Why the Trial-and-Error Approach to Marketing Could Be Costing You Money

Marketing is the lifeline of any business. It’s the process of creating, communicating and delivering products and services to customers with the aim of satisfying them and achieving business goals. The success of any marketing campaign depends on the marketer's understanding of the audience.

As businesses explore the behaviors of their audiences, it’s important for them to recognize that interests, demographics and other factors vary greatly – even within seemingly similar groups. Audiences are not monolithic, so gaining insight into what motivates audience members to engage will help you segment your audience in order to create specialized, personalized messages that resonate with them.

Unfortunately, a lot of marketers don’t spend enough energy to gain an understanding of what connects their audience to their organization, product, service or mission. For many, there is safety in drawing from organizational beliefs because if their approach is not successful, the approach based on these perceived truths is easy to defend.  

The trial-and-error approach to marketing has become the default for many marketers, which can waste critical resources, send the wrong message, lose market share to competition and prevent companies from capitalizing on future opportunities.

The Dangers of the Trial-and-Error Approach to Marketing

How much do you know about your audience? Have you spent the time to truly understand people’s needs? Or are you basing your decisions on assumptions and “the way it’s always been done”?

In marketing, there are many long-held beliefs about what the market wants from an organization or why they choose to make a purchase or support a cause. But how many of these “truths” have been assumed only by observing input from the vocal few from their audience? How many were derived simply from the thoughts of internal stakeholders?

These are critical questions that companies must ask themselves to avoid the pitfalls of trial and error before embarking on any marketing campaign.

Statistically speaking, the trail-and-error approach to marketing is bound to be successful occasionally, but that success is often by luck or chance. If you continue to use this method, however, the results will eventually reflect the lack of a deeper understanding and you will find yourself experiencing results that don’t measure up to your previous efforts. 

1. Wasted Resources 

The trial-and-error approach to marketing can be particularly costly, especially in today’s economy. Resources such as time, money and personnel can be limited, and wasting these resources on marketing initiatives that are not backed by data can be detrimental to an organization’s bottom line.

It’s important for companies to take the time to enhance their knowledge about their target audience’s needs, study their behavior and craft a marketing campaign that will resonate with them. This approach will help companies to allocate their resources more effectively, increase the results of their efforts and generate a higher return on investment.

2. Sending the Wrong Message 

Inconsistency due to lack of insights and coordination can lead to mixed messages and unfavorable consequences.

If an organization launches several different marketing campaigns that convey different messages, this can lead to a confused and frustrated customer base. A confused customer is less likely to make a purchase or engage with your brand.

Therefore, it’s important to ensure that every marketing campaign is consistent in its message and appeals to the target audience. This consistency will establish a brand identity in the minds of customers and promote brand loyalty.

3. Losing Market Share 

The competition is fierce in any industry, and companies must ensure that their marketing efforts stand out. If an organization relies too much on the trial-and-error approach to marketing, it can quickly lose market share to competitors who have deeper insights regarding their target audience and have a better understanding of the messages, channels and tactics that will drive their response.

Companies can lose valuable customers who are frustrated with the lack of consistency in the brand’s message and may be swayed by the competition. Therefore, organizations must understand their audience to create compelling messaging that sets them apart and protects their market share.

4. Missing Out 

The world is constantly evolving, and companies must keep up to stay relevant. If an organization does not take the time to understand its audience, it may miss out on valuable insights and trends in the market. Companies that analyze data and continuously monitor the behavior of their target audience to adapt to changing market conditions are the ones to capitalize on new opportunities when they emerge.

Man studying analytical data on a laptop
Data-driven insights can help businesses avoid the pitfalls associated with trial and error in marketing.

Shifting the Focus Toward Data-Driven Marketing

While trial and error may be an easy way to develop new marketing campaigns, it is a flawed strategy. The pitfalls of the trial-and-error approach to marketing can be serious, ranging from wasting resources to missing future opportunities.

Businesses need to do more than just depend on beliefs to succeed in marketing. Understanding the target audience on a deeper level is critical to segmenting the audience and creating effective messaging that appeals to the right people at the right time.

It’s time for organizations to shift their focus from trial and error to utilizing the power of data-driven marketing that delivers results. In part 2 of this blog series, we explore how insightful data can lead to a more successful marketing approach.


Funding Revenue Increased for Nonprofit Children’s Foundation
Hyper-Personalization of Membership Renewal Letters Increases ROI for WGVU
Columbus Humane and the Principles of Persuasion

Kirk Vercnocke
Kirk Vercnocke


LinkedIn logo
Mark M Gaskill
Mark M Gaskill

EVP of Marketing Solutions

LinkedIn logo