I haven’t met many business owners or executives who are excited about their companies’ marketing. When I ran a marketing communications firm, most prospective clients came to me in a panic, such as:
- Anxious to do something about marketing
- Distressed about not doing as much as competitors were
- Nervous about missing out or falling behind on the latest marketing trends
- Frustrated by doing all the right things and not getting results
Many business owners and decision-makers are of two minds about marketing. They feel an urgent responsibility to “do something” AND a deep suspicion that nothing is working.
You may relate to these real-world stories:
Marketing arms race
A business owner is anxious about search performance. A Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firm revamped their website and continues to maintain that program at a cost of $2,500 per month. When I ask, What increase have you seen in phone calls, web queries, or walk-ins?, they say they have seen no impact except a higher number of misinformed callers who are not prospective clients. Meanwhile, the website is not meeting the needs of real clients and prospects.
Following the leaders
An entrepreneur has been using the same online marketing tactics as the leaders in their industry. A few years later, they have not achieved the desired successes and have barely recouped their marketing investments. In retrospect, they say, it was a mistake to copy other peoples’ tactics rather than investing in their own success.
Stuck in a rut
After two decades in business, a small business with big growth plans cancels all their marketing and promotion activities after admitting that no new clients are coming through those channels. They step back to sort out what’s going on and what’s really needed, realizing that without the right direction and clarity, no marketing campaign or marketing expert can be effective for them.
A forward-thinking business owner with low aversion to risk has always invested in marketing. They proactively stay on top of ROI and make changes when things aren’t working. Every campaign seems to quickly reach a point of diminishing returns. Over more than six years of staying on top of marketing, the overall results are negligible given the effort put in.
So much gets missed when focus is put on specific DOINGS rather than strategic UNDERPINNINGS.
Take real action with pre-marketing
There’s a common theme in all these stories: fear. Fear that you aren’t doing enough. Fear that you aren’t doing the right things. Fear that you do all the right things yet don’t see results. Fear doesn’t feel good.
Let this be your permission to start saying NO to marketing activities that don’t feel good and don’t show results.
That’s scary, too, to choose to do NOTHING for your business. But I’m not giving you permission to do nothing. I’m giving you permission to be honest about what doesn’t work (even if it’s the thing everyone tells you that you MUST do), and to trade that in for answers to the questions that will ensure EVERYTHING works in the future:
- What is this brand; what is its essence?
- To whom does it speak; does it do that well?
- Have we chosen the right target customers?
- What is the best way to engage them?
- What do they really need?
- Are my business, my target customer and me the company leader fully aligned?
- How can I best connect my brand with its audiences?
At Phrase Strategy, we are devoted to working with leaders on getting these answers and creating the foundations of long-lasting success. We call it pre-marketing and it’s what our Essential Story Process achieves.