In the last two years, more than 500 billion dollars were spent on advertising in North America, with approximately half of that going to digital advertising (data according to Statista).
How much of that marketing spend do you think went down the drain?
For those marketers who had a strategic approach, I'm sure they saw a decent ROI with plenty of bang for their buck.
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses ended up wasting money in failed marketing efforts.
You might have experienced this yourself, and you might be even MORE frustrated because you feel like you did everything right -- perhaps you even hired a pro marketing agency.
Despite crazy advances in tools, tech, and data so many marketing agencies and marketing efforts STILL fail.
Unfortunately, what I've noticed, is that failure is baked into many marketing strategies from the very beginning.
And that's because critical steps are often overlooked, which results in some common marketing fails.
So today, we're going to look at what happens when those steps are overlooked, but we're also going to give you a way to ensure it doesn't happen to you.
In this article, you'll get clear on how to fill in those commonly mixed gaps so that you don't go awry where so many others do.
I call these "RAMP Solutions" because SOLVING these common marketing agency fails is what drove me to create my agency's proprietary process, the Marketing RAMP®.
Every solution I'm about to share with you here are strategies I implement for my own clients and my own agency.
Let's get started.
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Marketing Fail #1: Marketing to the Wrong Audience
If you're not crystal clear on your ideal buyers, then your marketing efforts are off to a bad start. Maybe you have several different target audiences, or maybe you offer vastly different products and services.
Either way, if you aren't clear about your audience, your messaging will be more difficult and content creation might feel a little bit more like a shot-in-the-dark. Your company will come across as slightly confusing, because you will indeed be a little confused!
Not marketing to the correct audience is how marketing fails from the very beginning and how countless qualified leads slip through the cracks.
That's because leads and ideal buyers and actual customers have different questions, goals, and behavioral patterns.
If you don't know what they're each looking for, and if you can't find a way to engage with all of those variances in an effective, intelligent way then you will miss the mark with huge swaths of qualified buyers.
But, if you're able to intimately understand your audience's varied needs and the kinds of solutions they're looking for; you are better poised to connect, engage and move each person to the next stage in their customer journey.
Here's how you do so...
RAMP Solution: Define Audience & Customize Content
To defeat the failure of generalization, we're going to focus on defining your audience.
Below are some prompts to get you started on the path of defining your ideal buyer.
Say the ideal buyer is a business, or another company. Depending on what it is you do, you might be targeting the CMO, the head of human resources, or someone else in the company.
You'll want to give context to that ideal buyer within the company as well, considering things such as:
Now, the key here is that you don't just stick to 1 ideal buyer.
Ideally, you could define 3 or 4, each one applying to your prospects in each stage of the customer journey. That means that whether they're a to-be-qualified lead at the beginning of the journey who is just searching for information OR an ideal buyer who is ready to buy, you will be equipped to create and share relevant content that is hyper-focused on the prospect.
- Ideal Customer #1 might be someone who is an unqualified lead. A person you are tempting with your free lead magnet or free consult.
- Ideal Customer #2 might be a qualified lead who is actively searching for the right solution from your company.
- Ideal Customer #3 might be a qualified lead who needs more time.
- Ideal Customer #4 might be an actual customer -- what else are they looking for from your company? What other support might they need?
And when you do it this way, creating messaging will be easier because you'll have a clearer idea of what the ideal buyer is seeking, what the ideal buyer is saying or asking for, what the ideal buyer is doing and what the ideal buyer is feeling!
The next "Marketing Failure" and RAMP-based solution is closely intertwined with this one.
By incorporating this solution and the one following, you can ensure your marketing messages are persuasive and authentic and drive movement!
Marketing Fail #2: Keeping the Messaging Shallow
Marketing agencies, directors, and business owners face 2 big obstacles here:
- Not being clear about what their product or service solves
- Using a weak or inauthentic brand voice in their messaging.
As simple as this may sound, you'd be surprised to know that some marketing agencies and marketing directors don't have a clear understanding of what the product or service actually solves for their ideal customers.
Or, more often, they have a general idea of what it solves, but they don't really know why it's better than others.
This is the kind of weak brand voice that leads to super-general messaging and vague promises of "success."
It's the kind of stuff that makes prospects' eyes glaze over as they move onto a different company they actually connect to.
In today's world of infinite options, price points and vendor promises, consumers can compare and contrast all day long. And if you don't engage them in any meaningful way, then their buying cycle extends. This allows even more competitors to get in the door, making it more difficult for your brand to stand out down the line as the best option.
And if there's nothing notable, then they'll go with a competitor who might have a better price point or simply better copy!
Or, maybe they do go with your company in the end, but they associate the decision process as challenging and confusing. Or at the very least, not enjoyable.
Maybe you've had this experience yourself. I know I have. Nothing grabs you or seems to provide the exact solution you need, so you just go with "whatever." As a consumer, it's not the worst, but it doesn't inspire any kind of brand connection.
If you're a company just going for a sale, this isn't a problem. But if you're looking for repeatable sales and raving fans, then any vagueness is unacceptable.
It's the kind of stuff that makes prospects' eyes glaze over as they move onto a different company they actually connect to.
RAMP Solution: Go Deep with the Brand Voice
So how do you craft a brand voice that is authentic and actually speaks to the things your prospects care about?
You dive REALLY deep into defining the brand voice.
Yes, it does require a little bit of work at the outset, but it will be worth it!
Not only will it help you get incredibly clear about what your product or service does, it will give context to the problems it solves and the role your brand plays in your audience's lives.
This will give you a framework to craft your content, because you'll actually speak to what your customers are wondering about.
Below are just a few questions to ask yourself to get going in the right direction.
Answering the questions above will help with some major aspects of communicating with your prospects, but in order to really engage, you'll need to be prepared to clearly explain why your product is better than the competitors and how it's better at solving their core issues.
Clarifying this for your customers will make them feel at ease so they can be confident in choosing your product over competitors' options. It also empowers you to directly address the questions they are asking themselves, or wondering about, before they are willing to subscribe, or schedule a consult with you, or provide payment details.
We accomplish this by defining your brand's "secret sauce."
Here are a few questions from my agency's Marketing RAMP® to help you nail yours down.
Want hands-on marketing help to help define and then leverage YOUR secret sauce for more sales? Click the button below to talk with me!
Marketing Fail #3: Forcing All Prospects Down One Path
One big fail I've seen is that a lot of marketing campaigns lack meaningful goals and performance indicators, and instead just focus on the short-term metric -- did they buy?
Of course, conversions are important, but to negate the rest of the picture is a huge mistake in both short term relationship-building and long-term sales and growth.
A linear path to a sale is not how most of us behave and buy anymore.
Often, we'll do research, or we'll bookmark an item and come back later, or switch directions completely once we learn about a new feature or benefit that we want...
No matter how people get to that sale, one thing is certain: there is not one single path to purchase, so why do so many marketing efforts pretend that there is?
Maybe because using a linear funnel is how it has "always been?" And pushing prospects down one path is "easier" than trying out new approaches to see what works?
After all, it's probably impossible to address ALL customer needs and behaviors and different paths to purchase...
It's not if you use the right approach, and if you have marketing automation that is intelligent to use a little bit of logic.
RAMP Solution: Ditch the Funnel and Create a Dynamic Campaign
A couple months ago, I wrote about one big reason why you might be hitting the wall with your marketing. In that article, I talk all about the importance of designing your marketing strategy around the REAL customer journey.
That is, seeing your customers for what they're actually doing in reality, not just what you want them to be doing.
This solution directly builds on that concept of "Mapping the Customer Journey," which breaks down the many paths to purchase in stages, or micro-funnels. Each stage drives the prospect towards a specific goal.
Defining customer goals and then designing each stage around them is essential in improving the customer experience and your marketing results. The stages, like the many paths to purchase, are dynamic and changeable, not a straight line. Which means, customers and prospects may enter, exit, and re-enter stages multiple times, which is more fitting to real customer buying behaviors.
This is where the work we've done in the first two steps (to identify your target audiences and craft the brand voice) will help to identify your stages. Because you have mapped out your ideal buyers and their pain points, you are better equipped to determine the different customer stages in the journey.
This is exactly what the Marketing RAMP® is designed to do.
I broke this down in detail in my article "How to Transform the Customer Journey into a Scalable Buying Experience." Click the title or the button below and scroll down to the section "How to Map Your Prospect's Real-Life Customer Journey" to get the step-by-step details.
You can just read that section, or read the entire article. Either way, come back here and we'll keep on trucking!
Marketing Fail #4: Where's the Delight?
One of the biggest marketing fails is what I call a "failure to delight."
We already know that if you have a BAD buying experience with a brand, whenever possible, you are going to seek a different company to deliver the product or service you want.
But does a "delightful" buying experience make a difference?
YES! The better the buying experience someone has, the higher the perceived value of your brand.
Unfortunately, too many marketers forget that customers are willing to pay more for better experiences. Not only that, in today's day and age, customers expect to have great experiences with brands they interact with.
If you fail to meet that expectation and you have competition in your industry, then you can believe you'll lose a chunk of valuable customers.
RAMP Solution: Intentionally Build Delight
Everyone loves a delightful experience.
Your company should be focused on delivering the best possible experience for your prospects and customers along every stage of their Customer Journey. In fact, you should make it as intentional as possible.
In the Marketing RAMP® we often include an entire customer journey stage to build delight. Otherwise, we make sure we map out all the opportunities to provide prospects or customers with unexpected value. Sometimes this includes a short video from the founder, some valuable content they weren't expecting (content that ISN'T a direct ask for a sale!), or a post-purchase email designed to make them feel good by affirming why their purchase was a great decision.
Plus, as humans, we tend to remember those experiences that drive joy and satisfaction, and will share those experiences as referrals to our friends, family and coworkers.
You'll be surprised how the smallest effort to infuse delight into your customer experiences can deepen connections and spur brand loyalty and advocacy like you've never experienced.
Marketing Fail #5: The Wrong Team
There are thousands, if not tens of thousands of digital marketing agencies in North America alone.
It can be mind-boggling to search for one that you can trust to do it right.
But that doesn't mean you should settle for less than the best. If you want to grow your business, then you'll want whoever you're working with to have the team members, resources, and know-how to who are more than capable of guiding you to success.
If you end up hiring a marketing agency with no real strategic approach, you waste time and money and risk your company's reputation.
RAMP Solution: Hire a Marketing Agency with a Strategic Plan
Be sure you hire a certified marketing agency with a full-service team who has the experience and knowledge to ensure your projects are done to the highest standards.
They should have at least a 5-to-10-year track record of success, and be able to share testimonials and case studies with you.
And, if they're really good, they should always lead with strategy, like my marketing agency does.
We at Built by Love® don't take shortcuts. Because we lead with the Marketing RAMP® strategy, we prevent big marketing fails by ensuring the full picture is always accounted for, which leads to better results more consistently.
Plus, the RAMP provides data that allows our team and you to make informed optimizations to always be improving results.
So, if you're curious about what it's like to have a full-service marketing team on your side, schedule a consult with me to learn more.
My team and I can guide you through the Marketing RAMP® strategy; and, if needed, we can do all the work for you including the automation, copywriting, design, videography and anything else.