We’ve Had the Same Damn Marketing Problem for Years. Why Can’t We Fix It?


Organizations that can’t get ahead with their marketing have plateaued—nothing seems to work, even though they feel they have tried everything. They are in a spot where they need to better leverage marketing to grow or scale their business sooner rather than later. But when my conversation with them turns to their marketing strategies, the responses often get pretty vague:

  • We consistently post on LinkedIn and send emails weekly.

  • Yes, we’re going to do some LinkedIn and Google ads. (as if it’s a last-ditch effort)

  • Our focus has been on product development, legal, financial audits, and funding.

  • We’ll put together a strategy once we figure out what works for us. If we don’t know what works, how can we build a strategy?

  • We outsource that to keep costs down and because they are the experts anyway.

Are you starting to pick up on a theme here? Many organizations would rather spend time on marketing tactics with the hope of success right out of the gate. It’s easy to talk about and execute tactics, but even the social platforms will tell you, you’ll get better results if you align your tactics to your company strategy.

These organizations are spending (to be honest, wasting) money on marketing tactics that don't work for them. And even worse, in many cases, they don't even know that it's not working or how to tell if it is working. One day they are speaking to a Facebook expert, the next they are signing a check for a PR agency. And they are doing all this without a plan.

Why do businesses keep investing in remedies that don’t work?

Or, ones that have little chance of working for them? Even though we try and genuinely believe that we are objective and unbiased in how we make decisions, the reality is we are constantly under the influence of any number of cognitive biases that distort our thinking, influence our beliefs, and sway the decisions that we make.

In this case, leaders often fall victim to any one or a combination of these biases—confirmation, the Dunning-Kruger Effect, self-serving, in-grouping, or availability. While I could write a whole book on biases and their effect on marketing, that’s not the purpose of this. All you need to know right now is that we are all susceptible to biases no matter our education, intellect, or good intentions.

A bias is a result of our brains making a mental shortcut to speed up our ability to make judgments and decisions because our brains can’t possibly evaluate every detail.

Now since we are looking forward to how to get different results with your marketing, let’s have compassion for the decisions and results you made before—you did the best you could with the information you had at the time.

There's more to marketing than just Likes and CTAs. Mind-blowing I know.

Marketing is often perceived as an add-on to a business but talked about as if it’s integral. It’s the scapegoat for everything wrong with a business and it’s the creative hub where everyone wants to play because they think they are the expert or simply that it’s fun. In some companies, it’s viewed as a necessary evil or as a client once described it to me, “the dark arts.” To which, my response was “that’s why we start with Lumos Maxima[1].”

Marketing does work. It’s a necessity for your business to survive and thrive. Marketing has been described as the heart and even the breath of your business—without either, your business can’t survive. Regardless of the analogy you prefer, both are extremely effective in conveying the importance of marketing and that it’s an integral and key internal aspect of your business. Both analogies are also effective at conveying that there are layers and complexities of marketing beyond what you initially think of.

A tactic independent of a strategy is about as efficient as throwing spaghetti on the wall or playing darts blindfolded after you’ve been spun around. You may get lucky once or twice, but do you know why? Can you replicate it? How do you know it was truly successful? What goal did it help you achieve? Or was it simply a boost in likes or shares?

  • Did you know that the average social media post, regardless of the platform has an average lifespan of two seconds?

  • Did you know that there has never been a business in the history of social media that has ever been able to prove a direct correlation between likes and revenue? This includes companies like Starbucks which is within six degrees of separation[2] from every person on Facebook (yes you read that correctly. Starbucks is within six degrees of separation from every person on Facebook, all over the world).

Tactics keep you focused on vanity metrics. A strategy keeps you focused on accomplishing your goals to grow your business. There’s a big difference between the two both short-term and long-term.

It was John Wanamaker (1838-1922), the department-store magnate, who once said,

“Half the money We spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, we don’t know which half.”

Over the years, his quote has been adapted to use newer terms to say essentially that 50% of all marketing strategies work. The challenge is, which 50% is it? Even today, with all the technology and ability to track and predict user behavior, marketing is still a blend of art and science. You can’t have one without the other. You’ll only get so far in generating results with one or the other. You need both.

So, if it is true that 50% of all marketing works, then how exactly do we discover this magical strategy?

Download our free eBook, Hidden Truth About Why Your Marketing Doesn’t Work to learn more.

[1] The dark arts are a term that referred to any type of magic that is mainly used to cause harm to others. Lumos Maxima is the incantation to a charm that could be used to produce a blinding flash of bright white light from the tip of the wand. Both terms are from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

[2] Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other. It’s often used as a synonym for the idea of the “small world phenomenon. It grew out of research from social psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. More recent research suggests that the number is between 5-12 depending on if you leverage social platforms and other factors. On average, there are 19 degrees of separation between any two web pages.

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