By failing to prepare, you are preparing to #FAIL


The title of this post comes by way of Benjamin Franklin sometime in the 18th century (Thanks, Ben.). Despite the age of this wisdom, the world is littered with examples of marketing efforts that have prepared for and executed against failure, often with spectacular results. Some of the most recent examples may soon become business school case studies in what can go wrong, including:

  • American Express sent a branded direct mail offer inviting customers to "Immerse Themselves" on a European vacation on the Costa Concordia, 6 weeks after the ship had sunk quite famously.
  • Blockbuster launched their "no late fees" campaign, only for consumers to discover that they were instead being charged the full amount of the DVD value if not returned by a certain date.
  • KFC launched a new product in the United States on a popular national television show (the Oprah Winfrey show), where the audience was told they could download a free coupon for a meal that KFC turned out unprepared to honor.

In each of these examples, one of two factors hurt these companies in a big way - either they were unable to be nimble enough to adjust downstream marketing processes, or they did not connect marketing to other aspects of the business. The results, of course, have been disastrous, but both factors can be mitigated with careful planning and therefore the bad results can be minimized or completely avoided. The key is to ask few important questions in the planning stages of your marketing:

  1. Do you have a centralized workflow mechanism for ensuring all aspects of your business can accommodate demands placed on it through marketing campaigns?
  2. Can you identify all resources necessary to shut down or ramp up a marketing campaign within 48 hours?
  3. Which marketing assets are your best performing assets, and are they compliant within the markets and channels in which they are leveraged?
  4. If you had to slash your budget by 20% tomorrow, how quickly could you cascade its impact across all deliverables within your annual marketing plan?
  5. Do you have a marketing calendar that can be centrally accessed?

These kinds of questions speak to some of the root causes that can pose larger problems downstream for marketers. If you had "no's" or "I don't know's" liberally sprinkled among your responses to the questions above, you aren't alone.

One source of potential answers is Gartner, which is one of the only firms that analyzes “applications that support the management of marketing resources, such as plans, people, budgets, projects, assets and cycle times.”* Those functions support an area they call Marketing Resource Management (MRM). Gartner just released its Magic Quadrant for Marketing Resource Management, in which they illustrated just how prevalent a business problem this is, noting that "In 2012, there were more than 625 new MRM implementations".*

In addition to valuable context Gartner provides in this report, they also examined SAS and 16 other companies in their approaches to addressing exactly these kinds of problems for businesses large and small. As a service to our readers, we're making this report available to you, free of registration and free of payment, by allowing you to simply click this Gartner link: Magic Quadrant for Marketing Resource Management.

After reading the report, please share it. Raise some tough questions within your own organizations.  Above all else, please take action. And if you won't listen to my advice, perhaps you can be inspired by the sage words of Will Rogers:

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

Thanks, Will.

*Gartner Magic Quadrant for Marketing Resource Management, Kimberly Collins, February 4, 2013

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose


About Author

John Bastone

John brings 15 years’ experience across many marketing disciplines, including direct marketing, analytics, consulting, product management and product marketing. He frequently represents SAS at global marketing conferences, including those hosted by Direct Marketing Association (DMA), National Center of Database Marketing (NCDM) & American Marketing Association (AMA), speaking about best practices and futures in the areas of social media and customer analytics. John has his Bachelor’s in Public Relations from the University of Florida, and Master’s degrees in Information Systems Management (MS/ISM) and Business Administration (MBA) from the University of South Florida. John currently resides in Tampa, FL. If you would like to connect with John directly, send a personalized connection request to his LinkedIn profile of or send connect to @johnbastone on twitter.


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