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Why Most Marketing Fails

Nate Hagerty
Posted by Nate Hagerty on Jun 16, 2021 10:58:03 AM

There are some fundamental factors that are necessary for you to have a successful marketing campaign. The foundational factor is understanding that building relationships should be at the core of all of your marketing. But even when you master that foundation, there are still other issues that you need to understand - salesmanship and other “non marketing” factors, shiny object syndrome, and ignoring existing (and lost) clients

However, when marketing fails, it usually comes down to one of three issues:

  • Wrong target market
  • The wrong message for that market
  • Media that doesn’t actually reach that particular target market.

These are the three foundational “legs” of the marketing stool … when any of them break, the whole thing collapses.

Let’s look at each of these, and see how we might diagnose YOUR problems.

Wrong Target Market

Accountants and bookkeepers often err in their marketing approach because they don’t have clarity about exactly whom they should be targeting for their services. And “any business with money in my market area” isn’t a target market.

Choosing the “wrong” target market usually means choosing NO target marketMarketing pieces are most effective when they speak to the conversation occurring within the minds of your prospect … and if you aren’t clear on the particular audience that you are targeting, this becomes an impossible task.

And so what this malady normally produces are bland, “image-oriented” marketing pieces that make no specific claims and simply catalog a list of services, thereby seeming to rely on a prospect who would be looking for “any accountant who happens to show up in my mailbox or on my computer screen.”

This kind of marketing is characterized by:

  • No headline speaking to a particular need or benefit
  • Pure focus on YOU, your practice and the services that you provide with no communication directly to the prospect regarding what they care about (this particular one is extremely common, and one of the greatest culprits of failing marketing)
  • Generic stock photography
  • No offer or “call to action”

If you take a good look at what you are putting out and it contains these characteristics, then you may get some response, but not nearly what you could if you corrected these problems.

Wrong Message For The Market

This problem is much easier to fix than the first one. It occurs when you have clarity about your specific, targeted market, but you aren’t speaking a message that resonates to your identified target.

To use small businesses, as an example, there are a variety of broad target markets that you could pursue. Each of these targets has a particular message that *most often* resonates. Note: these are certainly not the only ways you can slice up local businesses, and these are broad generalizations.

  • Bootstrapped Service Startups: Typically seeking authoritative guidance through managing debt and cashflow
  • Funded Service Startups: Seeking outside perspective and clarity on KPI’s and how to reduce their run-rate
  • Retail: Cost controls and advice on margins, payroll
  • Home Service Companies: Seeking a service they can trust who can save them TIME and hassle
  • Et cetera

You can become much more granular with different demographic selectors (whether advertising on Facebook, setting up your SEO strategy, generating a direct mail list, etc.), and it’s always a good idea to search within your client list and determine what your “best” clients have in common, in order to identify your best markets to target.

So if you are pursuing a particular target market, and not seeing the results you would like, evaluate whether your message speaks to what your market actually wants.

Media That Doesn’t Reach The Market

As with the previous issue, this one is also more easily fixed than the “lack of target market” problem.

Finding the right media for your message is a simple matter of testing. If you have a proven marketing piece that matches a particular target market (i.e., you have had success with it already in some form — whether direct mail, online ads, etc.), then it only makes sense to deploy it into a variety of media.

Simply put, you probably recognize that having one “line in the water” is great — having 20 is greater! :). So if another particular media that you are testing isn’t hitting the numbers you need, you simply move on to another media (after sufficient testing — one marketing piece does not an effective test make.)

If you are *certain* that you have the right message, for the right market … but you HAVEN’T found success with your pieces, my team and I normally suggest you look at other factors outside of marketing (phone/email salesmanship, lack of relationship focus, implementation errors, etc.)

So, if you aren’t hitting your marketing numbers, evaluate according to these criteria, and you’ll do much better in future marketing tasks.

Topics: Practice Growth


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