Effective marketing isn’t just a problem for small businesses. Large companies often struggle to get their marketing efforts to deliver measurable results. Why is it that no matter what marketing you’re doing, you’re not seeing results? There are a few reasons why your marketing isn’t working.

marketing planYou didn’t start with a plan

You wouldn’t build a house without a set of blueprints, would you?  Would you start a business without a business plan?  How about taking a road trip vacation without a map or GPS?  So why do you think it’d be OK to “start marketing” without a plan and expect to see results?  Before you start any kind of marketing effort, you need a marketing strategy. Most businesses, when they hear the word “marketing strategy” they envision a lengthy report with lots of great ideas and few tactics. It ends up being another nicely bound document or PowerPoint to add the collection, but that’s a big mistake. You need a plan that looks at your current business, your ultimate business goals, a comprehensive review of your industry, an in-depth look at your competitors, and your ideal target audience. This is not a one-and-done plan, either. Small businesses should revisit their marketing strategy at least twice a year to see if they’re on track, and make adjustments as necessary. Have the plan, work the plan.

You understand the numbers but forgot the people

Sure, there are many items you need to keep in mind as you create and execute a marketing strategy. Target audience, ideal clients and host of other demographic information. All of them are very helpful, but don’t forget:  Your customers aren’t demographics. They’re not age ranges. They’re not job titles, or geographical regions, or salary brackets. They’re human beings. At some point, you need to make a human connection for your marketing to be effective. You need to know what their pain points are, what they’re struggling with, where they are so you can reach them, and find out what questions they have so you can answer them. Talk to your current customers and really understand why they bought from you, and why they’re still customers. Ask your prospects why they reached out. Get their story. Make that human connection.

More is not better in marketing

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to about their marketing who have “tried everything, and nothing works!”  Know why that is?  Because they tried EVERYTHING!  It’s that whole throw something against the wall and see what sticks tactic. It’s a waste of resources and a waste of money. No one company can do everything well, regardless of your resources. Try a few, targeted, well thought out tactics (based on that strategy you created) and measure, measure, measure. Is it working?  Getting more traffic, more lead and more business? No?  Then move away from tactics that don’t work and try something different, don’t simply pile on efforts and hope more is better.  Staff stretched thin?  Outsource your marketing to a marketing professional. Leverage their expertise to do the right kind of marketing for you and get the results you’re looking for.

You didn’t invest in good systems and processessystems

Understandably, not every small business owner can invest in full-blown marketing automation out of the gate but there are some great systems out there to help you organize your marketing efforts. There are several out there that can help get you started on that path. Check out Entrepreneur’s list of  5 Top Marketing Automation Tools for SMBs. Can’t afford to pay for a full system yet?  Check out HubSpot CRM; it’s FREE and will help you get your sales and marketing efforts organized. As you grow, you can move over to other systems if needed, but invest in good processes to keep things organized from the onset.

You’re too dependent on one mode of marketing

Here is another reason why your marketing isn’t working:  you’re too dependent on one mode. Digital marketing has made huge strides and continues to do so. It opens up opportunities for exposure and measurement that small businesses didn’t always have, but don’t think traditional marketing is dead. Print still works. Print is not going away any time soon. Press releases are still effective. Promotional items still connect people to your brand. Make sure you’re not boxing yourself in to just digital marketing. Depending on your audience, there is great opportunity to connect in other avenues as well.

If you’re wondering why your marketing isn’t working, take a second look at the items above and look at your efforts with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

Patty Hughes
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