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What Do You Do When Your Marketing Isn’t Working?

Whether you’ve recently set up your business or you’ve been established for years, there comes a time when you question your marketing. You’re unhappy because your marketing isn’t producing the results you require. If you are not measuring key areas for response, then how do you know that it’s your marketing that isn’t working?  I…

Empty Order BookWhether you’ve recently set up your business or you’ve been established for years, there comes a time when you question your marketing. You’re unhappy because your marketing isn’t producing the results you require.

If you are not measuring key areas for response, then how do you know that it’s your marketing that isn’t working?  I recall working with a client who wanted me to increase their marketing activity. When I analysed their numbers I realised that they were very busy quoting to customers and prospects. However, their conversion rate from quote to sale was very low. Consequently, they didn’t have a marketing problem, they had a conversion problem which was completely different.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of marketing tools and what you can do change your results…

Social Media

You may have set targets for likes or possibly enquiries direct from social media platforms like Facebook etc. With social media you need to understand that this can be a slow process. Good, interesting, engaging posts are required. Have you been writing them? Are you really connecting with your audience to the degree that they respond with either likes, comments, shares or re-tweets? If not, this is a clear sign that your messages are not resonating with your reader, creating excitement or any other emotions to the extent they take action.

Have you looked to see if your followers / fans match your expected target audience? Have a look at this recent article on ‘audience insights‘ to find out how to check this and why it’s important.

You can also take a look at your competition. What are they doing or saying that is getting a response? Try writing a few of your own in the same style, without copying word for word. Then watch carefully to see how your audience responds. You may do this several times before you find the methods or style that engages and grows your audience.


If your website is still a long way off a page 1 search ranking the number of organic enquiries you will receive will be limited. There are so many reasons why this could be, so let’s cover some of the more important elements and then I suggest you read the many articles within the website category in this Knowledge Centre, which could help solve some of them.

1) Are you using video on your website? If not, can you create some and add them to relevant pages on your website? Perhaps you have a subject that can be broken down into a mini series so they are released at frequent intervals. It is worth uploading your videos to Youtube, making sure you link back to your website in the text description area. Then use their embed code for your website. Doing this could help your search engine rankings.

2) Are you regularly updating your website with fresh content? Search engines are constantly checking for updates and having unique, good quality content can help increase your page ranking. Consistency is key here. What frequency could you realistically achieve? Weekly, fortnightly, monthly? Decide & stick to it!

Add new content in the form of blog posts, articles or videos. You could interview an expert or invite guests to blog for you. As long as the content you add is good quality, in time, you will be rewarded by upwards movement in search engines.

Remember to undertake keyword research before writing new content, using the correct keywords in the titles and body copy of your articles. Have a look at this SEO article for further guidance.

Direct mail

If you use sales letters in your marketing mix then you should have been testing them over a period of time to clarify which elements work best. If you haven’t, then please read my article on testing (whilst it refer to websites in the title, it contains guidelines which apply for many different marketing media). You should be testing your headlines, offer, ps, to find what works best. The golden rule is to change one element per test so you can monitor the result. If you change multiple elements then you have no clear understanding why your test worked. This is important as it could show you the key element your target market responds to. This allows you to transfer this into your other marketing methods to see if it works there too.

Newspaper advertising.

How do you know that these adverts are not working? Are you asking each new caller where they found you? If they visited your website, how did they find it? Was it through a search engine or possible referral from another source? Perhaps your newspaper advert is driving traffic to your website rather than creating a direct enquiry.

With all forms of advertising you need to test. Let’s assume for now that you have all of the correct elements on your advert such as strong headline, benefit related text, a testimonial, a good call to action. If you’ve copied other adverts then perhaps this is the time to test a new approach. If the newspaper created your advert then it’s likely to be very similar to a competitors. If it doesn’t have the correct elements listed above, I suggest your advert needs a rewrite. Test different versions and monitor which works best.

Email marketing

Do you use email marketing software to monitor your emails? If not, then you need to consider doing so. You will be able to view vital statistics such as:

  • Delivery rate – are they even getting to your prospects inbox? Make sure you run a spam check.
  • Open rate – if people are not opening your emails, test different headlines.
  • Whether people open them more than once – you can consider sending follow up just to the people who open several times as the content is obviously of interest
  • See how many people click on any links you include within your email. Again you can do special follow ups just for these people.

Printed material

Strange as it may sound, have you checked that your details are correct? It amazes me that a business doesn’t check these simple things e.g. what happens if your phone number is incorrect on a leaflet? If a potential customer cannot reach you without a huge effort, most don’t bother.

Are you really happy with your leaflets/brochures? Is the message right for your business? Do you have a call to action and a special offer on your leaflet to entice prospects? Analyse carefully as though you knew nothing about your business. Would the leaflet really help you? Is it full of jargon or terms that you’ve probably never heard of? What questions do you feel your prospect will be asking after reading your leaflet/brochure? Are they buying questions, or does the marketing leave you asking more questions? If so, where does the prospect find the answers? Can they find them on your website or will they have to call? Do you think your prospect at this stage of the buying cycle wishes to speak to a salesperson? If the answer is no, then perhaps your printed material isn’t saying enough.

Some business owners post leaflets/brochures without adding a sales letter. Consider this. A sales letter is a sales person in print. Would you walk up to a prospect, hand them a leaflet/brochure and say nothing? Surely not? You would ask questions to understand their key areas of interest, allay their fears and get a response so that they are moving towards placing an order. If a sales person cannot be with the recipient of your marketing material, then that is the job of your sales letter.


Marketing is a science, not an art, although many associate it to art because of graphical content. You need to test every step of the way to find what works and what doesn’t.

Sometimes business owners give up too soon. They send one letter, do not follow up and consider the prospect isn’t interested if they do not get a response. That’s not necessarily true. It may be they need more convincing. On average, a prospect needs to see your marketing material nine times or more before they are sometimes even remotely interested in talking to you. This is why you need an escalator of marketing with different methods of delivery and follow up. Each element should be measured so that you know how it performs. This in turn allows you to focus on which areas may be weak. By testing in these areas, you may find a sudden jump in your overall numbers.

Testing is the key requirement in building successful marketing. Test small to contain your costs.

Finally, measure the results. You cannot manage what you haven’t measured. You need the data to understand what degree of response you are getting before and after you test. This confirms whether the test is working. Good luck.

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