Has Marketing Lost Its Way?
Most marketing doesn’t work.
I know that doesn’t sound good coming from someone who teaches marketing for a living.
But it’s true.
We’ve lost our way in marketing in recent years.
Paradoxically, in a time when there’s more marketing information available than ever before, and more marketing options and tools available to help us; the average professional is struggling like never before to win clients.
Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience yourself?
When you’re trying to figure out what will bring you clients on a regular and sustainable basis it feels like you’ve got a million different options.
And there are a million different experts telling you you need to use Facebook Ads and a webinar, or you need to connect on LinkedIn and have conversations, or you need to have a podcast or write a book or whatever their preferred silver bullet is.
And of course, all of them are sold as being easy and the only one that really works – all you have to do is buy their program and all your problems are solved.
And then if you do go ahead with one approach, it turns out it doesn’t work anywhere near as well as it’s supposed to. You do everything you were taught but you just don’t get the results that were promised or that everyone else seems to be getting.
Or you’re beginning to get results – but it’s taking way too much of your time. You end up spending every minute of the day posting on social media or trying to optimise Facebook Ads or sending out a million emails to ask to get on other people’s podcasts or do joint ventures or write for their blog.
So the end result is you’re just not getting enough of the right type of client and you go through this rollercoaster of ups and downs in your income, no consistency, no predictability and none of that growth or scaling or wonderful clients and plenty of free time you were promised.
So what do you do to break out of that cycle?
Well, what you don’t do is try to do more of the same. Running around doing more and more of the marketing that’s not working for you. Buying more and more courses about different tactics but never finding the silver bullet you keep being promised.
And of course, that’s because there isn’t a silver bullet.
Instead, you need to take a step back and look at what’s actually causing the problems.
The underlying issue, at least in my experience, is our obsession with tactics. With tools and techniques.
In fact, the whole marketing industry is obsessed by tactics, tools and techniques. We seem to have forgotten about the importance of strategy and getting the fundamentals right.
Of course, figuring out your marketing strategy doesn’t sound anywhere near as sexy as just buying an amazing new funnel building system. Or a course that shows you how to “copy the exact steps” of a guy who used podcasting or youtube videos to build his business. Or Facebook Ads. Or Linkedin. Or whatever tool or technique they’re peddling.
But imagine if we took that approach in other walks of life.
Does any writer seriously think that if they used the same quill pen as Shakespeare and wrote in iambic pentameter they’d get his results?
Does any golfer seriously think if they used the same clubs as Phil Mickelson they’ll go from being a hack to a scratch player overnight? Or that the best way to start with golf is to try to learn Mickelson’s flop shot before getting the basics of their swing right?
Or that if we only knew the chat-up lines Brad Pitt uses to get dates we’d have the same kind of success?
Of course not.
But in marketing, we seem to think that we can jump straight in and copy the tactics others are using and get the same results even though our businesses, our clients, our skills and our experiences are completely different.
In sport, in the arts, in any other profession, we’d know that we have to get the fundamentals right first.
Only then can we pick the right tactics that are a fit for us and our situation.
What are the fundamentals when it comes to marketing?
There’s no one definitive answer. But for me, thinking about the fundamentals for marketing consulting and other professional services, it starts with:
- Understanding your market and the different problems, challenges, goals and aspirations of the potential clients in that market
- Deciding which particular clients you will focus on – picking an attractive and viable niche that also harnesses your experience, expertise and energy
- Creating an irresistible offer for your chosen clients that will grab their attention and clearly articulate the value they’d get from hiring you and why you’re a better choice than anyone else
- Understanding how your clients buy: the steps they go through from becoming aware of a problem to finally deciding to hire someone to help them, and what they need to know and feel to be ready to hire someone.
- Knowing where value lies in your relationship: for you and them. Understanding and harnessing the power of client retention, repeat business and keeping in touch and nurturing relationships
If you get these fundamentals right, then most decent marketing tactics will work for you. Get them wrong and even the greatest tactics in the world won’t help.