We often take on clients who think that their marketing is not working. It’s not doing what it’s supposed to do which fundamentally is to generate more sales and more business.

Sometimes this is because they are not measuring the results and so, oddly, don’t realise that it is working. When clients have been receiving new contacts and enquiries but don’t know where they came from – well, they probably came from the marketing!

However, attribution back to specific ads or specific campaigns is not always possible. Remember that even in a retail ecommerce brand, where you can trace sales directly back to the Google ad that delivered the customer to them site, the Google ad on its own did not sell the product. It is a combination of the site, the brand, the product, the way you talk about it, how frictionless the process is, the price, the reviews they see, the recommendations they get, the ten other ads they have seen that put your name in their heads and the social media they check out while they are on the site – all of which go together to make that single Google ad get someone to buy at that particular time.

When it comes to business to business, it’s not even that straightforward. Generally, we have to accept that getting contacts from people we don’t know, or who haven’t been recommended to us, happens as a result of the overall marketing efforts.

Nevertheless, sometimes it isn’t working at all, or at least not working as well as it should.

So, if you are measuring and can see that your marketing isn’t working, it’s usually because of some permutation of the following 5 factors.

  • Your product is not fit for market.

Now this is a hard one to accept – but sometimes what you are trying to sell is just not right for the market. You may have spent years developing a great idea that you really believe in – but spending years on something doesn’t make it fit for market. Plenty of research shows that 80% of products and ideas fail, even when they are developed and delivered by competent people. Your price could be too high or too low, so how did you arrive at it? Your finance offering might not be right. Your basic idea might not be good enough – or what was right 6 years ago might not be right now.

We can test the products by hypothesising with a simple equation – will X number of people out of Y number of people do Z?  So, for example, will 10 people shown our product at a county fair buy it? Will 100 people in every 1000 who visit our website give us their email address?

At this point we tend to ask the fundamental question of what is your pricing strategy and how did you arrive at your price?

  • The way you present your product is wrong.

This is easier to review by looking at the images, the language, the friction on the site, the way you talk about your products, the brand, the look and feel. Is it right for you, right for your product and most important, right for your customer?

So, we get people to complete the ‘people come to us when’ test. We ask, ‘people come to us when they need X, and we do Y so they can do Z’ and then assess their presentation against that.

Next, we do the ‘hedgehog’ test and ask what are you good at, what is the one thing you are excellent at, what is the one reason people buy from you, and do you show that focus in your presentations?

  • Your targeting is wrong.

If you’re targeting the wrong people, then your marketing will never work. We tend to look at who your customer is, ask what your ideal customer is, and find them. From there you pick people up on the periphery. You start tight then slowly and carefully work your way out.

Often people’s PPC has become so complex that they can’t actually work out who they are really targeting with which message so one good technique is the’ smallest viable audience’ test.

For this, you work out the minimum number of people you need to buy, to make your business work. Who are they, what are they, where are they, what do they do and what do they like? And then target them, and them alone,

  • Your marketing mix is wrong.

Most cakes are made by combining roughly the same ingredients with extras being added for different flavours. It’s the ingredient proportions and the way you mix, heat, fold, and cook them that gives you the difference. The same is true of marketing – it is a mix of components which, if applied correctly, give you a result, and if applied wrongly, make a mess. A common mistake is to spend too much money on brand building, and not enough on customer acquisitions.

So, spend some time looking at the mix, write down what you are doing, and roughly how much you are spending. Then add how much time you are spending and how many visits to your website you think you get as a result.

We have a client who was spending £1200 on fees for a PPC campaign and £300 on acquisition (PPC) so of the £1500 spend only £300 was on actually generating traffic. We have others who are just doing Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Tik Tok, and nothing else. One client spent ½ hour a day on social media, and yet in a year had only generated 15 visits to the website.

  • Your timing is wrong.

Marketing is a game of persistence and consistency and unless you are lucky, it’s hard to get quick results. It’s a game of presenting the right product to the right people consistently over a period of time. Sometimes it’s not working because you are being sporadic. Sometimes because it is too soon. Sometimes you are spending your money too quickly – generally, £1000 spent over 3 months will give you better results than £1000 spent over 1 weekend.

Sometimes it‘s that the market is not ready for your product (or your product is not right for the market). It may simply take time for people to understand what you are offering, or, as has been the case for the last 18 months, the world is weird, the time is wrong, and there is nothing you can do about it.