8 reasons why your marketing doesn’t work

cricket   photo by azrainman

Marketing is the lifeblood of any business – without marketing that works, you’re left wondering where everyone went, with the crickets chirping in the background.

I’ve said it before – whatever business you’re in, you are also in the business of marketing, or you won’t be in business for long – especially these days.  Unfortunately, a lot of business owners don’t really get marketing – maybe they’ll occasionally throw some money at it – buy some advertising and hope it all works out.  But they don’t make it a core process of their business.

Maybe that worked 10 or 15 years ago, but with the explosion of competition, messages and media everywhere, it won’t work today.

Here are 8 reasons why your marketing isn’t working (and why you’re hearing crickets when you’d rather be hearing paying customers)!

Odds are that not all of these apply to you, but if more than one or two of them do then you need to carve out some time to fix some things (or get some help!):

It’s all about you!

Established in 1923!  Located at the corner of 10th and Main!  Using our proprietary process, we deliver results!  We train our people extensively and use only the finest components to create great products!

I hate to break it to you, but your prospective customers don’t care about you and if you create marketing materials that are all about you…they won’t care about that either.  What do they care about?  Your prospective customers care about their problems…and more specifically solutions to their problems.

Try this:  Check out one of your marketing pieces – your website, a brochure, whatever and use a red pen and circle anything that refers to your company (usually starts with We, Our, company name).  Now use a blue pen and circle anything that refers to solving your customer’s pain (usually starts with You, You’re, Our customers).  The Blue should outweigh the Red substantially – if not, talk to your customers and start learning why they work with you and talk about those things!

You’re boring and you look like everyone else

Well maybe you personally aren’t boring, but your marketing is.  Sadly a lot of business owners will look at around at what their competitors are doing and just do the same thing.  If your message and approach are a lot like everyone else, you are throwing away your money, plain and simple.

There are a lot of ways to stand out – lighten up a little and have some fun with it.  Find or create an angle on what you do that’s different – think Gates BBQ and their signature “Hi May I help you?”.  If you really don’t have anything you do that’s different in any way than your competition, then you’re just competing on price, which is going to be a losing proposition.

Here’s an example of a basic business that has a unique approach – it’s not boring and you will remember it:  Check out Cullman Liquidation Center (funniest commercial I’ve seen in a long time).  How could you stand out – at least a little?

You believe your customer is anyone who fogs a mirror

I hear this all the time from business owners:  “We sell to anyone who has money” – “Everyone can use what we sell”.

If you’re trying to sell to everyone you are going to fail.  Let’s flip this around, let’s say that you are trying to solve a problem and you’re willing to spend some money to do it.  Do you go with the vendor who sells a product that works for everyone?  Or would you be more interested in the vendor who specializes in working with people just like you?

Odds are, if it’s a problem you really want to solve, you’d be willing to pay a premium for the solution that’s tailored to your problem as opposed to the one size fits all.  Don’t you think your customers would feel the same?

You can’t be found online

Go to google and do a search on your name.  Now do a search on your business name.  Finally do a search on a likely way that people are going to try and find you if they don’t know who you are – for me that’s a search for Kansas City Business Coach, for you, it might be about the problem you solve or some other niche keyword.

If you and your business name don’t come up in the first 5 or 6 results for those searches, you have a serious problem (obviously if you don’t have a website you have an even more serious problem).

David Meerman Scott – author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR , does a great job of illustrating why it’s so important to be online in his Keynote Speech at the Business Marketing Association conference last year (check out the first 2 minutes of this video).  Where are you spending your marketing efforts?

You don’t have a compelling offer

In a lot of cases, there might not be any offer at all.  If you are actively trying to market your business, you must include an offer…a call to action…give them a clear next step.  If your marketing just tells people you’re great and you’ve been around for 20 years, it’s a waste of time and money.

Assuming you have an offer – it needs to be compelling.  You should have an Overt Benefit that appeals to your target market.  Fed Ex knocked it out of the park when they shared their benefit of “When it absolutely has to be there overnight”.  On top of a clear next step and a clear benefit, you also need to generate a sense of urgency – “space is limited, call today!”, “Offer ends at the end of the month – sign up now!”.

Take a look at what you’re currently offering in your marketing?  Is it compelling?

You don’t follow-up

I see a lot of business owners doing the hard work of marketing and then stopping just short of where they will start seeing the payoff.

How many times have you gone to a networking event and connected with a few people who could be good referral partners or good prospects but you never took the next step with them and followed up for another meeting?  I know business owners who have received leads and referrals but are too busy to follow-up on them…they slow down in a couple of weeks, but by then the potential customers have moved on.

Do you have a systematic process for making sure that you follow-up on opportunities and nothing falls through the cracks?

You’re not taking advantage of all the tools that are out there

Social networking is no longer the fringe new kid on the block.  Facebook has over 400 Million people with profiles.  LinkedIn has over 60 Million users and a majority of those are listed as executives or business owners.  People are spending more time online with social media than anywhere else.  Social Media isn’t a silver bullet for marketing, but if you don’t have some sort of presence – if you’re not participating at all, then you’re seriously missing the boat.

Email marketing isn’t new, but I talk to business owners all the time who don’t use it, despite the fact that it has the highest ROI (return on investment) of any direct marketing tactic.

Blogging has been around for at least 10 years and has also become much more mainstream when it comes to being an effective business marketing tactic.  However most smaller business owners haven’t made that leap despite all of the benefits that blogging can bring to them.

What tools could you use that you’re currently not considering?

You’re not focusing on your current customers

I imagine everyone has heard a variation on the idea that it costs 5X to 7X as much to acquire a new customer as compared to retaining an existing customer.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t translate to very many tangible programs or efforts towards really rewarding your existing customers.

Here’s a quick summary of why it’s important that you focus 50% or more of your efforts towards existing customers.

  • Your best chance of making a new sale is selling to someone who’s already happy with you as a customer.
  • Your best chance of getting a great referral is from someone who really knows how you work and the benefits you deliver.
  • Your best chance of not losing ongoing revenue from a customer is to keep them happy.

Not losing $10,000 in revenue is the same as adding $10,000 in new revenue and likely a lot easier to do.

How much time and focus do you spend on your current customers?

Is your marketing succeeding?

Where do you stand on all of these areas with your marketing?  Are there some key things I missed?  Are you making marketing a real priority for your business?  Are you tracking results (and improving as you go)?  I’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below or let me know if you thought this post was helpful.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

2 thoughts on “8 reasons why your marketing doesn’t work”

  1. seans007 says:

    Shawn: While I enjoy all of your posts, this one was both timely and spot on. Great job! I couldn't agree more with you … Marketing is vastly misunderstood, and if done correctly can result in significant revenue growth. Thanks!

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