A few weeks ago, Advertising Age columnist Tim Williams wrote an excellent article about 15 risks that agencies can’t afford not to take. (The link is to a pdf file, as the Ad Age column is now behind a subscription wall.) We’ve been discussing this article here at VantagePoint recently, and it occurred to me that there are a few of these risks that, in Mr. Williams’ double-negative-speak, marketers can’t afford not to take either.  What follows, with great thanks to Mr. Williams’ inspiration, are 4 ways for your marketing to fail in 2010.

1. Viewing your marketing as only interruption instead of engagement. The days of dumping all your media buy into trade ads in the hopes of “interrupting” your customers while they are reading their magazines are long gone, as is a sole reliance on direct mail or email campaigns. Marketers must continue to take advantage of new methods of engaging customers — and you can start by doing a little research to find out how your customers actually prefer to be talked to. (Hint: it’s probably not the way you suspect.)

2. Not being able to measure your marketing. Do you know, right now, how many sales your most recent marketing effort led to? Ok, you’re right — sometimes that’s difficult to correlate exactly. But there ARE ways to measure and analyze just about every marketing initiative you undertake. A landing page for a traditional ad campaign. Bit.ly links for your social media campaigns. Thorough analytics for your website, with a carefully designed “purchase” path. In a nutshell, it’s ostrich-like to assume that there isn’t some way of identifying an objective and measuring it for each of your 2010 marketing tactics.

3. Thinking of the “big idea” as a single idea. Effective marketers today find ways to market across a wide variety of platforms. And yes, the “idea” still permeates all these platforms. But no longer should you think of it as just an ad. Now I’ll confess, sometimes when our creative team is working, we’ll start with the ad platform. But that’s only because it’s a convenient box to begin from — and then jump out of. Think integration across multiple platforms, where the “big idea” becomes “big ideas.”

4. Spending your money on media alone, instead of investing it in content. Tim’s example contrasts the cost for a television buy that reaches a million people ($60,000) vs. the cost for a YouTube buy that reaches a million people (um, $0, essentially). Invest your dollars in the creation of the idea — and make it a good one — and the content, rather than pouring it all into media. There are many, many good digital avenues to carry your message farther than you ever could on a limited marketing budget. $60,000 spent on a trade ad run might get you a little visibility, but $60,000 spent on a white paper, a landing page, a video, and a social media campaign that engages your customers and directs them to your content will get you interested customers who are ready to buy. Which do you prefer?

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