Growing your business is all about marketing. Sure, you need to offer a great product or provide spectacular service, but even those things are largely affected by marketing. Marketing is the stories we tell each other, and ourselves, about the work we are doing. So if the stories aren’t hitting home and your business isn’t growing, chances are your marketing isn’t working.
So what can you do about it? The good news is that you know the problem — it’s your marketing.
The bad news is that it’s going to take some effort to turn things around.
There’s no quick fix here, but that’s how marketing works.
It’s a slow burn. It’s drip by drip over time.
It’s connecting with one person at a time and leaving them with an amazing story to share. Little by little, drip by drip, things start to grow and grow and grow.
Why isn’t your marketing working as it should? I have some ideas and some things you can do to fix them.
Think about what you’re doing for your marketing right now. You might be blogging or advertising, doing webinars, sharing video, only using social media, or email marketing. Whatever channel or medium you’re using, there are common threads that apply. That’s what I’ve listed below, some of the common reasons why marketing just doesn’t hit home.
As you read through the list below, keep in mind that there’s usually not just one reason why your marketing isn’t working the way you’d like it to. Typically, it’s a combination of several things going on. Try to be objective about what’s working for you and what’s not.
Common reasons why your marketing isn’t working and how you can fix it
It’s all about you
One of the most common marketing mistakes I see is making everything all about you. You might be trying to convince people of how great you are, so you talk about your credentials, where you went to school, your experience, and on and on. This is not what your customers care about. They want to know how you can help them. How can you make their life better?
How to fix it: Make your customer the hero of the story you’re telling. Talk about all the good things they get when they choose to do business with you. Make it all about them. Show them that you understand their struggles, you feel their pain, and then show them the solution. You’re not the hero of the story, they are. Make sure they know it.
You’re not consistent
Marketing takes time. It takes time for people to get to know, like, and trust you. One mistake I see entrepreneurs make all the time is not being consistent. In the beginning, they’re super excited and so they start blogging once a week. This goes on for a little while but then they get busy and miss a week, and then it drops down to once a month, and then they’re only blogging once a year, and then they can’t figure out why their business isn’t growing.
How to fix it: Be consistent. It may not seem like much is happening at first, but stay the course. It takes time to gain traction with content marketing, but it’s the best way to grow your business. Come up with a posting schedule that works for you and stick with it. This is easier said than done, I get that, but for a solopreneurs, this is how we do our marketing, this is how we build our audience, this is how we grow our business.
You’re too focused on vanity metrics
Vanity metrics are those things we focus on that look good on paper but don’t really mean all that much. Vanity metrics are things like the number of page views you get on your website, how many people clicked on your ad, how many likes you have on your Facebook page, or how many Instagram followers you have. It’s very easy to get tricked into thinking that these vanity metrics are the goal you’re trying to reach.
How to fix it: Instead of focusing on vanity metrics focus on things like conversions – how many people actually purchased your thing, customer satisfaction, positive reviews, and word-of-mouth referrals. These are the things that will grow your business. It’s not about how many Twitter followers you have, it’s about being human, connecting with people, being generous, and building your tribe.
You’re talking to the wrong people
If your marketing isn’t working, one place to look is to the people you are actually talking to or trying to connect with. Many times, we are simply talking to the wrong people. Who’s your ideal client or customer? Where do you find more like them to connect with?
If your target market, your tribe, is 25-35-year-old women focused on fashion, you need to meet them where they are. And where they are is most likely Instagram and Pinterest. If you’re trying to build an audience of these women on Twitter, you’ll never get anywhere.
How to fix it: To make sure you’re talking to the right people, find out where your people hang out, and then meet them there. And once you’re there, speak their language, let them know that you get where they’re coming from. You just can’t build connections with the wrong people.
You’re not different enough
Another very common reason why your marketing isn’t working is that you’re not different enough. You just don’t stand out at all. What you’re doing is what everybody else is doing. Why should anyone choose you? When you’re not different enough, you don’t stand out, your marketing gets overlooked and ignored.
How to fix it: Be unique. Try to answer this question: I am the only ____ that _____. The first blank is what you do – chiropractor, pie shop, personal trainer. The second blank is your one big differentiator. It’s the one thing you do that no one else can claim. If you can’t think of anything you do that’s that different, you may have to do some soul-searching and figure it out.
You’re not taking a stand
If your marketing isn’t working, it may be because people don’t know what you stand for. In order for people to want to be associated with you and your brand, you have to stand for something. You have to show them what you believe in, what your values are. When you communicate what you stand for and what you believe in, you’ll start attracting the kinds of people that stand for those things too. People buy from you because they believe what you believe.
How to fix it: Write a brand manifesto and share it. Put it on your website. When you’re writing or speaking, have a point of view. Not everyone will agree with you, and that’s OK. “Everyone” is not your customer.
You don’t have a plan
I talk with entrepreneurs every day and when I ask them about their marketing strategy, I get a lot of blank stares. The typical marketing plan is “I do whatever I can when I have the time.” This is not a strategy. This is called flying by the seat of your pants. There are no long-term goals, so there are no short-term goals. If you want your marketing to work, you have to have a plan.
How to fix it: Make a plan. Start with setting S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). Plan out your marketing content well in advance. Set long-term goals and then each day you’ll know if you’re moving toward those goals or further away from them.
You’re not making good use of the tools available
Marketing can feel overwhelming, I totally get that. And that feeling of being overwhelmed is a big reason why your marketing doesn’t work. There’s so much to do, you don’t have the time, and so you end up doing nothing. The good news is that there are oodles of amazing tools out there all designed to help you with your marketing efforts.
How to fix it: You can start by creating a marketing calendar. This is a simple tool you can take advantage of for free right now. Next, you might want to spend a little money to automate some of your processes so you’re not feeling so overwhelmed. CoSchedule is a fantastic tool that I use every day and I highly recommend it. When you make use of some of the tools available you can focus your time and effort on creating helpful content for your people.
There’s no clear call to action
Let’s say you are a marketing rockstar. You are creating awesome, helpful content and sharing it consistently, you’re connecting with the right people and taking a stand, you’re radically different than your competitors, but your marketing is still not working. It could be that you simply have no clear call to action. Your people don’t know what they should do. You’re not directing them to your sales page or your signup form.
How to fix it: Every single piece of marketing you create should have one clear purpose, one goal, and one obvious call to action. It’s a ssimple as this: Tell your audience what you want them to do next. There should be a big bold button that says “Buy Now”, “Schedule an Appointment”, “Sign Up Here”, or whatever your call to action is. Your job is to not only show them that you’re the expert, but to guide them to your solution. Make it as easy as possible for them to take that action.
You’re not hustling enough
Sometimes your marketing isn’t working because you’re just not putting in the effort required to make things happen. It takes hustle. It takes showing up every day and putting in the effort. It takes time and it takes energy, and not everyone is willing to do whatever it takes.
How to fix it: Start hustling. Get out there and start shaking hands, meet people, creating a ton of great content, try new things, see what’s working, what’s not, measure your results, and then try something else. This is a lot of work! But if you want to grow your business, you have to get scrappy. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. If you’re naturally lazy or really enjoy procrastination, you may want to find another way to make your living.
You’re not motivated or excited about the work
Whoa. This is a big one. How excited are you about your work? Are you super motivated each day to get at it? Does your excitement show up in the work you do? If not, you may have to reevaluate why you became an entrepreneur in the first place. If you’re bored, your marketing will be boring and no one wants to be connected with boring.
How to fix it: If this is you, you need to figure this out now. Go back to your “why”. Why did you decide to start your business? What’s that fire inside you that made you want to be an entrepreneur? I have a sign hanging next to my desk and it says, “When you feel like quitting, think about why you started.” I read this every day. I think about my “why” every time things get tough, and it keeps me fired up, it keeps me going.
Get motivated, get excited about the work, or find something else to do. That’s always a viable option.
If your marketing isn’t working, it’s probably due to one or more of these common reasons:
- You’re making it all about you
- You’re not consistent in your marketing efforts
- You’re too focused on vanity metrics
- You’re not talking to the right people, not meeting them where they are
- You’re not different enough
- You don’t stand for anything
- You don’t have a plan
- You’re not taking advantage of the tools available
- There’s no clear call to action
- You’re not hustling enough
- You just aren’t excited about the work
What’s working or not working in your marketing? Share your thoughts in The Brand Sketch Community on Facebook.