Why isn’t my marketing working?

Q & A by C.J. HaydenThat’s really the million dollar question, isn’t it? If only you knew why your marketing efforts weren’t paying off, you could change what you were doing, and start seeing better results. In a recent article, I wrote about the five most common marketing saboteurs. I’ve listed them below, and you can read more in Not Enough Clients? What’s In Your Way?

  1. Not enough hands-on marketing time
  2. Poorly-defined target market
  3. Vague, generic, or misleading marketing messages
  4. Inadequate follow-through
  5. Off-target or ineffective marketing approaches

If you can identify what’s wrong, you’ll have a much better chance of being able to fix it. But how do you know which of these problems might be yours? Here are some suggested ways to start finding out:

  • Track time, money, and results. Begin keeping track of exactly what you’re doing about marketing. How much time are you spending? How much money? What marketing approaches are you using? How many people are you contacting? Then look at what results your marketing is producing. How many new prospects are appearing in your marketing pipeline? How many sales are resulting? What are the dollar amounts of those sales? The more specific you are about what you are doing and what results you are seeing, the smarter you will become about what is and isn’t working in your marketing.
  • Get feedback. It’s hard to see your own marketing clearly. Ask a friend, colleague, coach, or consultant to look at your marketing and tell you what they see. Do they understand your marketing messages? Can they clearly identify your target market? Does your marketing appear to be consistent and persistent? Share your tracking information with some of these people and ask them what they think about how much time and money you’re spending compared to the results you’re getting. Outside perspectives can be invaluable in seeing your marketing as it truly is.
  • Compare yourself to others. Comparing your effort and results to that of other people can be tricky, but can also be very educational. Ask people in similar professions or with a similar target market what works for them in marketing. You’ll typically get more useful guidance from people who have achieved some success rather than those who are still struggling. But be sure to ask what worked for them when they were at the same place in their business where you currently are. The behavior you want to model is what helped them stop struggling and start succeeding, which may not be the same as what they do now.
  • Pay attention to what’s working. Instead of looking only at what’s wrong; look carefully at what may be right. If you only have a few clients, where did they come from? Can you spend more time in those places or doing those things? What do your best clients have in common that may shed some light on your ideal target market? What attracted those clients to you, and can you feature whatever that was more strongly? Identifying what worked for you in the past may be the key to seeing what isn’t working now.
  • Create more accountability. Being accountable to another person can help with more than getting things done. The very act of “accounting” for what you have done and what happened as a result creates a level of scrutiny and honesty that is difficult to duplicate all on your own. Consider working with a coach, business buddy, or success team who will require you to report regularly on your marketing activities and progress. Putting your marketing under a microscope in this way may quickly expose its possible flaws.
  • Do more with less. If you’ve been in the habit of using many different marketing approaches simultaneously, this can make it very difficult to pinpoint what is and isn’t working. You may not be able to determine exactly where your prospects or clients are coming from. Or you may not be sure whether your problems lie in what you are doing or how you are doing it. Try cutting back, not on the time and effort you put into marketing, but on the number of different ways you go about doing it. Engaging in fewer activities, but putting more effort into each one, will create a clearer picture of what is and isn’t effective. And, it may have a beneficial effect on your marketing in and of itself.

Try on one or more of these approaches to discover what isn’t working about your marketing. Once you can see what’s going wrong, you’ll have a much better idea of how to put it right.

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