Monday, June 30, 2014
Why Marketing Efforts Fail
A lot of new clients come to me limping on one leg and questioning whether any of this "marketing stuff" is going to drive revenue. They've been fed a steady appetite of excuses by former agencies that tried and failed. Many clients have tried to go it alone and then circle back around to hiring an agency after realizing that there's just too much to learn. On one hand, companies like Facebook and Google make it really easy to do marketing without having to interface with some professional who will charge you for that expertise. On the other hand, these same companies prey on those who don't understand the complexities of how to make their platforms work optimally. To use an analogy, we all have the option of changing the oil to our own vehicles. After all, oil and oil filters are easily available, yet very few people opt to do it themselves. Why? Because the risks of doing it wrong outweigh the benefits of doing it right. The same is true of digital marketing - well, at least some of it is.
Writing your own blog is easier than changing your own oil. Running an optimized PPC campaign is much harder. Building a website is easy. Making it a destination that converts visitors into prospective customers is hard. Some things are easy - some things are hard. It all really depends on your access to those talents and whether they need to be brought in-house or outsourced. You can even divide a project into pieces, determining which parts you'll need marketing expertise on. The digital marketing landscape changes daily and it's impossible to master it all...not on your own. I've been immersed in marketing for the past 25+ years and there are plenty of skills that I've had no time to master. I know plenty, but "mastering" them is a different level of measurement. I surround myself with talent because I need for my firm to perform. I suggest you take the same route. I advise clients to take on the campaign elements that they've mastered (business model, channel mapping, competitor analysis, message identification, etc.). These are all very essential pieces to a successful campaign. Rather that spinning wheels on building a website, it would be a far better use of resources to develop the content that resides on that website. Today, everyone's a marketer - the good, the bad and the ugly...the people with tiny budgets...companies with an armored car full of marketing dollars. In short, it's a noisy world. In 1975, the average consumer saw 700 branded messages a day. Today, that number is 5,000! What's the likelihood that you'll be able to outshout the market? What the likelihood that you'll be able to sustain that same feat every day for the life of your marketing efforts?
So why do marketing efforts fail, can we get to the bottom of this? Here it is. Marketing efforts fail because they are optimistic and full of hope rather than strategic and full of supporting data. We all have to swordfight competitors in a noisy market - more accurately stated, chopping trees. Abraham Lincoln famously said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." There are plenty of ways to market, and yet, only a few that will efficiently accomplish the task. It all starts with two simple tasks - finding an accomplished marketer to help you write a marketing plan and writing a marketing plan. Without a marketing plan, you're simply swinging at trees in hopes that they'll fall. Google and Facebook have no problem taking your advertising dollars - the less you know, the happier they are. Ever notice that the support tools and help pages are lengthy and complex? Yeah, now you know why - this stuff is hard. Anything easy isn't worth having. And, guess what? Everyone is a marketer. Everyone thinks it's easy. But not everyone is just blindly spending ad dollars, mucking up the waters and making it harder for you to be successful in reaching your target market. Still, there are a lot out there and the task is massive.
Eventually, blind push marketing won't be able to survive, as budgets aren't infinite. Don't get caught by the web that is "tactical" marketing - focus on strategic marketing. There's some upfront work that isn't always so fun and creative, but the long-term payoff is huge. The results are being able to definitely connect your marketing efforts to results and a budget that will travel further than you ever imagined. Now, go sharpen that axe.