4 Common Barriers to Marketing Success


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Successful companies generally become successful by finding their own unique way of approaching the marketplace, interacting with and satisfying customers, and providing goods and services that fill a need. They become successful by breaking the rules, not by following them. Then their methods become fodder for pundits and academics and become the new rules.

Experience suggests, however, that unsuccessful companies share a number of issues in common. (Leave aside for the moment under-funding, poor timing, or unwanted products and services.)

1. One of the most profound problems is confusion between strategy and tactics. The term “strategy” has been tossed around with such abandon that it is becoming meaningless. Everything is a “strategy” today. There are social media strategies; there are mobile marketing strategies; there are customer engagement strategies, and on and on. These are, in fact, tactics that should support your business strategy, i.e. your ultimate business objectives and all the various means by which you plan to achieve it.

2. Too little care is taken on positioning and differentiation or, to take the jargon out of it, too little care is taken to explain why I should spend my money with you and not your competitor. Think of the time and effort the car companies, for example, spend on explaining why you should buy a Lexus or an Acura or a Ford or a Subaru. They’ll all get you from point A to point B. It is the positioning and differentiation – the making of distinctions where there may or may not be differences – that helps make the sale.

3. Lack of coordination: This often takes the form of sales and marketing happily operating in their distinct own spheres and paying little attention to each other (except to complain that the other doesn’t appreciate it). It can take the form of finance demanding an ROI for a product that is not supported by marketplace realities. It can be as simple as not explaining your strategy with any depth or care to your employees. Whatever form it takes, it represents a major drag on growth.

4. Confusing the Customer: I keep coming back to this subject time and again because I believe it is an increasingly important issue that seems to remain stubbornly below the radar. With the ever-growing numbers of mechanisms at our disposal to reach out to customers and prospects, there is a concomitant growth in our ability to confuse them – and lose them – with mixed messages. Who is in charge of making sure that all the marketing tactics are cohesive and present a coherent picture, a picture that supports the company’s business objectives?

Solve these 4 basic barriers to marketing success, and your company has a much better chance of becoming one of the success stories people write about.

Emily R. Coleman
Dr. Emily R. Coleman is President of Competitive Advantage Marketing, Inc., a firm that specializes in helping companies expand their reach and revenues through strategy and implementation. Dr. Coleman has more than 30 years of hands-on executive management experience working with companies, from Fortune 500 firms to entrepreneurial enterprises. Dr. Coleman's expertise extends from the integration of corporate-wide marketing operations and communications to the development and implementation of strategy into product development and branding.


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