Marketing is no ‘magic wand’ for businesses

There’s no doubt that marketing is an extremely powerful tool for businesses. When done right, it can elevate your business profile and brand to prospects, show your products and services as the solution to their needs, and drive enquiries and increase sales. But let’s be honest, it can go horribly wrong.

Marketing is no magic wand for business. There are plenty of ways your marketing efforts can fail. However, you don’t want to hear that when you’re investing your hard-earned cash in marketing, do you? It’s crucial to understand where marketing efforts can go wrong. That way, you can avoid many issues that businesses encounter.

There are several reasons why your marketing might not work, so I’ve listed some of the biggest issues I see often below:

1. Lack of strategy

You know I talk about marketing strategy a lot! It is the number one reason your marketing doesn’t work if there is no strategy behind it.

You’re simply “doing” some marketing without any thought about how it fits with your overall business goals. Perhaps chasing a new trend or someone has said you should be doing a particular activity?

You must define your business goals and build a marketing strategy that will help you get to where you want to be. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time and money on tactics that won’t get results.

2. You don’t understand your customers

When is the last time you’ve talked (communicated) to your customers? This is a serious question … when is the last time you’ve picked up the phone or met with them to really understand what’s going on in their lives and businesses?

If you haven’t done that in a while, I strongly suggest you make time for it now. One of the biggest problems with marketing is that it is out of touch with your customer base.

Either you don’t really know who your customers are, or you have a poor understanding of their pain points and needs. You must understand them so that you can shape your marketing messaging and efforts to attract the right people or businesses (target market).

If you get to know your customers better, trust me, your marketing will improve.

3. No calls-to-action

When it comes to any marketing, it’s easy to get caught up in simply “doing” without a thought as to how it will help you drive leads and sales.

You need clear, obvious calls-to-action. Guess what, if you want people to buy from you, you must ask them to.

4. You’re using the wrong channels

You must use the right marketing channels to reach your target market. If you’re business is marketing through a channel that your potential customers don’t use, they won’t get the message.

It’s important to discover where your audience spends their time and gets information. Do they look online? Do they use social networks? Do they listen to radio, watch TV? You get the picture.

Nailing this down will help you invest your marketing efforts in the right places.

5. Poor targeting

Sometimes, your marketing doesn’t work because you’re targeting the wrong people, or your targeting isn’t narrow enough.

You might be using the right channels, but your marketing still isn’t getting to the right people. This is quite common with digital advertising.

For instance, Facebook makes it incredibly easy to “boost” your posts if you pay, but that approach isn’t very targeted. If you’re wondering why you’re not getting results with your Facebook advertising, it’s because you’re not targeting the ads to the right people.

6. You’re not patient enough

Sometimes, marketing doesn’t work because you gave up on it too quickly.

I often tell clients that it takes six to 12 months for marketing to generate results. Yes, you will see some success along the way, but it takes time to really get the momentum going.

That’s why persistence, as well as consistency in marketing is so important. Don’t give up on marketing after the first month or expect to see your money back right away. Give it some time.

7. Your product or service isn’t right or good

A hard one to take, but sometimes the problem isn’t with the marketing. Sometimes, the problem is YOU and no amount of marketing can help you.

Sure, you can have great marketing that get some footfall and enquiries, but a customer will not come back if your business does not live up to the expectations that your marketing promised.

It’s important to pay attention to customer service too. Sometimes, companies with an excellent product or service fail because their customer service is dreadful.

This is where communicating to your customers is so important as you need to understand if you are delivering on your company’s brand promise.

8. You aren’t investing enough

I’m not just talking about your marketing budget. If marketing is an afterthought at your organisation or your team isn’t contributing to your marketing efforts, you’re going to have a tough time achieving results.

Successful marketing requires both time and money. You must be willing to dedicate the proper time and resources to the effort.

And yes, sometimes, your marketing budget is too small. For instance, if you want your pay-per-click ads to show up on certain keywords, you might have to spend more to get the visibility and click-through-rates you’re after.

For instance, if you want a better website that makes the buying process simpler for your customers, or you want to drive more enquiries to it, you might have to invest some money to make that happen.

9. You make it difficult to buy

Both your business and your marketing can be great, but if you make it difficult for people to buy, they won’t.

How many times have you found a great product online, but didn’t purchase it because the buying process was too difficult? How often have you tried to contact a company to get more information, but they didn’t call back? This has happened to me a few times and I’m sure you’ve experienced this too.

We live in a world where people want instant solutions to their problems, so you must keep this in mind when structuring your buying process. Think about what information people need to decide and look at ways you can make the process seamless and simple.

10. You didn’t test or adjust

Although it’s important to have a marketing strategy, it needs to be flexible. It should serve as a starting point and a guide, but you may have to adjust along the way if your efforts aren’t working.

That’s why measurement is so important. You need to keep track of what’s working and what’s not so you can decide what to tweak throughout the year. It doesn’t make sense to keep following a plan that’s not working.

If you’ve had a marketing effort fail what was the reason?

Well, that’s about it … my ten potential issues that are completely avoidable simply by having the right strategy, a bit of planning to ensure what you use to market reaches your target market and putting yourself in the customer’s shoes.

If you lack time or resources, then outsourcing might be a good solution to save wasting money and your time on things that won’t work.

Andy Sarson
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Andy Sarson

Andy likes to work with small businesses (sole traders, new start-ups, or established businesses with up to 75 employees) by identifying their target markets, developing, and delivering effective marketing strategies with affordable plans and activities designed to help them grow - it's his belief that getting the marketing right early on lays the foundations for the future. He has been recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, being elected to the status of Fellow. With just over 30 years’ experience in various marketing roles, both agency and client side - many working alongside retailer networks across the UK – he has worked with brands such as Peugeot, Toyota, Chrysler, Jeep, Cineworld, JD Wetherspoon and SEAT. Also managed UK sponsorship campaigns with NFL UK and Tough Mudder for Jeep.