Why Your Marketing Doesn't Work

If marketing has been around since the 1960’s, why is it still so hard to get it right?

For decades a lot of very smart people have been trying to work out how to market a business.  And yet despite all that work, we’re still no clearer.  Our efforts are no more effective. Results and return on investment are still out of reach for the majority of business owners.

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.
— John Wanamaker

Is your marketing more like internet dating?

In my experience the problem lies in the fact that we think of marketing like speed dating – we try something, it doesn’t work.  We try something else - that doesn’t work either…and so on. 

Like speed dating, you might stumble across someone interesting (but if you do, it will be by accident).  Like speed dating, it might lead somewhere…but probably won’t!

Instead of trying to find a partner through a series of one night stands, we need to plan a courtship and to do that, we need to think broader than the stand alone marketing activities that most businesses engage in.

Most marketing doesn’t work (by itself)

We all have our favourite marketing tactics and that’s ok.  For some it’s events, for others it’s adwords.  Networking and social media are other popular tactics at the moment.

The common mistake however, is that these tactics stand alone like an island at sea.  There’s no bridge to, or from them.  And this is the problem with most marketing plans.  It’s not that the tactics are bad – it’s just that they lack something upstream to feed them and something downstream to follow them.  In most marketing plans this doesn’t exist.

A Marketing Waterfall approach

The opportunity is to design a marketing pipeline that sits above your sales pipeline.  One that engages your target market and takes them on a journey before you start a sales conversation. 

It might sound harder or less direct than a calendar of stand-alone marketing tactics but there are a number of advantages to doing it this way:

  1. Clarity: In defining your marketing waterfall, you’re defining the demand generation model for your business. Once you know what it is, you know how to grow the business.
  2. Efficiency: Now that you’re not switching from one tactic to another, you can focus your budget and efforts for best effect.  Your marketing becomes a streamlined set of connected activities rather than a children’s lucky dip.
  3. A healthier pipeline. By focusing your efforts in the right places and at the right times, the results start to flow in a more consistent manner. Done well, you end up with a pipeline of prospects who are prequalified and presold.
  4. Return on Investment:  With a designed marketing waterfall in place, you’re now able to track the key metrics of acquisition and conversion at each stage.  This allows you to make informed decisions about which tactics are working, which need to be rethought and a measure of your marketing ROI.

One Size Fits All

One of the great things I love about this approach is that it can be right sized to all businesses.  I used this model at Microsoft when I ran a team of marketing managers, but I’ve also implemented it for sole-operators. It works at a scale of one, but the sophistication can grow with the resources available in the organisation.

(Marketing Waterfall design is a core component of our “Strategies for Growth” Workshops - a popular series we run for leadership teams, entrepreneurs and marketing managers – you can read more about them here).

So take a fresh look at your marketing efforts.  Are you courting your prospects or are you trying to sleep with them on the first date?  Is your marketing producing results or like most, are you randomly engaging the market and hoping that if you make enough noise it will pay off?

For most, there’s a great opportunity to design a better growth strategy. One which is easier to implement, is a better experience for your prospects and which has a more positive and direct impact on your bottom line.

Four Secrets to Successfully Working for Yourself

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to the "Women's Business" group, hosted by Crystal Schekoske, on the topic of coworking.

In the presentation, I spoke about the four things which drives success in every organisation... but is missing in those based at home (this was the genesis of my recent book: The Coworking Revolution).

"The Coworking Revolution" can be pre-ordered  here.

"The Coworking Revolution" can be pre-ordered here.

Huge thanks to Valeria Jimenez from Aztec Visuals for her videography on the day and making it available to us all afterwards.

Global Coworking Unconference and Book Launch

We're very excited to be a part of this year's Global Coworking Unconference being held in Sydney on 4 &5 June 2015.

At the conference, Matthew Dunstan will be launching his new book "The Coworking Revolution" and be on hand to share insights and observation on how coworking can drive productivity and growth.

To read more about the conference and to preview a little of the content, visit their blog.

If you'd like register and receive $50 off the ticketed price, you can use the discount code "Revolution", courtesy of Third Spaces and Rising Tide Ventures.

Set a New Course for the New Year

6 things you need to review in your business over the holiday season.

The New Year period is typically a time when business slows down. It’s also the perfect time to work on your business rather than in it.  Now’s the time to plot the course corrections that will dial things up a notch in the year to come.

Plot a course 2.jpg

Corporates and multinationals around the world use the December/January period as a time to review the progress of the business and so should you.  But where to start?  In essence, there are 6 aspects of your business that could use a little refresh as a part of your mid-year review:

  1. Your direction, goals and purpose
  2. The market’s true needs and wants
  3. Opportunities to innovate and inspire
  4. An honest assessment of your strengths & weaknesses and your game plan for pursuing the opportunities aligned to the business direction.
  5. Your roadmap of key milestones to achieve
  6. Fine tuning your marketing and sales processes to focus your efforts for best effect.
Download our full Guide to Mid-Year Review planning here

1. Reconnect with your direction, your goals and why you care.

Surprisingly, many businesses don’t actually have a destination in mind.  It’s no wonder then that they drift from one opportunity to another without any noticeable growth or improvement. 

Every business needs to reconnect periodically with where they’re headed, why it’s important and what they’re trying to achieve.

Your objective:

  • Choose a destination, you’ll then have something you can plan towards.

  • Know why you care.  When the weather gets rough, it’s this knowledge that puts the wind back in your sails (it’s also what inspires your customers).

2. Spend some time in your customer’s shoes.

Chances are you’re going to be doing a lot of socialising during the holidays.  Well put that time to good use.  Ask those in your target market about their hopes for the New Year, the challenges they’ve been wrestling with and what they’re trying to get done.

Your objective:

  • Discover new customer insights

  • Develop more informed marketing messaging

  • Create new ideas for higher value products & services

3. Create something unique.

It’s not enough to be better, you have to be different – and we’re not talking about a new slogan or colour scheme.  To be truly compelling, your business needs an offer which is creative, memorable and engaging.

Your objective:

  • Create a unique and compelling differentiator

  • Generate buzz, excitement and discussion in the market

  • Drive energy and enthusiasm for a new initiative in your business

4. Review your SWOT & business strategy.

If you know your strengths, you’re able to capitalise on them.  If you know your weaknesses, you can compensate for them.  A good strategy allows you to address these whilst you choose and chase the opportunities aligned to your business.

Your objective:

  • Define which opportunities to pursue and which are a distraction.

  • Understand where you need to strengthen your business.

  • Create a single, consistent game plan to put all of your effort behind.

5. Create a Roadmap of Milestones

Now that you’re tuned into what you’re trying to accomplish, what are the waypoints you need to reach along the way?  What’s your first target and what’s the sequence for the rest?

Your objective:

  • A clear roadmap with key milestones you need to achieve along the way.

  • Specific actions, timeframes and accountabilities for what you need to do first

6. Review your lead generation systems

Most businesses won’t have a formal lead generation system but none the less, customers will have found them somehow during the year – even if by mistake! (a.k.a. unconscious competence). 

This is the time of the year polish up those lead gen activities and make them work together like a well-oiled machine (become consciously competent!).

Your objective:

  • Define YOUR method for filling the pipeline and growing your business

  • Focus your energy, activity and cash towards a streamlined lead-gen approach

  • Design a new marketing campaign for the New Year

You don’t have to do it in the boardroom – on the beach is fine!

Many people complain that they don’t have the time to work on their business – that they’re too busy “doing the business”.  Well, the holiday period is your chance!  It’s the perfect opportunity for you to step back from the detail and review where you’re headed, why you care and your plan to get there. 

Find your favourite location away from the office, hold the mirror up to yourself and review the key components of your business plan that will drive your success in the year to come.

More Resources:

Free Guide to Mid-Year Review

Rising Tide Ventures has published its “Guide to Performing Your Mid-Year Review”, free to download at www.risingtideventures.com.au/midyear-review

Free MYR Planning Podcast Series

For those who prefer to work on these things with others, we’re hosting a free, 6 part podcast series to help you walk through the MYR planning process.  You can find out more & register online at  www.risingtideventures.com.au/myr-podcast-series  

Challenge of the 1st Year

The vast majority of those who take the bold step out of employment will find their first year a challenge.  Part of it issue is financial pressure, but an even larger problem is the process of having to redefine everything:  your role, your day, your priorities, your professional persona - even your role at home.


Ali Mese has written a fantastic account of his first year as a solopreneur and the transition he went through before making it through to the other side.  I encourage you to read it, reflect and have a little empathy for those who are still in the midst of it.