On one hand, strategy is the foundational planning for any marketing or business action. On the other hand, it is a word that has lost its respect due to excessive use that diluted its significance. Marketing strategy has become a shallow document that merely recommends platforms that everyone already uses and clichéd brand values that anyone can relate to, but are hard to believe in. 

Crafting a marketing strategy is a serious matter that requires in-depth research within and outside the company or organization. It involves a deep understanding of the company’s operations, a profound comprehension of the consumer and their journey, insight into the marketing tactics of competitors, and connecting all these aspects to actionable steps that streamline the company’s marketing and sales efforts. These are not documents produced in a couple of days with a length of three pages. It is a process that requires at least two months of dedicated work. 

Why is it important to undergo such a process? Here are 12 common mistakes we discover in marketing strategy processes we conduct. 

1. Living in a Bubble 

I’m not quite sure why, but businesses are hesitant to communicate with their customers. The result, in many cases, is living in a bubble, creating a distorted perception of the market. In companies and organizations where there is a lot of talk about customers but not with customers, the disconnect can be detrimental. A strategic process allows you to listen to what your customers have to say, through both quantitative and qualitative research, and derive insights about what is really happening in the field and what should be done next. 

Field Example: A company that imports and camping products, placed “customer service” as its primary and central value. Interviews we conducted with dozens of stores that purchase products from the company revealed that while customer service is indeed excellent in the central region, it is not good enough in the south and north. Store owners from these regions expressed dissatisfaction with the company’s emphasis on customer service, as in practice, it does not deliver the goods, which is why they don’t order more products from the company. Eventually, delivery times were improved in the regions that needed it, response times were significantly shortened, and orders from existing stores did increase. 

2. The Rebranding Syndrome 

Rebranding is an exciting concept, at least for marketers. It involves creative processes, design, and brainstorming, and most importantly, it’s easy to secure a budget for it from management. But let’s be honest, how many times has rebranding actually solved marketing problems? In most cases, rebranding is an easy way to avoid addressing a marketing challenge while feeling that “we did something.” However, a new logo with a catchy slogan alone cannot achieve marketing goals without a comprehensive strategic marketing process that addresses the root of the problem. 

Field Example: A company that provides software solutions for inventory management was seeking ways to enter new markets. Since the company and its products were perceived in the market as suitable for large businesses, medium-sized organizations and businesses refrained from considering their services, even though the company had solutions that were also suitable for such companies. The prevailing sentiment within the company was that in order to reach the market of medium-sized companies, they needed to rebrand and distance themselves from their immediate branding as a company that exclusively caters to large businesses. However, strategic research revealed that rebranding would not solve the problem because the decision-making criteria for medium-sized businesses in the software field are fundamentally different from those of large organizations – and that is where the marketing challenge lies. Based on the strategy’s findings, the company established a dedicated division for medium-sized businesses with a marketing and content plan tailored to them. 

3. Ambiguous Differentiation 

Yes, we know. You have an exceptional service, and you are highly professional. Innovation is also an important value for you. However, your competitors claim the same exact things. When your differentiation is limited to a collection of general superlatives that also serve your competitors, it is not truly creating differentiation. If you want to prove that you are professional you must sharpen the focus: What exactly makes you professional, and how does it manifest in practice? Do you provide excellent service? Great. How is it different from your competitors’ service? Is it through higher availability? More flexible customer service?  

A strategic process must establish your genuine differentiation, articulate it accurately, and outline the path to demonstrating it through content. 

Field Example: An academic institution that promoted the clichéd values of “top-notch lecturers” and “personal attention,” values that other competitors also use in parallel. During the strategic research process, significant points of meaningful differentiation were discovered from competitor institutions that were not necessarily related to these values. For example, the institution had a dedicated entrepreneurship center involving influential bodies in the Israeli economy, as well as unique and practical courses that did not exist in competitor institutions. The marketing strategy emphasized these advantages, proved them through content, and created new demands. 

4. The Broken Telephone 

Do you feel that potential customers are not sufficiently impressed by the advantages of your products or services? The problem does not lie with the customers. It lies with how you convey messages to them. The strategic process includes internal research stages that often reveal a “broken telephone” within the company or organization. When marketing messages are unclear and vague at the management level, they will be even less clear at the intermediate level and completely unclear on the sales floor. In such a situation, what chance do customers have to understand who you are and what makes you unique? 

Field Example: A company that imports technical equipment successfully sells to small and medium-sized businesses but not to large factories. During the strategic research process, it became clear that there were divisions within the board of directors regarding whether the products the company imports are suitable for large factories in terms of their long-term durability. This division within the management level was even more pronounced in the results of interviews conducted with the company’s salespeople, who revealed that most of them do not present the products as suitable for large factories from the start, and consequently, the large factories did not feel confident in purchasing the products. The marketing solution was to resolve the division within the management level and create a consistent message (which ultimately manifested in branding some of the products as suitable for large factories) that all levels of the organization believed in. 

5. Not Lifting Your Head from the Water 

Sometimes an organization or business is so caught up in daily management that there’s no one who takes the time to “lift the periscope” and see what’s happening outside. Just like in an earthquake, the market is constantly shifting, occasionally erupting and becoming destructive. Organizations that fail to monitor trends in their industry, understand the changes affecting consumers, and grasp the direction of future trends in their field may find themselves in a declining market or providing a consumer response that is no longer needed. A strategic process allows you to lift the periscope and understand what is happening in the circles surrounding the company, enabling you to innovate or navigate to a secure position. 

Field Example: An insurance company attempted to market one of its products through the Human Resources department as an employee benefit. However, the response from the field was low. As part of the research, we developed a digital focus group of HR managers, which revealed that while insurance was once perceived as a valuable benefit for the company to invest in for its employees, over time, the perception has shifted, and HR departments are now less interested in such products. The research findings indicated that addressing the marketing challenge with the HR department would require significant investment in content and marketing, and it was unclear if the market justified such an investment. As a result, the product was neglected, resulting in significant cost savings for the company. 

6. Lead Panic 

Management sets sales goals, and sales teams rely on marketing for leads. In many cases, organizations operate under a state of seasonal “lead panic,” which requires allocating all available time and budget resources to generate leads through various channels. The result: a low ROI over time, insufficiently qualified leads, and tensions between management, marketing, and sales. Proper management, aligned with a defined marketing strategy, allows for the development of a well-structured annual plan that generates demand long before the panic sets in and builds assets that make it easier to achieve goals each year. No one can build an efficient marketing system when operating in a state of panic. 

Field Example: A language school approached us to develop an immediate lead generation campaign due to a lack of registrations for their courses. Through strategic research, we discovered that the school was suffering from lead panic: it was chasing registrations from course to course without finding the time and resources to build a content system that nurtures and engages users throughout the year. Investing in such a content system requires significant effort, but after one year of operation, it becomes profitable. After two years, it becomes highly profitable. 

7. Disconnect Between Marketing and Sales 

It can be said that while salespeople are from Mars, marketers Are from Venusthey don’t always speak the same language. Add to that the blurred boundaries between marketing and sales, and you have a recipe for creating tensions and gaps between these two departments that are supposed to work hand in hand. Through the process of strategic research, it is possible to uncover situations where salespeople in the field are not sufficiently updated on marketing processes, or marketers do not receive feedback from the field and therefore do not address important points for consumers. 

Field Example: In a large academic institution, the marketing department succeeded in bringing in well-qualified leads based on their deep understanding of the marketing funnel and knowledge of each lead’s areas of interest. However, the academic advisory team (salespeople in the academic jargon) received the leads without understanding the segmentation and started every conversation from scratch instead of starting it from where it should have begun – with a wealth of knowledge about the lead and their journey so far. Connecting the two ends allowed for a significant increase in conversion rates. 

8. Lack of Brand Regulation 

In many cases, the appearance of a brand’s products in physical stores has a significant impact on the brand’s reputation and sales. The best example is the battles for shelf space in supermarkets, where different suppliers compete for positioning and visibility in the eyes of consumers. However, what happens when there is no clear brand regulation, and each store can present the brand differently? Or, what happens when such regulation exists but is mainly on paper and not implemented in practice? The brand image becomes diluted and compromised. That’s why, in relevant cases, it is advisable for your marketing strategy to include undercover client visits to retail stores. 

Field Example: A company that manufactures and sells construction tools sold in hardware stores discovered, through research we conducted for them, that the brand regulation that dictates how the products should appear on the shelf is not consistently implemented in stores. Further research revealed that the reason for this was not negligence towards the brand but rather the technical difficulty of implementing brand regulations in small and crowded stores. The solution came in the form of developing unique and compact stands that are easier to implement even in limited spaces and using floor stickers instead of signs on shelves, which saved space and allowed stores to align with the regulations. 

9. “One Size Fits All” Approach 

Building customer personas is a well-known and accepted technique in the field of marketing. However, in practice, few businesses actually implement it, and those who do often limit it to very few personas. In the Midrash Tanhuma, it is written: “Just as people’s faces are not the same, so are their opinions not the same.” The meaning is that each persona you construct has sub-personas within it. This doesn’t mean you have to engage in this endless game, but you do need to understand that this is the reality. Through strategic research, you can identify the most relevant types of personas and their sub-personas. 

Field Example: A financial institution wanted to develop a unique investment program for individuals in the tech industry. The basic marketing plan treated individuals in tech as a single entity, while the research process revealed clear segmentation within the audience: segmentation based on job roles in the tech industry, generational segmentation (Generation X, Generation Y and Z), and segmentation based on their financial status. “A tech professional aged 30-40, married with two children” may be a persona, but there are many sub-personas within it that need to be understood in order to effectively target them with the right messages and content. 

10. Lack of consistency in Brand Awareness

The best customer is a satisfied customer who returns for additional purchases, orders, and even recommends you to others. However, in reality, not all satisfied customers return or recommend your business. There are various reasons for this, some of which you have control over. Sometimes, during customer research, it is discovered that customers simply “forget” about you (after all, two years have passed since the service was provided), and sometimes they perceive you as a provider of a specific service they acquired from you and are unaware of your other services. Regular interaction with customers not only keeps you in their awareness but also clarifies that you offer a variety of services. 

Field Example: During strategic research for a company providing civil engineering services, it was revealed that a significant number of engineers who had worked with the company and were highly satisfied with its services did not continue using it because they did not remember that it provided other services beyond the specific one they had purchased. A newsletter sent to the engineers, containing relevant information such as case studies, interviews, and articles across the various fields the company specializes in, not only kept the company in the engineers’ awareness but also highlighted the company’s range of expertise 

11. Misdefined Target Audiences 

Everyone” is the worst answer to the question “Who are you targeting?”. The second worst answer is “only a few.”  

Every product and service has direct target audiences who are part of the primary circle, as well as users who exist in broader circles. Many organizations and businesses target irrelevant audiences due to overgeneralization or overlook significant audiences due to insufficient definition. A crucial part of marketing strategy is accurately defining the various types of target audiences. 

Field Example: A pastoral settlement in the desert wanted to attract new families and defined its target audience in a limited way, considering age, family characteristics, and geographical distance from the desert. Research conducted among families revealed that the boundaries defined by the settlement were excessively narrow. In practice, a digital campaign we conducted to register interested families for an introductory weekend in the settlement resulted in over 150 interested families from all over Israel.  

12. Errors in Consumer Journey Mapping

There are industries and sectors where the consumer journey is very short, while others are more complex and challenging. Generally, as the product or service becomes more expensive, the consumer journey tends to lengthen accordingly. Sometimes businesses neglect to accurately map the consumer journey, missing out on opportunities to close deals or prevent marketing funnel drop-offs. A strategic process allows for precise mapping of the key stages of the consumer journey, enabling the delivery of the right content to the right person at the right time. 

Field Example: One of the sectors with a significant consumer journey is the new car purchasing domain. Car importers face various challenges related to the misinterpretation of the consumer journey, such as a lack of understanding of the psychological factors that prevent consumers from scheduling a test drive, or last-minute decisions to opt for a competing model due to parallel marketing efforts or a more convenient financing arrangement. Interpreting the critical stages of the consumer journey through quantitative and qualitative consumer research can identify the most important touchpoints and resolve issues through smart content usage and marketing automation. 

Summary: not all marketing strategies are equal 

Marketing and content strategy are essential to achieve goals, but they must be taken seriously. Remember? It has already been proven in research: If you don’t have a clear, written, and organized marketing strategy, your chances of reaching your goals are not high.