Why isn’t my marketing working?

The question I’ve heard most during my 30 or so years in the marketing industry is … ‘Why isn’t my marketing working?’ Is that a question you’ve asked recently? If yes, then I guess the scenario is not enough traffic to your website, the phone isn’t ringing enough, and not enough people are buying?

You’re thinking what am I doing wrong? Is it COVID stopping people buying? Don’t they like me anymore? The truth is it could be any number of reasons … now I’ll use that great phrase from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” … DON’T PANIC!

Marketing is probably the biggest issue for people running or starting small businesses mostly due to their marketing strategies being poorly thought out and not delivering the results they expect, or indeed not having a marketing strategy at all.

They are also probably doing ad hoc advertising, jumping straight into low-cost (or no-cost) tactical activities. Hence common responses have been: “I’ve placed some ads but had no response.” They are not measuring it in any way and think their efforts and money invested is not delivering footfall, enquiries or sales they need, but how do they know? That approach will never work well.

A common error made by many is that there is some kind of ‘one-size-fits-all’ marketing strategy that you can follow and expect great results, whatever your business. This is simply not true, since all businesses are different, and all have different requirements.

There could be some easy solutions by checking through some common things you may have overlooked that you can do to help put your marketing back on track, leading to increased website traffic, get that phone ringing and customers buying again.

This does require taking a little time out and doing some thinking about you and your business. And most importantly what you ‘know’!

Here’s some questions to you to ask yourself:

Do you know your ‘why’?

This might seem a bit of a strange question to start with, but many people go into business and don’t really understand all the reasons why or what their motivation is – what gets them up in the morning – but this underpins you and your business.

If you don’t know your ‘why’ and what makes you tick, no one else will. When you know and understand your values and your ‘why’, your genuineness will glow like a warm fire and customers will understand you, your business and want to buy from you.

Do you know your audience?

I always ask new and existing clients ‘who are your customers?’ Sometimes I’m told ‘I don’t know’ or they say ‘everyone’ … but that’s not right is it? Understanding who your best customers are is a basic aspect of successful marketing.

Try to put together some sort of pen portrait of a few customers to understand their lifestyles, what they enjoy, their media consumption (TV, print or online, etc), brands they might aspire to and so on. This will help with your marketing message and product positioning by showing how the product or service helps to make their daily lives better and easier.

Do you know your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?

So, what’s unique? There are loads of other people offering the same service as you. Simple … the unique thing is YOU … as the way you are with customers defines the experience they have when buying from you and whether they buy again and tell their friends and family how brilliant you are. With products or services you sell be specific about the benefits. What the product or service advantages are and how it will make the customer’s life better and indeed easier.

Do you know your story?

Your marketing should ‘tell a story’. After all, stories trigger emotion and emotion triggers action. Think about books you’ve read or movies you’ve seen when you were growing up – you probably still remember them, right? So, think about what you do and put together your ‘brand’ story with messages that grab the attention which will help increase your customers, encourage loyalty, so you and your brand can grow. Don’t dismiss the importance of this. Consider what makes your customers feel good about their purchase from you?

Do you know your customer journey?

You need to look at your business from the point of view of a customer. Would you be happy with everything in that respect? How often do you ‘speak’ to your customers? What do you say to them (message) and how do you say it (tone)? How well do you follow up queries and information requests? Can a customer find how to contact you easily? If you’re thinking ‘how can I remember all this every time I communicate with a customer’, you don’t have to, as depending on the size and nature of your business, there are many technological solutions to help you improve the experience and relationship you have with your customers.

Do you know your marketing objectives?

This helps set your marketing strategy. Where are you and your business heading? If you don’t know now, how will you know when you get there? Are you are doing the right marketing? Is it helping you and moving your business forward? Do you have a marketing plan (quarterly and annual) and do you review it regularly? There are simple ways to help you plan for marketing success without taking up all your time.

Do you know it’s not all about ‘me’!

Let’s be honest. You can talk about you and your business all day – it’s exciting and it’s yours! But shouldn’t you find out about what the customer needs, as they will help you achieve the success you crave?

Call in an expert to help

If you don’t have the time or resources to do all this, then enlist the help of a marketing expert.

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.