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Are Your Marketing Efforts Failing? It Might Be Time to Shift Your Perspective.

Are Your Marketing Efforts Failing? It Might Be Time to Shift Your Perspective.
Image credit: Rebecca Nelson | Getty Images

Last week I was in a meeting (which, as we grow, has become a more and more frequent thing) when the subject of underperforming marketing media came up. As we discussed the issue, one of my team members brought up the example of a client who had voiced some concerns with a non-newsletter marketing piece we ran for them.

According to the client, the campaign had been a total flop. Now, I don’t know about you, but when one of my clients reports a bad experience, I don’t waste any time in getting to the bottom of things. I look internally, double checking that what we’re doing is effective, but it also means taking a deeper look into the execution of the campaign.

I started with a series of questions, beginning with how that client was tracking ROI on the campaign in question. The answer surprised me. Their system for tracking was hit and miss at best, and their expectation of how much heavy lifting any piece of media can manage was off.

Related: Should ROI Be Attached to Every Marketing Activity?

Many businesses have unrealistic expectations from their marketing in general, and I find those expectations to be a key factor in holding back the growth of the businesses.

The goal of your media.

When tracking any media, you have to first understand the goal of the media, which often varies from the goal of the overall campaign. In this situation, the goal of the media was to get the phone to ring. The goal of the overall campaign was to get new customers in the office. Do you see where the confusion comes in?

The truth about why marketing doesn’t work.

Many businesses go into a marketing campaign thinking that once the check is cashed and the media is mailed/delivered, a crowd of new customers will come flooding in.

All too often, that is asking far too much of the media, and the check being cashed and media delivered is simply the starting point in the process. Don’t underestimate the amount of effort that goes into getting a new customer.

Related: How Much Did That New Customer Cost You? 

At minimum, here are the five steps (using an appointment generation to service-based business model) that need to happen before someone becomes a good, loyal customer:

  1. Gain the interest of a prospect and convert that interest into an inbound call.
  2. Take the inbound call and turn that interest into an appointment.
  3. Get the prospect to show up for the appointment.
  4. Provide your services at a better-than-good-enough level, with your new customer being the judge on what is “better than good enough” (and not just “good” or “acceptable”).
  5. Get the customer to return for a second visit.

At any point in the above simplified process, if a step gets skipped or is handled poorly, it’s easy to blame the failure on the media -- i.e., this media provides poor quality leads or coupon-only shoppers. The problem with this perception is that the media in question is only in control of step one of the five-step process: Gaining the prospect’s interest and getting them to call you.

Getting repeat customers starts with you.

Understandably, the reason a business invests in marketing media is to end up with new customers, but if your office support is unable to convert a call to an appointment, you’re going to find most marketing and advertising doesn’t work for you.

Additionally, what about the no-show rate? What are you proactively doing to make sure people show up for the appointments you’ve scheduled with them? One huge factor in no-show rates is the length of time that passes between requesting an appointment and fulfilling that appointment. In most cases, you want the wait time to be less than three business days. Any longer will lead to an increased number of no-shows.

Finally, finding a way to retain your customers goes beyond the initial media investment. You have to get the person to come back for a second -- or for some businesses, a third -- time before you can really count them as a customer. What’s your system for that? Complaining that a media gets you only “coupon shoppers” is typically a failure in the systems of converting prospects to customers, not a failure of the media.

Related: Turn Prospects Into Customers With These 8 Tips

Remember that even if you get them to come into the office, the experience you offer might be the final deciding factor on whether or not they choose to return. You must consider the level of service you bring to the market.

Every business owner I’ve ever talked to says they provide a “good product” or a “good service,” but by whose standards? “Good” is very subjective. If you can find a way to provide a great experience and stand out from the competition, you will have better odds of at least meeting the minimum standard of “good” for most people. 

The newsletter pro's marketing fail.

I recently ran a test on Facebook. The goal was to generate more leads. The initial results got us over 300 new leads with full contact info. Unfortunately, most of those leads did not convert into customers. The problem was not that Facebook, as a vehicle to get new customers, didn’t work; the problem was issues with targeting and post opt-in education.

Facebook did its job by giving me the opportunity to get more new customers; we just needed to make a few tweaks to what we were doing to support the campaign on our end and make the media work for us.

If you’re mailing out a marketing campaign and feeling unsatisfied with the results, you have to stop blaming the media as if it were the only factor in determining the success or failure of the campaign. If the media is hitting its goal, I immediately move to being introspective. Why did it fail? Did we drop the ball? Did no one answer the phone? Was the script used by both the appointment setter and sales person?

Related: The Real Reason Most Marketing Fails 

You need to shift your perspective.

With very few exceptions, you are not going to be able to simply write a check and then collect new customers. If it were only that simple, we’d all be rich beyond our wildest dreams. 

Getting a new customer is hard. That’s why I’m such a big believer in investing in customer retention. I hate to lose a good customer. I can assure you I’ve worked hard to get my customers, many times sacrificing weekends at home with my family to attend events where I speak or man our trade show booth. 

Most business owners underestimate the difficulty of both acquiring and keeping customers. Look at your marketing plan from every angle and consider what is required from you to both get the customer in the door and keep them coming back. What you choose to do then could be the difference between becoming amazingly successful and maintaining the status quo.