take that advice, turning it into action and adjusting their company’s direction accordingly.

Your Sales Team Can’t Close Leads

As an inbound agency this is one that we hear often. Despite doubling or even tripling the leads coming in, the company is not able to grow revenue. The major issue here is that to deflect its own inability to close business the company tries to classify the leads as “bad” leads. Just to be clear, if done properly, there are no bad leads — just leads that are unqualified or leads that are not ready to buy today.

These leads still need to be treated properly. Each type of lead needs to be managed differently, but every lead needs to be nurtured appropriately. Simply dismissing leads as bad leads, not following up with leads because of arbitrary judgments like generic email addresses and not knowing how to reply or follow up with inbound leads is completely unacceptable.

People view marketing as the answer to all their issues. Just do more ads, make more calls, go to more shows, build a better website, send more promotional emails and the company will be fine. This is a mistake. Marketing (whether internal or external) is only part of a bigger team. Marketing can’t take a mediocre product or service and turn it into Apple. Marketing can’t take an under-allocated budget and turn it into more leads than you know what to do with. Marketing can’t help you get to unrealistic revenue goals and it can’t fix poor decision-making.

But there is so much marketing can do. If you let them, your marketing team can make your business remarkable, and create an experience for your prospects and your clients that gets people talking about your business. Marketing can also build a Marketing Machine for your company that produces a predictable and repeatable flow of leads into your company.

These very doable deliverables take time and they take work from other areas of the company. They take looking at marketing as a strategic partner and as a long-term investment in the future. The impacts we’re talking about here won’t happen overnight. They take years of hard work and commitment, but I’ve always been told that the best things in life are worth waiting for. Here’s hoping that in 2016 you’ll look at your marketing team as strategic partners and invest in them accordingly.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.