Why people rarely follow marketing plans

It’s a universal truth that business owners rarely follow marketing plans. I’ve yet to meet a marketing consultant or professor who does not lament this sad fact, while wondering aloud ‘why oh why don’t they listen?’

The problem is not so much an attention issue as it is a personality thing. People who start businesses do so partially because they don’t like taking orders. They want to do things their own way, be in charge, and guide the ship/troops/company to success.

Doing things your own way is basically incompatible with following a marketing expert’s plan because following plans requires taking orders. See the conflict?

Another universal truth is that business owners don’t know what they don’t know. Big business owners have people they trust who handle those things for them. Small business owners often lack objectivity. They are so essential to their own success that they either bullishly push forward, have blinders on, or they’re just too excited about doing everything that they don’t bother to follow the plan. (Remember, they started their business not to follow, but to lead.)

When a marketing consultant provides a road map to success, the map only works if the directions are followed. Just like an actual road map, turns and deviations lead to unknown destinations, many undesirable. Often times, people who ignore their marketing strategies and plans end up lost, wondering where they went wrong.

If we could just find a way to burn the blinders, tame the bulls, and keep focus trained on executing the plan at hand, well, that would be something. (I find baby steps work well.) Convincing someone to follow a marketing plan takes constant attention. Once they see the resultant success, they’re more likely to listen, yet the next plan will take just as much, if not more, attention. It can be an exhaustive effort, but the successes can be so rewarding.

Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.


Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

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