Why Your Marketing Isn't Working and How to Fix It

why your marketing isn't working
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Note: The following is a guest post by Franziska Iseli. Additional commentary is added by online business expert Brian T. Edmondson.

"I'm spending all this money on marketing but nothing is working!"

This is an all too common sentiment in the business world. Many exhaust their resources (and sanity) by spending money on stuff that doesn’t give them a great return.

One of the main reasons why a lot of marketing isn’t working as well as it could is because of how the business positions itself. Consciously crafting the perception others have of your business is equally as important as is selecting the right marketing channels.

It is your responsibility as a business owner to control how people view your business, product, or service. The good news is that you have the power and ability to influence this. It doesn’t really matter if you’ve been in business for a few decades or just a few days, the same principles apply when it comes to positioning your business.

Brian Edmondson: A common complaint I hear from entrepreners and business owners is that although they know they offer a superior product or service, their competitors get more business than they do. The reality is that no matter how much better your product or service is, unless you are doing a good job of communicating and influencing your prospects through marketing and advertising you'll lose potential new business to the competition.

There are three steps in this process.

1. Choose How You Want to Be Perceived

Firstly, you must choose . Yep, it really is a choice. If you don’t determine how your product, service, or business is going to be perceived, someone else will and it might not be ideal. There are two questions for you to determine your business’ (and your own!) image.

The first one is "How do you want your business, product or service to be perceived?"

This will help you define your brand’s character or personality, which forms the basis of your positioning.

The best way to answer this question is to ask yourself "if my business was a person, how would I describe him or her?"

You then use adjectives or descriptive words such as young, old, fresh, modern, adventurous, safe, cheeky, energetic, vibrant, fast to describe your business. The less conventional, the better. For example words such as experienced, quality and professional, don’t really say much—isn't this what everyone else is already saying?

Once you’ve figured out your brand character, let’s go to the second question "What do we want to be known for?"

Here you have to be very specific as you can’t be known for a million things. It’s humanly impossible to remember more than two, three things about someone or something. Narrow it down into the most important keywords for your business.

This could be safety, fun, lifestyle, simplicity, education, customer service, happiness, creativity, innovation.

Make sure you share the above with your team so they are all on board and pulling in the same direction. If you don’t have coherence you will confuse your market and confusion doesn’t sell.

Brian Edmondson: They key here is that you want to make your marketing more conversational and less "stuffy". People are more and more interested in doing business with companies that are more "lifestyle" and "expercience" based. By communicating in regular lanague you are able to communicate more effectively and relate more to your prospects and customers.

2. Differentiate Yourself to Stand Out and Get Noticed

Now that you’ve chosen how you want to be perceived, build on it. We live in a very busy world, getting bombarded by thousands of marketing pieces every day.

How are you ever going to stand out? How is anyone going to notice you?

You need to differentiate. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses copy each other plainly because they think "the other guy" has got it all figured out, but most likely he or she hasn’t. A lot of businesses just blend in rather than carve out their own uniqueness.

So rather than copying anyone else, how about doing things differently, doing things better? Or shall we say "disrupt" since it seems to be a very fashionable word at the moment. Either way, all you need to do is blow your customers’ mind with your awesomeness.

It's not just about getting noticed; you need to find ways to get noticed by the right people.

Here are two other great questions for you to get you started with this one. Someone smart once said that the quality of life depends on the quality of questions… or something like that. So here goes.

Ask yourself "What’s the frustration in my industry?".

Think about what people are frustrated about when working with someone in your industry.

Here's an example. A common frustration in service-based industries is that the service people often arrive late on the job. So an electrician decided to create a "we are always on time" guarantee. If any of his electricians arrive late for a job, the client gets $50, even if he or she is only one minute late. It didn’t take long for his business to create an awesome reputation.

The second question to ask yourself and others is "What would make working with a <insert your industry> irresistible?"

You’ll be surprised by how many great ideas you will get from your clients and friends. How about we set a challenge? Ask ten people in the next ten days and then implement the top three best ideas.

Brian Edmondson: A great point being made here is that many business owners simply look at what all the other businesses are doing and just copy their marketing and messaging because they figure it must be working for them. The problem with doing this is that you're marketing and messaging just looks the same as everyone else and you're not differentiating yourself.

3. Amplify Everything!

Ok, it’s time to ramp it up a notch! This is the really fun part because you basically take what you’ve figured out in step one and two and amplify everything!

Now you can get really creative and go completely nuts!

To get started, make a list of every touch point your business has with your prospects and customers. This could include phone calls, emails, social media, your shop or offices, your website.

Then think about how you can amplify your business’ personality and differentiation at each of these touch points.

Here's another example. If you’ve chosen quirky as one of your characteristics, how can you add more quirk to your different touch points? You could include a funny quote in your email signature, change your phone greeting to something more quirky, adjust your website copy, send a quirky direct mail to your prospects, give your clients something to smirk about.

You get the point. The amplifying stage is a continuous work in progress and requires a bit of courage and thinking differently. Why not include your team as a brainstorming activity?

It’s all about continuous never-ending improvements.

Do all of the above and you will see a greater return from your marketing efforts, guaranteed.

Franziska Iseli is a leading marketing strategist who specializes in positioning and branding. You can learn more about her at and her company Basic Bananas (), Australia’s leading marketing training organization. Connect with her on Twitter  and .