It’s a story we hear all of the time: A business grew rapidly in its first years by focusing on sales and pursuing whichever opportunities came its way. Eventually, though, growth leveled off. The company needed to do something to jumpstart its sales and fuel its next-level growth. Executives recognized it was time to invest in marketing.
The business didn’t have a marketing leader on staff, so it assigned its founder/CEO or sales leader to the function and maybe even hired a junior marketer or some agency partners. The stand-in marketing leader invested the budget across numerous tactics, channels, and audiences. They thought (and hoped): At least one of these should work, right?
At Authentic Brand, we call this spray-and-pray approach “random acts of marketing.” It happens when businesses try one marketing tactic after another, frequently gravitating toward the next shiny marketing object. Companies churn out these scattered tactics when they don’t have a strategic marketing plan and leader to ground and guide their efforts. Random acts of marketing are rarely, if ever, an effective approach.
Executives might know they need marketing, but they often don’t know how to structure or measure its effectiveness. Since businesses often see marketing as an overhead expense, they expect to see the impact of their investments quickly. This pressure to deliver a return, coupled with a lack of strategic leadership and time to prove efforts, often leads businesses to commit wasteful and ineffective random acts of marketing.
Random Acts of Marketing
When growing businesses activate marketing on a reactive, tactical, “shiny object” basis or with short-term, experimental bursts. Ultimately, random acts of marketing burn through resources without building meaningful brand value or delivering consistent revenue returns.
Are you committing random acts of marketing?
We’ve had hundreds of conversations with business executives about their most pressing growth challenges. Through these discussions, we’ve uncovered 15 telltale signs that point to a business committing random acts of marketing.
Recognize your business in any of these signs? It might be time to consider what steps you can take to build a strategic and modern marketing organization to fuel your next-level growth and overcome random acts of marketing.
15 Tell-Tale Signs of Random Acts of Marketing
1. You’re not sure what healthy growth means for your organization.
For marketing to be strategic, the team needs to know what healthy growth looks like for your organization. Are you looking for a small, incremental increase over the previous year? Or maybe you aim to double your revenue or get acquired. Healthy growth is different for every organization.
Businesses that struggle to define healthy growth don’t typically have a clear vision of where they want to be in one, three, or ten years. This lack of clarity leads to reactive, scattered marketing tactics because the team doesn’t know what it’s working toward and how it can best support those objectives. You need a documented strategy that you update quarterly and annually, so departments — including marketing — can build execution plans that support your growth vision.
Define your growth focus and communicate it to your team.
2. You’re not sure how much you should budget for marketing.
There is no silver bullet for how much a business should invest in its marketing resources and programs. The investment will depend on numerous factors, including whether you run a B2C transactional business or a B2B business with a multiple-year, complex sales cycle.
The most important investment you can make to build a strategic, vibrant brand is in a strategic marketing leader. This leader (whether part-time or full-time) can assess the market and the business’s objectives to provide recommendations on budget, where to direct it, why, and how much of a return to expect.
In many cases, the marketing investments you make today to generate demand might not harvest revenue for a couple of years. You need a marketing leader who knows how to test, iterate, and refine to stay accountable and deliver long-term results.
One of the most common questions we get from clients is, “How much should I spend on marketing?” It seems like a simple question, but unfortunately, the answer isn’t. The not-so-satisfying answer we often give to questions about marketing budget allocation is, “It depends.”
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