When you run a marketing agency, you get to know all kinds of businesses: the good, the bad, and the ugly. As marketers, our job is to help our clients sell more. We do that through strategy, content writing, copywriting, social media, PPC ads, and more.
You’d think that somewhere in these marketing tactics there would be an ideal mix for everyone. There usually is. But not always.
Throughout the past few years, we’ve refused to work with a lot of clients. Some of them were a complete misfit for us because they were looking for cheap content by the dozen with no strategy. Others had businesses that went completely against our ethical principles. And a few of them had a major flaw that no marketer could fix:
- The restaurant in a prime location who had a huge marketing budget and asked us to help fix their reputation. The problem? They had a plethora of reviews and all said the same thing: the food was terrible. When asked “did you consider doing something about the food first?”, the owner stopped replying.
- The solopreneur who wanted to crowdfund a gamepad infrared disinfectant and market it to germ-phobic gamers who still want to enjoy their takeout while playing their favorite game. How big of a market do you think that is?
- The seller of potency pills that weren’t approved by any regulatory body, but definitely worked, so they just needed more marketing to reach the right people to get them to sell like hotcakes.
Even if you’d throw all your ethical principles out the window, those are still not problems that marketing can fix. As much as I’d like to think of my trade as a panacea, it’s really not. Nothing is.
So, before you throw money at ads or any other type of marketing, take a good, hard look at the things below. You may spot a different problem that needs to be fixed before your marketing mix.
1. A Bad Product
Sorry, there’s no way around this. Some products need heavy repairing before making them marketable, while others are beyond repair.
Think of it this way: if you sell shoes that fall apart at their first contact with a puddle, do you think that your customers are going to be impressed by the fact that you offer same-day delivery and luxury packaging?
I think not.
Sure, marketing can help you make the first sales and your fast delivery and fancy packaging will impress the client for a split second. But there’s no way they’ll place another order.
How can you fix this?
Take a look at your reviews. Yes, some customers can be mean and too demanding. But are your competitors’ customers equally mean? If not, this is not a problem that marketing can fix.
2. Bad Product-Market Fit
Your product may be perfectly functional. But it won’t sell if there’s no one to buy it. My real-life example above is a perfect illustration: how many germ-phobic gamers who still use their dirty paws to gnaw on snacks while gaming do you know?
The ideal product-market fit lies at the intersection between product features, market needs, and optimum pricing. For instance, if you try to sell a SaaS solution for freelancers, you’d better not add a hefty price tag. Similarly, if your SaaS is for a large corporation, a tiny price tag might make them question its quality.
3. Unwillingness to Change or Adapt
Remember Kodak and their famous “Kodak moments”? At one point, the name Kodak was synonymous with photography. And then they vanished.
Ironically enough, Kodak was also the inventor of the first digital camera. But they didn’t believe that digital photography would ever be prevalent, so they didn’t bother to invest in this segment. Instead, they pumped more advertising dollars into their print photography products, while their competition was busy developing better digital cameras.
Listen to your customers. When they tell you they want something new, something enhanced, something disruptive, listen carefully. Among their feedback there might be the idea for the product of the century. Or, at least, the key to the survival of your current products.
4. Poor Sales Performance
Your marketing is great but it’s wasted on an underperforming sales process. It happens more often than you may think. A few years ago, we had a customer in the XaaS space who used our content writing services for more than a year. For us, they were the ideal customer: they had a great product, great market fit, and they knew what they wanted.
But after a while, the founder let us know that he wouldn’t be investing in content marketing anymore. We were puzzled: the content that we produced for them was ranking in SERPs and it was getting tons of buzz on social media.
Still, they were not making any sales.
I took this as a personal challenge and offered them free marketing consulting just to get to the bottom of the problem. Turns out their leads were disappearing mid-funnel.
The content attracted them and made them consider purchasing (job done!). But the final step of the process was a free demo call, where their agents were rarely able to convey their value proposition and make the sale.
We helped them re-think their sales process from scratch and finally get the sales their content strategy set them up for.
Moral of the story: you can’t count on doing a single thing right. From writing to marketing and from sales to customer services, everything has to be on par to keep the machine running.
I know it’s not easy to spot or to admit there’s something inherently wrong with your products or with your business processes, but sometimes this cold shower is the best thing you can do for your business.
If your sales are lagging behind targets, go back to the drawing board. Ask your customers what happened, what you can do better. You won’t like all the answers, but you’ll definitely like the sales boost they can bring.
Still not able to figure out what’s wrong? I can help! Pick my brain in a one-on-one session and let’s see how you can get your sales back on track.