8 Reasons Why Your Marketing Strategy is Failing

8 Reasons Why Your Marketing Strategy is Failing
  • Marketing is a rather complicated aspect of business operations. If you think you know how to implement a perfectly planned marketing strategy without a single mistake, you should think twice.
  • There are a lot of marketing mistakes that even specialists may or may not neglect or forget about.
  • Among those are not tracking your results, overpromising on delivering, not knowing your client lifetime value and many more.

I strongly suspect that Mr. Wanamaker underestimated just how much advertising and marketing spend is wasted.

Most SMEs I speak to have tried a wide variety of marketing tactics and more often than not they don’t know what worked and what didn’t. More critically, they don’t know why. If you don’t know why it’s hard to fix the problem and improve your marketing.

There are many reasons why a marketing campaign fails, but my top 8 are explained below. Take 5 minutes now to run through the list and see if your business makes any of these common and expensive marketing mistakes.

1. You aren’t tracking your marketing properly

There is no excuse nowadays for not knowing whether your marketing is making you more money than it costs you.

Some conventional media, like TV, are harder to track. New digital media is far easier. If you run a Facebook ad, for example, you can track everything from the clicks on the ad to the leads generated or sales made. The top 3 things to track are:

  • Your cost to get a lead/visitor.
  • What percentage of leads/visitors become a paying client (conversion rate).
  • Your cost to acquire a client.

2. You don’t know your client lifetime value (LTV)

Marketing is about acquiring clients at a cost that allows your business to profit over the life of that client. So, if you spend $200 to get a client but they spend $2,000 with you over a year you are likely making a decent profit.

If you don’t know their lifetime value, you don’t know how much you can invest to get a client. So, make sure you check your figures and see how long people stay with your business and how much they spend on average. You can then make far smarter marketing decisions.

3. You ignore the marketing triangle

Every successful marketing campaign does the 3 things shown below – it delivers the right message to the right market using the right media.

marketing triangle

So, if you want to market to brides you need to have a message they are interested in and make sure it runs in the correct media (e.g. a bridal magazine). If you ran the same ad in the wrong media (e.g. a business magazine) the campaign would fail. When you plan your campaign make sure all three elements line up. If you’re reviewing a campaign that isn’t working, then one or more of the areas are most likely wrong.

4. Your offer is weak or you don’t have one

Every marketing piece you create must have a strong offer that you want people to respond to.

It isn’t always 'buy now.' It could be to request some free educational content, attend an online webinar or many other things.

What is surprising though, is how common it is to see marketing pieces like business cards, flyers, websites and more without a clear action you want people to take.

Think about what you can offer as a ‘low risk’ first step for people to take towards becoming a client of your business. Here’s a great example of one aimed at aspiring authors (you can see how attractive it would be for them).

marketing offer

5. Your marketing looks the same as everyone else

It is so common to see businesses in the same niche market saying the exact same things in their marketing. Why? Usually because most business owners are not marketing experts so they learn from the competition. However, the competition probably began the same way. So, you can see how ineffective marketing can perpetuate an industry. In fact, you could simply change the name of the company on most ads and the message would still work!

Instead what you need to do is differentiate your business from everyone else. So instead of promoting yourself as a Bookkeeper, for example, you instead promote yourself as a specialist Bookkeeper for a particular industry.

People will choose a solution that seems like a custom fit for them. So, if you specialise in that industry, you will stand out from anyone else promoting themselves as a generalist.

6. Your marketing message is about you, not them

The sad truth is that no one cares about your business and what you do.

Now that sounds harsh but it’s true. The good news is potential clients care a lot about what you can do for them.

How often do you see an ad and say to yourself, "So what?" Or worse - just ignore it completely. The reason that you do so is because the ad gave you no compelling reason to pay attention to it. Compare these two hypothetical examples (for a chiropractor) and imagine which one would grab your attention most. For the sake of this example, your name is name is Sarah Jones and you currently have severe back pain (I hope you never do).

Ad 1 Ad 2
When you need to get your body back in better health call Jane’s Chiropractic…

“Are you suffering from severe back pain?”

Safe and gentle treatment relieves the symptoms of back pain in just one visit. Call Jane on…

Ad 2 would get my attention if I was Sarah because it’s about me.

7. You are doing tactical marketing instead of strategic marketing

Marketing tactics change almost daily, especially in the digital space. What doesn’t change is the value of having an effective marketing strategy.

The cartoon below really captures the struggle for many businesses.

strategic marketing

People tell me all the time they have to be on the latest social media site. That’s a tactical mindset. A strategic mindset will instead ask good questions like:

  • Do I have to be on XYZ site?
  • Are my clients on this site?
  • Can I target my marketing to them on the site?
  • Is it the single and best use of my time and marketing dollars versus all other options?

If you will take a moment to be strategic in how you market you will save you’re a ton of time and avoid wasting thousands of dollars on ineffective marketing tactics.

Just because it’s quite easy to set up Facebook ads or Google AdWords doesn’t mean you know how to do it correctly. A little bit of education on strategy can really make these media platforms payoff for your business.

8. You overpromise and underdeliver

It’s natural to want to get a new client for your business, but don’t fall into the trap of overpromising to get the sale. It’s far better to make your promise conservative so that when you do better than expected, the client gets a positive surprise.

Whole industries can be destroyed by aggressive promises in marketing. If you’ve been marketing on the Internet for a while, no doubt you’ve been made promises about ranking high on Google and making tons of sales. It’s a great sounding promise.

Sadly, the reality is often different: many of my clients have been sold on these promises and haven't received the results they were expecting.

So now you’re better aware of the most common and expensive marketing mistakes, which means you have a head start on your competitors.

I hope you implement what you learnt today and see rapid growth in your business over the years ahead.

William Siebler

CEO at

I work with businesses to find untapped profit opportunities in their existing business. Specifically I help them get more leads (better quality), convert more leads to paying clients, maximise the value of each client, get the client coming back more often (where possible) and getting the business more referrals. When I look at a business I can see what the opportunities are quite quickly. Just recently I helped a commercial services company scale from $1 million to $ million in sales.