In 23 seconds: Mention the term “quality initiative” within an organization, and it will often evoke thoughts of complicated and seemingly unnecessary systems, processes, and procedures that delay critical projects. After all, what’s the harm in an occasional typo, misspelling, or mediocre design? It happens, right? We’re only human, and we all make mistakes. But what if that typo is the wrong date for an event that no one notices until it’s too late? Or what if the wrong image is printed on a trade show booth? Unfortunately, many companies don’t consider investing in quality initiatives until they conduct a postmortem on a marketing catastrophe.

Don’t stop here. Read on…

top 10 marketing mistakes companies make

Oh, the agony…

  • The misspelling of a URL in a PPC campaign.
  • A brochure printed on a $99 printer sloppily folded and distributed to meeting attendees.
  • A line card with low-resolution, grainy supplier logos.
  • Broken website links (404 Page Not Found).
  • Missed deadlines because only some people use the project management system.
  • The “sales@company.com” email used in the campaign doesn’t forward to anyone.
  • The eNewsletter was mailed to the wrong list.
  • Page three of the presentation wasn’t updated with the correct customer’s name.
  • A poster with a statement containing an expletive can be seen in the background of the video.

It happens. It’s painful.

But as they say, nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes.

The Five Sources of Mistakes in Marketing

They include…

Negligence (e.g., sloppiness, apathy, and forgetfulness): Admit it. All of us have been guilty of negligence at one point or another due to one factor or a combination of many factors. The more common include outside distractions, cutting corners to meet unrealistic deadlines, and unfortunate life events that consume our minds.

Lack of experience (e.g., little knowledge of best practices, industry standards, and norms): We’ve all been here and have paid our proverbial dues.

Lack of skills (e.g., not understanding proper grammar, poor eye for design, minimal knowledge of technology): This is typical when people are placed in or even expected to fill roles they are not yet ready to take on.

Incompetent trainer or minimal training (e.g., passing on bad habits, lack of clarity): Unfortunately, too many companies don’t prioritize training due to time and cost. But, as we all know, it takes more time and costs more to fix mistakes—even the small ones.

By no fault (e.g., poor communication, no process, no sets of standards): People don’t know what they don’t know.

As you can see, mistakes are not 100 percent avoidable.

However, with the right structures and systems in place, or what many refer to as checks and balances, mistakes in your marketing function can certainly be significantly minimized.

 

The Five Ways to Improve Quality and Accuracy Within Your Marketing Department

 

System #1: The Marketing Project Brief

A marketing project brief is a crucial document that serves multiple purposes—one of which is acting as a quality management tool within marketing departments. It ensures all details of projects are covered to provide project clarity and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Project brief topics and components will include:

  • Project name
  • Project manager name
  • Internal due date(s)
  • Completion date
  • Timeline(s)
  • Budgets
  • Purpose of the project
  • Target audience(s)
  • Primary and secondary marketing messages
  • Copy
  • Calls to action
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Details to include (URL, email, phone number, QR codes, reply-by date, logos, fonts, certifications, icons, etc.)
  • Review and approval process
  • Other:_____________

Although some may say a marketing project brief takes too much time to complete (cough), there is no better way to ensure every detail is covered. You know the saying: There’s never enough time to do it the right way, but there’s always plenty of time to redo it the right way after an embarrassing mistake was made.

With a robust and thorough marketing brief, your projects will stay on task and on budget.

System #2: Project Management Tools

Project management tools (PMTs) are cloud-based systems designed to help marketing teams plan, manage, and execute their projects efficiently and effectively. From overseeing the launch of new products to managing marketing campaigns and projects, PMTs ensure the marketing function runs smoothly, with no potholes, bumps, roadblocks, or hiccups.

Although PMTs have been around for quite a few years, many people still rely on email to manage their projects. (Yikes!) The fact is that email was never designed or intended to be a marketing PMT. If you’ve ever been subjected to using email to manage even small-scale projects, you’ve undoubtedly experienced its many shortcomings. To name just a few: no time tracking capabilities; no checklist features; no central place to store all critical digital assets, such as documents, graphics, or A/V files; no way to track budgets; and so on. And the worst shortcoming is that it takes enormous amounts of time to hunt down emails containing critical information, and even when you get the information, it’s impossible to verify that it is the latest information.

Enough said!

Here is a list of the top PMTs for 2024.

System #3: Proofreading

As tempting as it may be, relying solely on the popular grammarly.com or other Alien Intelligence text proofing and editing tools can be disastrous. In my experience, these tools do not always make correct suggestions, primarily because AI does not yet understand context.

My recommendation is to use a reputable proofreading service like bulletproofonline.com. When they return your work with edits, you’ll be glad you did.

Also keep in mind that proofing isn’t just for copy—it’s also for so many different components of a project. For your reference, I’ve included a checklist below of what I use to make sure everything is tightened up before publishing or printing:

  • Check for proper grammar and spelling
  • Call phone numbers
  • Double-check URLs (test them)
  • Make sure email addresses are working
  • Double-check dates and times of events
  • Confirm spelling of people’s names
  • Confirm trade show booth numbers
  • Check all links
  • Consistent use of headers and footers
  • Consistent margins on all pages
  • Check QR codes
  • Strong CTAs
  • Include hashtags in posts
  • Check design, colors, and fonts against brand guidelines
  • Ensure consistent use of fonts
  • Use of the correct company logo (consistent size and placement on all pages)
  • Icons (BBB, UL508A, ISO, etc.)
  • Update revision date
  • Update copyright date
  • Check registrations and trademarks
  • Ensure images and logos aren’t distorted from resizing
  • Match the referring number in a list to the number of list items (e.g., these four reasons…)
  • Ensure consistency with the website and other marketing materials
  • Other (based on project):

System #4: Brand Standards

Every company needs a brand standards manual.

A brand standards manual, also known as brand guidelines, style guide, or brand book, is a comprehensive document specifying how an organization’s brand will be communicated across various mediums. It serves several purposes in marketing and brand management:

Consistency: The most critical function of a brand standards manual is to ensure brand consistency across all platforms and materials. This includes everything from logo usage to color palette, typography, imagery, and messaging. Consistency helps build a strong, recognizable, and cohesive brand identity.

Brand Recognition: By maintaining a consistent brand image and voice, a company increases its brand recognition among its target audience. When consumers can easily identify your brand across different contexts, it strengthens their trust in and relationship with your brand.

Professionalism: A well-defined brand standards manual reflects a company’s professionalism and attention to detail. It shows that the organization values how it is perceived by its audience and is committed to maintaining high standards in all its communications.

Efficiency and Clarity: For new employees or external partners (like advertising agencies, designers, and content creators), a brand standards manual provides clear guidelines on how to use the brand elements properly. This saves time and resources by avoiding mistakes or the need for corrections in the design and implementation phases of marketing campaigns.

Legal Protection: The manual can also serve as a legal document to protect the company’s intellectual property. It outlines the correct use of trademarks, logos, and other branded elements, helping to prevent misuse or misrepresentation of the brand.

Unity and Culture: Internally, a brand standards manual can help foster a sense of unity and culture among employees. When everyone understands and adheres to the same brand guidelines, it reinforces the organization’s collective identity and purpose.

Adaptability: While ensuring consistency, a good brand standards manual also allows for flexibility. This adaptability is crucial for the brand to stay relevant and responsive to market changes or new trends without losing its core identity.

System #5: Restricting Access to Logins

How many people have usernames and passwords to your website, social media accounts, email server, and software/productivity accounts? And how many have administrative access? And my final question—how many are ex-employees, employees from former marketing agencies, consultants, and so on?

The more people with access, the more vulnerable your company is to irreversible damage and nefarious activity. For example, giving admin access to your website to someone who knows just enough to be dangerous can cause serious harm in terms of website functionality and making changes (such as unintentional deletions) that would be very difficult to recover or restore.

As the president or CEO of your company, ensure that only the right people have access to your digital tools and assets. Take this opportunity to have everyone, including yourself, update their usernames and passwords.

What now?

What is your most urgent need? Where is the greatest weakness in your marketing function? Start there. Then, strongly consider launching a quality initiative in your marketing department and replicating it within other areas of your organization. Once you’re on your way, you’ll start to notice immediate improvements not only in quality but also in collaboration, teamwork, and efficiency. Your employees will appreciate it!