failing-grade-mGuest post by Michael Cannon

When you peel the onion back on why your marketing team is failing you, what you find is that the issues are focused primarily on four categories of marketing content:

  1. Customer-facing collateral (company website, brochures, videos, etc.)
  2. Demand generation (advertising, events, etc.)
  3. Internal-facing sales tools (competitive analysis, sales opportunity overviews, etc.)
  4. Sales support training (product, competitive, sales enablement, etc.)

When you peel down to another layer, what you see is that it’s rarely the content that’s the problem but rather the messaging in the content — or more specifically, the lack of effective messaging. The messaging is focused mostly on what your product does and includes, and how it works, instead of being focused on why your product is the best way to help your customers achieve their business objectives. It’s primarily descriptive messaging, and not persuasive messaging.

The result is content that is well written/produced, descriptive and not effective.

Proof that most customer communication (content and sales conversations) is probably ineffective can be seen in over a decade of research and is summarized in the following Customer Communication Effectiveness Index:

  • Less than 50% of your marketing and sales communications are relevant to your customers
  • Less than 30% of your marketing content is relevant to your customer-facing teams

Just for a moment, consider these data points and the cost burden they place on your organization. Even if your organization is 10% to 20% better than the average, the cost is still too high, and avoidable.

Top 10 Reasons Why Marketing Is Failing

When you peel the onion back yet another layer and ask, ”Why is it that most of the messaging in Marketing’s content is not relevant or useful?”, the following items emerge:

  1. Poor visibility into the true cost of ineffective customer communication
  2. Lack of clear differentiation among messaging, content, and conversations
  3. Inaccurate model of the categories, styles, and types of messaging required for market success
  4. Misguided priority setting
  5. Erroneous business model for allocating sales and marketing resources
  6. Ineffective new-product development process or commercialization process
  7. Lack of method and skills to create persuasive messaging
  8. Poor alignment around the definition, rating, hand-off, follow-up, and reporting of leads
  9. Limited sales experience
  10. Lack of a formal feedback loop from Sales, a.k.a. content usage and rating system, to understand what is working, what is not, and “why?”

An additional reason is that executive leadership manages Marketing primarily on the quantity of content produced rather than the effectiveness of the content.

For a description of the first nine reasons and their solutions, read “9 Strategies to Increase Marketing Effectiveness

A sales portal with basic content-management functionality resolves reason #10.

What do you think is the best way to change how executive leadership manages the marketing function?

What’s on your top 10 list?

Michael Cannon is an internationally renowned marketing and sales effectiveness expert, best-selling author, speaker and an authority on enabling B2B companies to engage customers with the most influential communications. For more information visit