This Marketing Best Practice Isn’t Working – Why Not?
The phrase “best practice” is casually tossed around by marketing consultants, but if they’re “best,” why don’t marketing tactics translate across industries or even within industries? First things first, best practices are a set of guidelines, beliefs, or ideas that represent the most efficient course of action.
“Company X did this, in this fashion, to get these activities, and got these outcomes. You should get the same outcomes if you repeat those same activities, in the same fashion.”
Seems logical, right?
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) is a successful example of governing authority provided best practices. ISO 9000 is another popular set of standards to measure yourself against. Best practices help managers work faster and get better results. It should be the same with marketing, right?
There are two problems with best practices in marketing.
First is context. Unless you’re selling to robots in a controlled environment, it’s hard to replicate the same conditions. ISO 9000 improves supply chain conditions, but the supply chains are in existence. Most marketing activities are growth oriented, which means by their nature they are unknown. Your guess is as good as anyone’s if a marketing tactic is going to work.
Second is the standards used. GAAP uses principles like the cost principle which means that the original cost of an item is recorded on the financial statement, regardless of changes to the cost over time. Even if the market value of an asset, like an object of art, has gone up over time, the original cost of the asset, which can be objectively verified, goes in the books. Marketing standards sound more like, “a good open rate on email campaigns is 20%.” Can you hear the difference?
My advice is to note best practices, but don’t expect them to work for your company as described. Ask your service provider to walk you through the outcomes you expect. Online video may have been the tactic that turned Jane’s law firm around, but where will results from a video strategy show up in your firm?
What are the results now?
What do you want them to be?
What’s the value of the difference?
How will that value be weighted over time?
Asking those questions is as close to a “best practice” in something as condition dependent as marketing. Start there. Run the campaign. Compare to expectations.