There is always a reason why your marketing doesn’t work. While there are often lots of small things that can be improved, there is often an underlying issue. Here are the three I typically find and some ideas on how to address them.


1. You’re measuring the wrong thing

Too often businesses either focus on the wrong measurements; a random selection of measurements; or what they can measure. It’s like training to run a marathon then judging yourself by how fast you can swim. Bit odd. Not very helpful.


Marketing is a process. It’s a process which helps businesses identify what they offer, whom to, and how. It’s a process which then supports the prospective customer at every single step of their journey to decide to purchase from you.


That means you need to have measurements in place for every step of the journey.

At a very basic level, you need to be measuring how many people:

  • know your business exists
  • have shown a further interest in what you sell
  • have actively considered you as an option
  • have purchased from you
  • are loyal to your business.


These are outcome measurements. These outcomes are achieved because you do a range of marketing activities, which you should also have metrics for. Read my blog, “Marketing Metrics – some fundamentals”, for more information.

Too often, businesses focus on one or two measurements. Instead, you need a marketing metrics dashboard – a range of measurements that show you how successful your activities are and if they are achieving the desired outcomes.


Quick example

Marketing objective: new client acquisition

To get 10 new clients per month, we know we need 20 enquiries.

For every 20 enquiries, we have 30 downloads of our, “Why choose us” sheet on our website.

To get 30 downloads of that, we need 100 people to be interested in what we offer. We measure that by the number of people who spend more than 3 minutes on our website.

To get these 100 people, we need to make 300 aware of what we do via advertising and networking.


So, our very basic Marketing Metrics Dashboard looks like this:

StageActivity MeasurementsOutcome Measurements
AwareMeet 50 new people at networking per month
Connect with 250 new people across social media each month.
300 new people aware of what we do
Interested100 people spending more than 3 minutes on our website100 interested people
Considering30 downloads per month20 new enquiries per month
Adopting15 contracts sent out to be signed10 new clients per month

You need to measure at every step of the process – not hone in on one or two measurements. This never gives you the full picture.



2. You don’t have a clear marketing plan

I blog a lot about the importance of having a Strategic Marketing Plan, a Tactical Marketing Plan, and then sticking to them. Many people I meet don’t have these marketing plans for their business.

If you don’t have clearly articulated strategic marketing objectives and have laid out the marketing objectives to achieve them, how can you expect your marketing to work? What do you think successful marketing looks like? How do you know? Your Marketing Plans should lay this out clearly.

marketing plan in my head

By the way, “the marketing plan is in my head” doesn’t count.

Nor does, “We kind of have a marketing plan”. If you can’t email it to me, then you don’t have a clear marketing plan.

It doesn’t count because as some point you will need to talk to bring other people in to help you execute your marketing plan.

Whether it’s telling the people you network with what type of clients you want (as described in your Strategic Marketing Plan) to briefing a web designer, graphic designer, social media expert, VA etc. it is easier to consistently and clearly brief people when you have a written down plan that you are working from. Which leads me on to one of the most typical reasons for your marketing not working – the wrong people.


3. You’ve brought in the wrong type of marketers

I find this the most upsetting reason: you’ve brought the wrong type of people in.

Typically, companies bring in marketing tacticians (do-ers) when they need marketing strategists (planners).

It’s upsetting for two reasons:

  • The business owner has wasted time, money and effort on bringing the wrong person in and they are frustrated, wary, and have been set back.
  • The marketing tacticians that were brought in or are in place get deflated, frustrated and lose confidence – they’re pretty sure they’re good at what they do but they have had a heap of expectations placed on them that they aren’t experienced or qualified enough to meet.

The results is upset, frustration, and wasted time and money.


Analogy wrong type of marketer

You’ve just bought a restaurant. It needs turning around. You find out there is an amazing pastry chef in town. You hire them.

They make amazing pastries – everyone agrees. But they don’t turn the business around.

They don’t set a five year plan for the restaurant which includes determining what you want to be known for (positioning). They don’t update the full menu – just the pastries. They hire a team who are okay but not amazing. They are a pastry chef – what did you expect?


This is what businesses do. They bring in a digital marketer/ general marketing tactician/ social media expert / copy writer and expect them to sort out all the marketing. You wouldn’t expect a pastry chef to turn a restaurant around so why have these expectations from a tactical marketer?



If you’re one of those smart business owners who knows their marketing isn’t quite working but you don’t know why, then it might be one of the these reasons.

Give me a call and we can chat it through – and then discuss a way forward so we can change it around and make sure that your marketing works beautifully.

Kara Stanford is a marketing strategist based in Hampshire, UK.


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