Things are pretty exciting in marketing tech these days. With all of the great solutions out there, it's easy to get swept up in the moment and forget some best practices. You invest a lot of time, effort and budget into your marketing stack and the potential benefits are huge. But your shiny new marketing automation platform, video hosting tool or content engagement platform is only as good as the planning and process that goes into it.
This post is inspired by the things marketers do that get in the way of their own success. The next time you’re looking to show ROI on your technology investment (not to mention that marketing program you just spent the past two days squirrelled away white boarding), here are 5 common pitfalls to avoid:
1. No Goals
Google is filled with lots of resources on how to set goals (489M to be exact). We know that we need SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound), but time and time again we find ourselves diving right in to a project with every intention of defining the objectives later on. Sadly, a project with no clearly defined goals isn't uncommon. And if you don't have any goals, then you may as well pack up, 'cause what's the point? If you have difficulty answering the question, “Why are we doing this?” in a simple and clear way that everyone involved in the project can understand, it’s time to go back to the goal-setting stage.
Key takeaway: Clearly define your business goals from the outset and then break them out into smaller goals, milestones and tasks, which are based in reality.
2. No Scope
We've all worked on a seemingly endless project – you know, the kind where you thought you were going to launch in September and now it's January of the following year and you’re still at it. In addition to setting goals, having a mutually agreed upon scope for the project will enable your team to identify when things are getting off course. It’ll also help you avoid the dreaded “scope creep” where the project morphs into a monster that is big, ugly and really hard to reign in. With a clearly defined scope, everyone will know what they should be doing and when, making them more accountable for their actions.
Key takeaway: Focus your team with a timeline (and stick to it), clearly define their roles and communicate what you are trying to accomplish.
3. No Brakes
A project moving too fast is akin to going down a hill on a bike with no brakes. It's just not going to end well. Be prepared, slow down a bit and enjoy the ride. As a vendor in the marketing tech space, we get people who are really excited to use our platform and on occasion our client success team will need to tap the brakes to slow things down just a little. When you’re pumped to get a project off the ground, basic marketing principles are usually the first things to take the hit.
Key takeaway: Drive safe! Don't get so swept up in the moment that you forget your best practices. Your future self will thank you for it.
4. No QA
Good ole quality assurance. It’s slow and not very sexy, but it is the one thing that will save you from sharing that heinous typo or broken link with the world. You’re almost there, the excitement has been building and it's nearly show time. Don’t cut corners now and forget to give everything one final pass. Get your work in front of a fresh set of eyes. You’ve looked at this stuff so many times; you won’t see that glaring error, trust me.
Key takeaway: Test everything and then test everything again. Leave nothing to chance with QA and you can “celelebrate” the fact that you prevented a typo or www.example.com link from going out in your campaign (Sorry Lisa and Eloqua!).
5. No Hope
During any large project, unexpected things will come up: You might lose a key person, the scope may change, something might break in testing, or a dozen other challenges you never saw coming. It’s inevitable that you’ll have to go back to the drawing board at some point. When this happens, don’t lose faith in yourself or your team. This stuff is hard because it’s new, and that’s ok. Losing faith in your abilities can cause you to make rash decisions based on fear or to pull back instead of pushing the limits a bit. Your project will suffer and you won’t see the results you were hoping for. Yes, this is a bit of a cheesy “believe in yourself” pep talk, but any time there are a lot of moving parts, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t smart or qualified enough to keep all the balls in the air. When you feel this way, stop, breathe and remember you’ve got this!
Key takeaway: Stay cool! A lack of confidence can lead to bad calls. When the project throws you a curve ball, and it will, don’t get flustered. Take a bit of extra time to rally, regroup and then get back at it.
It’s human nature: You’ve researched this amazing new technology purchase that’s just what the doctor ordered for your business. Now you’ll just press a button, sit back and watch the magic happen. Err, not quite. Nothing is magic. In the real world, you can buy great tech, but it's only going to be as good as the strategy, effort and thought you put into it. You have to work SMART, don’t sweat the small stuff, be methodical and stay focused and positive. Do this and you’ll not only maximize the return on your technology, you’ll also save yourself a lot of pain and embarrassment down the line.
Sarah Facini is Head of Client Relations (Team Awesomeness) at LookBookHQ. In her role, she works with clients to design and deliver best-in-class demand generation and “always-on” lead nurture programs. When it comes to project management do’s and don’t, she’s seen it all, which makes her a “go-to” resource for marketing best practices and common