Updated: Mar 24, 2019
As of the writing of this article it’s been close to 12 years since I’ve been in Marketing.
I remember the first time I discovered how much I love it when I bought a book on Marketing and read it cover to cover. It’s the first time I ever read a book to completion which was a big deal for me since I hated reading back then.
That’s when I knew I would spend the rest of my life doing Marketing.
I’ve spent a lot of time obsessively analyzing how marketing is done by B2B and B2C brands. Whether locally, regionally or internationally, whether Startup or large enterprise, whether products or services.
I’ve also spent a lot of time analyzing marketing I’ve done for my own clients and personally projects over the years. What worked and didn’t work, but more importantly Why.
Some people go to the beach, I study and analyze marketing campaigns, trends, and data.
Why Your Marketing Isn’t Working
Marketing tends to fail for many brands because they are more focused on selling their product/service, than caring about the needs and wants of the customer. Even those who claim to be customer-centric fall into this trap.
I’m not pointing fingers, it’s a mistake I’ve made as well.
However, I quickly learned that the best way to make marketing more effective is by thinking like a customer, not like a Marketer, Business owner, or Salesperson.
From observation and experience here are the 10 reasons I have come across why marketing tends to fail to deliver results.
1. You Have No Strategy
For clarity let me define what I mean by strategy. In this sense I mean a step-by-step detailed and documented approach to how you are going to achieve the business goals that you have set.
According to Content Marketing Institute 65% of B2B companies who has a documented marketing strategy see the highest level of success with their marketing. While those who did not saw little to no success.
Separately, 33% of B2C companies actually have a documented marketing strategy.
Unfortunately, I’ve found that many companies tend to wing it when it comes to marketing. There isn’t much thought that goes behind it.
The idea is we have a product/service, let’s pay for newspaper, TV, radio, and Social Media ads and push our message to the masses and people will come and buy.
There isn’t much intention behind it. There isn’t a systematic process as to what happens next to ensure maximized ROI for every marketing spend.
Your strategy acts as a guide or map to help you keep on track and moving towards your end goal, rather than you being lost to what your next step is.
2. No clearly defined end goal
Saying you want to increase revenue or brand awareness isn’t a defined goal. A goal is something that is specific, measurable, and has a time it is expected to be achieved.
This allows you to better track your progress, and to know how near or far you are to achieving your goal.
It also allows you to break down the goal into milestones on a quarterly, monthly or weekly basis to know how much effort and resources will need to go into executing the marketing strategy to accomplish the goal.
Not having a clearly defined goal means you have no direction, you don’t know where you’re going because you don’t know what the end will look like.
It also means you don’t know what you should invest in when it comes to your marketing.
Therefore, your marketing becomes very random and sporadic, rather than intentional and purposeful to what will drive business growth for the company.
3. Focusing on the wrong things [superficial metrics]
Social Media has become the most popular form of marketing today. Unfortunately, Social Media has also given marketers justification to report on metrics that has no real impact on the growth of the business.
Telling your boss or client that you increased their Social Media following on Facebook or Instagram, or that the content you posted got a lot of Likes and Comments is almost irrelevant (I say almost).
The problem is when those metrics become the goal in and of itself, rather than how those metrics can be used as an indicator to eventually translate into business growth.
Most brands struggle with, that is, no clear way to make the connection to Social Media and how it drives business results.
It’s not that these metrics don’t have their purpose. However, their purpose should be to use them as a way to gauge what type of content your audience seems most interested in, so you know how to edit your website, marketing, and sales materials to speak to them, and get them to take action to convert.
It should be used as a feedback mechanism to know the pain points and challenges of your target audience, what speaks to them, and using that feedback as a way to improve your marketing and targeting approach.
Go beyond simply engagement to data analysis and mining.
4. Not measuring and improving
This next point goes hand in hand with the last.
Most brands don’t take the time to measure and use data to improve their efforts. Sure you may say that you do, but the real proof is in your actions not words.
I tend to see that most companies don’t measure, they don’t look to know if the type of marketing that they are executing is working.
Even if it is working you should still be measuring to see how well it is working. A 2-3% conversion rate can easily be improved to a 5-10% if you know what is causing some customers not to convert at each stage of their Buying Process.
5. Targeting the wrong people
When I say targeting the wrong people I mean that you are trying to sell your product/service to a customer base that has no need or want for it.
The problem here lies when we have a predefined idea in our heads of who our ideal customer should be. Truth is you’re not going to know who your ideal customer is starting out. That can only be uncovered through feedback and data once the product is out there.
The fact of the matter is who you think is your customer may not be your customer. Your customer may be who you least expect.
That’s why it’s important to have an open mind to the market. It is also where data comes in handy.
Look at who are the types of people that usually visit your stores or on your website. Look at your Social Media to see not only who engages but who are the ones asking questions about your business, product and service.
What do they look like, what do they do, where are they from, what questions are mostly being asked.
Find a way to gather this data, then through analysis you can identify patterns that lets you know who your actually customers are versus who you want them to be.
6. Not researching audience
This one is a major problem. I can’t even begin to describe in words the magnitude of this problem.
It’s surprising and disheartening to see that so many companies tend to execute marketing programs without even taking the time to deeply research their customers.
These programs are created in boardrooms based on assumptions and gut feelings and not research.
Another problem is most companies outsource to third party market research firms, which to be honest is a waste of time and money.
You’re likely to get more credible insight by simply paying attention to your customer behaviours or simply asking them basic questions to really know what they want.
I think a part of the problem is an egotistical mindset most of us as marketers and business owners tend to have. We believe we should define what our customers want and they should buy it.
To add insult to injury is when they don’t buy and we get annoyed at why they aren’t.
If you’re trying to get someone to buy into what you’re offering at least take the time to find out what they want and give them that. It will make things a lot easier for you.
7. Going off gut feeling rather than data
This is another huge problem I’ve noticed, especially in the Caribbean.
Here’s the thing, in today’s very digital, data driven world you have no excuse as to why you’re choosing to go off what your gut says rather than what the data shows, and when I say data I mean your data.
Your marketing isn’t working because you have no basis for why you’re doing what you’re doing.
It reminds me of recently when our team executed a marketing campaign. Someone on the team suggested that Instagram Stories would be a good place to place ads. I disagreed and thought it would be a waste of time.
Though I disagreed I still decided to run ads through Stories and test it.
After a few weeks the data from Google Analytics showed that Instagram Stories accounted for the second largest driver of traffic back to the website.
In this instance I was wrong, my gut feeling was wrong, and there was the data to prove it. I had to accept it and move ahead to implement an Instagram Stories ad strategy, which saw an increase in sales as a result.
Truth is no one cares about gut feelings. Be humble enough to get out of your own way and let the data direct you. If you’re able to do that then you will start to see an improvement in the results you have.
8. No end-to-end integrated marketing to sales process
Everything about your marketing has to be interconnected and integrated. This allows for not only consistency in your messaging, but also to have a layout of what must happen next in your customer’s Buying Process.
The challenge here is that a lot of companies focus on Brand Awareness. Every single marketing spend seems to revolve around Brand Awareness and getting more eyes on who you are and what you do.
It’s not that anything is bad about that because it’s needed, it’s the first step. The problem is once you have Brand Awareness then what? What happens next?
If you don’t have the answer to that question herein lies the problem of why your marketing isn’t working.
There has to exist a process not just a moment. Brand Awareness, whether from an ad, a trade show, or billboard is a moment, here only for a second.
A process is knowing once people see your brand and what you have to offer there is a step that exists after. Once that second step is complete there is a third step.
The purpose of each step is to move your audience from not knowing about who you are to eventually becoming a customer.
For most this doesn’t exist, and therefore why there is a disconnect between Brand Awareness and how it ultimately drives business results.
9. Focusing too much on selling and not helping
It’s important to understand the mindset and buying behaviours of your customers today versus 20-30 years ago.
Selling effectively is no longer about being a fast talker who is good with words and can sell ice to an eskimo.
Your customers have evolved and so your selling, by extension your marketing, has to evolve with them.
Today selling and marketing is more about helping. It’s about how your brand, product/service helps your customer solve a problem, and not about all the features and benefits it has (they don’t care).
Your marketing isn’t working because customers can smell your sales pitch a mile away. They are easily uninterested and disengaged from brands that focus on just pushing their product/service for profit rather than how it helps them.
10. Focusing on quantity rather than quality
There are two ways you can look at this as to why your marketing isn’t working when you choose quantity over quality.
The first is specific to Social Media. It goes back to what was mentioned earlier about focus on metrics for the wrong reason.
Sure you can say you have a lot of followers, but how much of them are even interested in what you’re selling?
It’s better to have a small focused audience, where even if they’re not interested to buy now, they will likely buy some time in the future.
It’s pointless to be a B2B company and yet have mostly university students engaging your page.
The second is in relation to your target customers.
Trying to be all things to all people doesn’t work. In other words thinking your product/service is for everyone. Even if that may be true you spread yourself too thin by trying to appeal to everyone. This only leads to you appealing to no one.
In marketing, branding and messaging matters, and not every type of audience responds the same way to the same message.
By focusing your marketing on a specific, narrowed audience, it allows you to be more effective with your marketing, thus maximizing the ROI for your marketing spend.
My Final Thoughts
It’s easy for Marketers and Business Owners to blame why their marketing isn’t working on things such as lack of budget, insufficient resources, or bottlenecks from management.
Though that may be true, in today’s digital marketing space they are no longer major hindrances to success.
I can speak from personal experience as I have executed successful marketing strategies and campaigns with practically no budget.
Furthermore, in order for you to get buy-in from management to support your marketing you have to translate your efforts in to things they care about, which is revenue growth, not Likes and Shares.
What are your thoughts on this list? Do you agree or disagree? (comment using Facebook comment box)
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