Every business relies on its marketing to fuel growth. Effective marketing produces a steady, predictable flow of qualified leads for a business, which their sales team converts into paying clients. But if the flow of leads dries up, so does business growth.
This is a scary situation for any business owner. I've been there before, too. Sooner or later, you have to figure out how to get the leads flowing again or your business is in serious danger.
If you find yourself in this situation, here are five common culprits:
1. Your message is confusing.
As business owners, sometimes we're too close to the action. We spend so much of our time and energy working in our business that sometimes we forget how to communicate effectively to someone who doesn't have that same level of familiarity.
In my previous business, I worked closely with lawyers and saw this problem all the time. A potential client had simple questions, and the lawyers answered those questions with complex legal explanations that confused and intimidated their prospective clients. Keep your messaging simple. How does your product or service make life better for your customers?
2. Your brand isn't as attractive as it should be.
Customers and clients prefer to work with businesses that they know, like and trust. It's important that you build a brand that positions you as likable and knowledgeable in your area of service. If prospects don't trust you or aren't convinced that you're going to be able to help them, they're not going to hire you. It's that simple.
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Consider using blog entries and video content to strengthen your brand and build trust with your audience. Focus on providing practical information that they can use to make their lives or businesses better. For example, if you're a CPA, creating content like "Four Strategies to Reduce Your Tax Liability in 2019" or "How the Changes to the Tax Code Will Impact Your Business" could work well.
3. You're talking to the wrong audience.
Sometimes, the problem isn't with your product, service or even your marketing campaigns. Sometimes the problem is that you're pitching your business to the wrong audience -- one that doesn't need your business, can't afford your products or services or doesn't want to consume your offerings in that way that you provide them.
For example, Walmart is a successful business, but it doesn't market to luxury customers. If it did, it'd fail. It's the same reason that Neiman Marcus doesn't market to broke college students. If your marketing isn't performing, it's important to determine whether you're reaching the right audience. Are you communicating with people who have a desire for your products and services, and have the ability to pay for them?
4. You're asking for too much all at once.
Most customers and clients take some time to make a purchasing decision. And the more significant their investment, the more time they typically take. This means, for example, that a good portion of the traffic to your website or your social media sites consists of people who are doing their research but aren't ready to purchase yet.
What those people need is valuable information to help them make their decision when they're ready. Yet, most businesses focus their marketing on making immediate sales, rather than nurturing the relationship and guiding the buyer through their purchasing decision. Don't ask people to buy before they're ready. Instead, provide educational resources and nurture the relationship. If you do this effectively, there's a good chance that when the prospect is finally ready to purchase, you'll be their first choice.
5. You're giving up too quickly.
Effective marketing requires repetition and consistency. It's not enough to reach a prospective buyer once. It takes repeated touch points and engagements in order to drive action. I do a fair amount of work in political consulting, and one of the key principles is that it takes a minimum of six touch points with a voter to motivate them to go vote, and often far more. That's why, during political campaign season, voters are bombarded with messages, over and over, through a variety of different channels.
The same principle applies to your marketing. You need to reach your target market repeatedly. And you need to do it through different channels -- your website, social media platforms, email, direct mail, radio, etc.
If your marketing isn't working, your business is vulnerable. The good news is you can fix it and get your business back on track. Take the time to thoroughly audit your marketing plan and your marketing systems. Do you have a winning message? Have you built a brand that positions you as a trusted expert? Are you targeting the right market? Are you nurturing relationships rather than pushing for a quick sale? Are you reaching your target customers consistently or are you giving up too quickly?
Identifying the problem is the first step to finding a solution, so dive in!