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Seven reasons why your marketing isn’t working

Jeff Loehr

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Seven reasons why your marketing isn’t working

Every business or professional practice is involved in marketing in one form or another.  If not, you won’t have clients.

The challenge for most businesses or practices is to market the business on purpose and effectiveness.

Most companies are not getting the results they need from marketing, they are often taking many actions, but don’t see the results.

So, marketing feels like another expense to bear.

Marketing should be an investment, not an expense.  You should be able to assess how much you are spending or how much effort you are exerting and the return it generates.

Some marketing is long term, and some marketing is short term: it should all deliver business.

If you are not sure about your marketing here are seven reasons your marketing may not be working.

Reason 1: You don’t have a plan

There are many moving pieces in marketing. Good marketing is a balance between communication, balancing the funnel and creating useful products.  The process of taking a prospect from not knowing you to becoming your customer requires a well thought through plan and a consistent approach.

Marketing also requires time.  There are short term things that you can do, but you must also deliver and build on what you do over time.  Consistency requires a plan.

Without a plan you make things up as you go along, which almost guarantees that you will waste time, money and effort.

Reason 2: You don’t know your customer, you haven’t defined a target audience

The most common customer definition is “everybody,” the second most common is something expansive and non-descriptive such as “CPA’s” or “medium-sized businesses.”

For your marketing to work, you must get more specific.  People buy, not companies or industries.  To sell to people, you have to know them, what they care about, what they worry about and what they need.

Ironically, the more narrowly you define your customer, the broader your market becomes because people can quickly identify themselves as your customer.

Reason 3: You don’t understand the target audience’s issues and how they buy

Most marketing focuses on what you do.  It explains and clarifies how you solve the problem.  The problem is that your prospect is not interested in your solution until they connect with you around the issue.

Note that not understanding your customers’ issues is different from not knowing your customer. Knowing your customer is more personal – it requires understanding their life.

Knowing their issues and how they buy is about the problem you solve for them.

Understanding their issues is the most critical aspect of your marketing strategy.  You MUST speak to your customer (as you have defined them above) and what is missing for them.  We say that they live in one world, you live in another and they will do no work to understand your world.  If they don’t do the work, you must.

Your marketing must appeal to your prospects on a core, reptilian brain, emotional level, which is all about them. Once you have shown them that you understand their problem in their world, they will ask how you solve the problem. Only then can you get into the solution.

Part of understanding your customer is to comprehend how they buy.  If your target market finds information in a newspaper and you are advertising on Facebook, they will never see you.  How do they use your website to find information about you?  What questions need answering before they can buy?

These are all key to the buying decision.  

Reason 4: You are doing a lot of work but not producing results

Marketing should be an investment; it should deliver results.  Which means if your marketing efforts are not generating sales results then they are not working.

Often companies are lulled into confidence generated by effort.

There is an allure to just being busy.

One of the risks of marketing today is that the channels we have generate their dopamine rewards internally: you can garner attention through followers, likes, and pings of one sort or another, and feel great about it, without any of it leading to business.

There is also an active cultural element to this.  “Effort” is immediately visible, so it tends to be the thing leaders reward. The opportunity is to shift this to a focus on results.

Reason 5: Bad Data or Inaccessible Information

Ultimately the real measure of whether your marketing is working, the only one that truly matters, is the business it brings in. So, measurement is key to effective marketing.  However, we often meet with clients who do not have access to useful data.

You can’t measure if you don’t have the right data or don’t have accessible information.

Nobody suffers from a lack of data – you can measure a dizzying array of marketing related metrics.  The problem is that too often the data are locked in systems and difficult to access, or the data are wrong because they are incomplete or siloed inappropriately.

Reason 6: You can’t measure efficacy or success

Your marketing isn’t working if you can’t measure how effective it is, or if you don’t know whether it is generating results.

This starts with having good data, but data by itself isn’t helpful.  You need to turn that data into actionable information.

Marketing is a business activity, an investment in growth and you put real money behind it.  So, you must know if it is working.  If you don’t know, then it isn’t working.  It is that simple.

Reason 7: You treat marketing as an expense, not an investment.

Marketing must be an investment in growth, building your client base and engaging with your customers. If you don’t have a handle on what you are doing and the results your actions are driving, you are just wasting your time and money.

Too often though companies treat marketing as an expense or a necessary evil, marketing is something they must do not something that generates a return.

To get more from your marketing treat it as an investment

In the end, this is about demanding more from your marketing. You should insist on results. You should measure your return on investment, and you should ensure that whatever money you are putting into marketing is delivering a result.

Fortunately, the fixes don’t have to be complicated.  Often less marketing done well will have a better impact than trying everything and seeing what sticks.

Remember that the objective with marketing is to build a relationship, establish trust and relevance so that people will buy from you.  Structure your marketing so that it delivers.

Read more about the symptoms of poor marketing and how to fix it, here. 

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