The anatomy of failure: Four questions to ask when your marketing isn’t working
Does this sound familiar? You run a marketing strategy and it flops miserably. What’s the first thing you do?
All too often, if you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, you start pointing fingers. You blame other people, including the very clients and customers you seek to attract. You blame circumstances that are beyond your control, like the weather or the season of the year.
And, inevitably, you end up pointing more than one finger back at yourself. In addition to this self-flagellation, self-doubt creeps in. You start to wonder if you’re ever going to do the “right” thing, if you’re good enough, if you’re [fill in the blank] enough.
The truth is, no amount of blaming others or beating yourself up has ever made a significance difference in the world. It is tempting, however!
Four questions that work
What does work is to re-frame your marketing strategies and outcomes. Look at whatever has happened as a learning experience. After all, whether something worked or (especially) if it didn’t work, you might as well learn something valuable from it.
Right now, recall a specific marketing effort that didn’t work out as well as expected. It might be something from the recent past or something you’re going through right now.
Now ask the following questions:
1. What worked?
2. What didn’t work?
3. What did you learn?
4. What will you change about your strategy, moving forward?
That’s all there is to it; four simple questions. Your biggest challenge will be to get into the habit of asking these questions before you start blaming others, yourself, or circumstances.
Let’s take a look at an example
Say you are working on lead generation for, say, your gourmet chocolate company and you run a marketing campaign that’s designed to appeal to chocolate lovers through the internet.
You run a Google Ad Words pay-per-click campaign. You spend thousands of dollars for all the people who “clicked through” your online ad. Your web traffic analysis tells you that thousands of visitors came to your site, but only a handful stayed for more than a minute or bought anything. So, you only have several hundred dollars in revenue from it. Obviously not an ROI that’ll keep you in business.
Let’s look at the four questions:
1. What worked?
Well, at least some people clicked through, so that tells you that some people are indeed interested in purchasing chocolate through the internet.
2. What didn’t work?
Of course, spending thousands of dollars to make several hundred didn’t work. But it also didn’t work that you initially attracted visitors to your site but that most didn’t stay for very long. And of the potential customers who went further into your site, only a fraction were inclined to buy anything.
3. What did I learn?
It would be easy to say to yourself, “Internet marketing doesn’t work. People don’t by chocolate online; they need to see it and smell it.”
But what if you said, “What I learned is … Some people do buy chocolate from the internet. I wonder why so many people came to the site, but so few bought anything. What if my marketing message on my website is confusing or turning people off?”
4. What will I change about your strategy, moving forward?
Maybe you’ll give this strategy another trial. But this time, you’ll refine your website’s marketing message. Maybe make the site more attractive, both in appearance and in the words you use to describe your products. Words that sell are words that evoke powerful emotions—could you do a better job of filling the room with the alluring aroma of sweet, irresistible delectables with your words?
Four simple questions
Now, isn’t that better than the alternative of finger-pointing and other non-productive forms of getting the results you want from your business? By the way, these questions apply to just about any business situation, not just marketing. Heck, they apply to just about any life situation!
Asking (and answering) these four questions can completely change your world. Get into the habit of exploring them, before going down the “blame, shame road,” and you’ll prosper mightily. This, clearly and simply defined, is the road to “more profit, greater freedom, and lasting contribution.”
To your prosperity!