The Marketing Campaign That Never Ended

Once upon a time there was a marketer who had a brilliant idea. Their company would launch a huge marketing campaign that would bring in a gazillion leads. The executive team bought into the idea, and the whole company went to work on supporting it. There was branding and collateral and PR around it. The day finally came and it launched, and it was a huge success.

After several months, the number of leads coming in dropped off. So the marketer decided it was time to pull the plug on the campaign and move on to something else. But when she tried to shut it down, she ran into trouble.

  • – The legal department pointed out some long term agreements in the original contracts that obligated the company to keep spending money on the services and collateral relating to the campaign.
  • – The executive team pointed out how the campaign was featured in their annual report, and if they discontinued it they’d look like idiots, investors would flee, the stock price would fall, and the company would collapse.
  • – Vendors who worked on the campaign swore that they’d never work with you again if you stopped running the campaign, because they were all using it in their portfolios.
  • – The facilities team would point out that they replaced all of the bathroom tiling with logos derived from the campaign, and that removing them at this point would likely cause the entire building to collapse.

So the marketer was forced to continue the campaign. The cost to end it was simply too high to bear, so they were stuck with it forever.

I know what you’re thinking. What a stupid story. Such a thing could never happen. And you’re right – at least, when it comes to marketing campaigns.

But I’m not a marketer, I’m a software developer, and while these kinds of things don’t exactly happen with software, this story does illustrate the big difference between a marketing campaign and software. You can end a marketing campaign. Software tends to stick around, has ongoing maintenance costs, and can be as expensive to remove as it was to develop and install in the first place.

When companies have software built to support a marketing campaign or business processes, they sometimes forget that if they want to drop that campaign or business process they’ll have to go back and modify, remove or rewrite the software.

Just the other day we had a customer who wanted our help in changing a business process. As part of our usual practice, we looked around to see what it might impact, and found some software that would need some minor modifications. That’s not unusual. We then found out that the customer had no resources – nobody on staff – who understood the software or had the ability to make the change. To them it was a black box created some time in the past by a consultant. This too is not unusual. But it is a problem. In this case we were able to help them out – we take care of our customers.

But think about it next time you bring in a consultant to build some software for you. That software may linger on long after it is needed. It may be incompatible with future campaigns or processes and need to be fixed. Never forget that the most of the cost of any software project is in maintenance – occurs after the project is delivered, and be sure to budget accordingly, or you too may find yourself stuck with a campaign that never ends.

Dan Appleman

About Dan Appleman

As Full Circle Insights’ CTO, Dan Appleman brings a broad technology experience to our customers. In addition to having supported over 30 Salesforce.com implementations with technology solutions, Dan is also the author of the book "Advanced Apex Programming for Salesforce.com and Force.com" and has been a speaker at Dreamforce since 2012. Previously, he was the founder of Desaware, Inc. a developer of add-on products for Microsoft Visual Studio, a co-founder of Apress publishing, and the author of numerous books and articles.