20 April 2023

The most common marketing problems across 1,500 businesses in the UK and SA

Peter Ivanoff
Written by Peter Ivanoff

Peter is a part-time marketing director with The Marketing Centre. He is a qualified Chartered Marketer and registered practitioner with MASA, IMM and EMC. He has extensive experience in both B2B and B2C markets, including agency, design, luxury goods & services, property and professional manufacturing services arenas. International experience – working with clients across a variety of languages and cultures.

One of the first things we do when we start working with a new customer is carry out our Marketing 360 Assessment. We’ve done our assessment for more than 1,500 business owners and you’d be surprised how often the same mistakes come up time and time again. 

This Marketing 360 Assessment analyses every aspect of your marketing strategy to highlight key strengths, weaknesses and areas of focus.

So, here are the most common problems we uncover when we start working with new customers - and how to fix them.

Misalignment between sales and marketing

Marketing says they’re generating enough leads. Sales says they’re not. 

Marketing says they’re reaching the right customers. Sales disagrees. 

Marketing says sales aren’t following up. Sales says the ‘leads’ they’re following up with aren’t worth their time.

Marketing and sales need to be able to seamlessly work together to identify the greatest opportunities and get them over the line.

How to fix it: Marketing and sales need to be working towards the same definitions of what constitutes a quality lead and how many of them are required.

You can find a detailed guide on how to define a quality lead for your sales and marketing teams on our website.

Marketing seen as ‘separate’ from the rest of the business

The marketing department’s job isn’t to ‘do marketing’. It’s to help the business reach its objectives - typically expressed as revenue or sales targets. 

But what we often see when we run our Marketing 360 Assessment is that marketing’s remit and priorities are seldom in-touch with the wider business strategy. 

This results in marketing prioritising activities that feel like ‘doing marketing’ (chasing vanity metrics like page views or social media followers) over activities that are likely to deliver the business objectives.

How to fix it: Your marketing strategy should start with your business goals. There needs to be a clear connection between your strategies and tactics and the business objectives you’re trying to deliver. Check out our recent post on the strategy waterfall for more info on how to do this. 

Confusing marketing with ‘lead generation’

Marketing’s remit is often much broader than business owners realise. And the more narrowly you define it, the less likely you are to deliver real ROI.

Marketing isn’t just about generating leads. It’s about branding, pricing, positioning, product, defining your value proposition - and more besides.

How to fix it: Make sure your marketing touches upon all four fundamental functions of marketing within a business - outlined in our Marketing 360 framework. These are:

  1. Define - Knowing what your potential customers look like and what your product or service can do for them
  2. Find - Identifying ways to target them based on their behaviours and habits
  3. Win - Devising strategies to close sales and create customers
  4. Keep - Monitoring customer churn and creating retention activities to remedy it

Does your business effectively hit all four fundamental functions?  Take our Marketing 360 Assessment to find out.

Lacking clarity on what to prioritise 

Marketing tends to touch multiple parts of the business. 

As a result, marketing teams usually have very long lists of things they could be focusing on, ranging from the important (revising value prop) to the trivial (changing a couple of words on a page of the website that no one ever visits).

Prioritising marketing activities is absolutely central if you want to get the most out of your team and keep them focused on high-priority tasks that actually make a difference to your results.

How to fix it: Make sure that your team are focused on activities that clearly align with your business strategy and not on nice-to-haves. For guidance on how to stop spending time and money on random acts of marketing, see our blog. 

Buying tools without a plan for how to use them

Businesses often add tools to their tech stack without thinking through exactly what they’re for or how they’re going to help the business reach its objectives. Martech platforms also do a great job of making ‘nice-to-have’ technology sound essential.

This can quickly add up to thousands of pounds of bills every month with relatively little to show in terms of ROI. 

How to fix it: Think carefully before adding any new technology to your stack. Build your marketing toolset intentionally with a clear focus on why you’ve bought each tool and how you’re going to justify the cost. Ideally, each tool will also clearly relate back to your strategy. Get more information on choosing the right technology

An unclear value proposition and brand

Business owners often feel very clear about who they serve, how they help, what makes them unique, and so forth. But when you really grill them on the details, it starts to feel less solid.

This is especially true when you start asking these questions to other members of the company, rather than the business owner.

The value proposition can’t be something that just a few people really understand. It needs to be absolutely consistent across the whole business.

How to fix it: Regularly review your value proposition and ensure that it’s properly documented and shared across the whole business.

It all starts with the value proposition. Learn how to write a killer value proposition in under 15 minutes with our guide here.

Measuring marketing in terms of ‘activity’ rather than ‘ROI’

Business owners often report feeling positive about the marketing activities they’ve rolled out. These often include building websites, making content and outbound campaigns. 

But when you drill into the results or the ROI, business owners feel much less confident. This shows a disconnect between the marketing activities and the results that are expected from them.

How to fix it: Make sure that every marketing activity has a meaningful metric or goal attached to it - and that you regularly review performance. 

Do any of these sound familiar?

Our M360 Assessment will help you analyse your entire marketing operation - from your strengths and things you’re doing well to your weaknesses and areas to prioritise. It will also help surface the kinds of issues we’ve shared in this piece.

We’ll then provide you with a personalised action plan to move forward with. This is all free of charge and with no hard sell or obligation - just no-nonsense marketing advice. 


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