20 Reasons Marketing Plans Can Fail & How to Create a Solution

20 Reasons Marketing Plans Can Fail & How to Create a Solution

After a detailed strategic process, you and your team have completed your marketing plan for the year. You have sold the executive team and thrilled the board with the goals and strategies outlined in your plan. Now the question is, can you efficiently and accurately execute your plan to achieve your goals?

Building a marketing plan is difficult due to all the data and dynamics that marketing must analyze and navigate to create the plan. Some of the data and dynamics necessary to shape your marketing plan include:

Historical data: Historical numbers that forecast future results.

  • Marketing team: The right people with the right skills to achieve the goals.
  • Marketing budget: The financial resources necessary to achieve the goals.
  • The competition: Analysis of current situation and predicting future moves.
  • The market: Economic conditions, trends, new markets, market maturity.
  • Sales function: Sales team scale, efficiency, needs.
  • Your product/service: Product impact, timeliness of new products, and services.

Unfortunately, these considerations do not disappear after the plan has been written and execution has started. Data, market, and internal analysis needs to be conducted throughout the year. Any changes to the assumptions used as the basis of your plan will result in modifications to your plan. For this reason, you need to keep on top of business dynamics and review your assumptions on a monthly or quarterly basis. Changes will require agile replanning to stay in alignment with company goals.

Why Marketing Plans Fail

One of the most challenging and important aspects of the marketing profession is to stay current on market dynamics and install a structure to quickly react to them. Unfortunately, many marketers today are too busy with execution to notice changes in the marketplace or adapt to internal issues outside of their domain. This makes the team less agile. Below is a partial list of the many reasons your plan will end up being ineffective and will require a change in direction.

  1. Economic volatility causes budget cuts
  2. Competition launches an improved product or revised pricing
  3. Employee turnover of key marketers on your team
  4. Your plan is inadequate to achieve the stated goals
  5. The sales team is not prepared to do its part
  6. The CEO changes the company’s direction
  7. The R&D team does not hit its release dates
  8. The industry you sell to starts to dry up
  9. You fail to get traction in a new geography
  10. You overspend on campaigns resulting in plan modifications
  11. The team does not understand or buy into the plan
  12. You hire the wrong skill set or onboard staff late, creating a capacity gap
  13. New hires don’t pan out, leaving you shorthanded
  14. Vendors you hire don’t understand the plan and have misaligned output
  15. The sales team decides to take a different approach or direction
  16. Your partners do not hold up their end of the bargain
  17. Lead generation emergencies arise and distract the team from the goals
  18. Campaigns and programs get delayed creating a ripple effect downstream
  19. Major marketing events get canceled
  20. Marketing leadership changes


This list above can look daunting, but it will occur whether you like it or not. The question is, if change is necessary, will you make the required adjustments?

The second reason plans fail is that the stated goals were never grounded. If you notice that you and your team are struggling to achieve your goals, this will require you to readdress the assumptions that were made to form the foundation for the plan. Some common reasons for building a marketing plan that misses its mark include:

  • Data gap: No relevant historical data, resulting in “best guess” goals
  • Executive pressure: Do what the boardCEO wants
  • Hero complex: CMO takes on too much responsibility
  • Resource imbalance: Available human vs. financial resources gap
  • No strategic alignment: Strategies are unaligned with company financial goals
  • No team buy-in: Team members not in agreement on the goals

Before you execute your plan, ensure you have avoided or addressed each of the points above. Having no strategic alignment and team buy-in are two of the most common pitfalls but are the easiest to fix with processes that create visibility, consistency, and measurement. These three elements will help you achieve operational excellence.

Download our eBook, “How to Execute a Marketing Plan with Operational Excellence” today, and learn how to efficiently and accurately execute your plan to achieve your goals.

Marketing Performance ManagementPlanful for Marketing

Latest Posts


Interviews, tips, guides, industry best practices, and news.

Get Started with Planful

  • LinkedIn
    How much time will you save?
  • LinkedIn
    How will your finance team evolve?
  • LinkedIn
    Where will technology support you?