You’ve invested time, money, and effort into a full-blown marketing strategy. Yet the results seem to be all over the board. Even with consistent marketing efforts, you can’t seem to gain traction or generate predictable cash flow. One week, you feel successful; the next week, you see numbers take a nosedive.
What gives? Should you hire a different marketer, completely revise your campaigns, or put extra dollars into untapped marketing platforms? Maybe. Or maybe not.
The problem you’re experiencing might not have anything to do with your marketing at all. In fact, many business stumbles that appear marketing-related at first glance are due to other business decisions.
Before ditching or revamping your current marketing efforts, consider the following four areas of your operations. See if one of them might be the actual cause of problematic revenue or lead generation issues.
1. Your supply chain isn’t airtight.
From the products you sell to the ones you purchase for in-house use, everything you buy falls into your company’s supply chain. However, if the supply chain isn’t dependable and priced competitively, not to mention aligned with your company mission, you could experience challenges when it comes to serving customers and working efficiently.
How can you spot a supply chain dilemma? Go through your supply chain now. Is one of your suppliers constantly behind schedule or providing subpar items? Could you be overpaying because you’re a startup? Joining a group purchasing organization could help you avoid snags from attempting to work directly with suppliers. Additionally, you might want to renegotiate with each of the providers you use to ensure you’re getting as much as you can for each dollar.
In terms of dealing with a supplier who’s not like-minded, you may need to look elsewhere for one who is. For instance, if you tout your corporation as environmentally forward-thinking, but your main suppliers are known for their questionable eco-choices, your sales and reputation will suffer. Always conduct a mission-vision litmus test on potential supply chain providers to avoid being connected with questionable entities.
2. Your employees feel disengaged.
Although Gallup analyses have determined that employee engagement is headed upward, it’s still at a surprisingly low 34 percent. Consequently, a full two-thirds of your workers may be disengaged. When a staffer experiences disengagement, he or she tends to produce less, be more likely to leave, and offer very few creative solutions.
How does workforce disengagement affect marketing? Let’s say prospective customers respond to marketing advertisements or place orders. They have understandably high expectations based on the marketing materials that attracted them. If your team members don’t deliver on those expectations — or even exceed them — those customers will be apt to take their business elsewhere.
To rectify this concern, you may want to anonymously gauge your staff’s feelings about work. Send out a survey requesting honest feedback. The information you glean can inform your personnel decisions moving forward.
From tightening your workplace culture to providing personnel with better professional development opportunities, the opportunities available to increase engagement are practically endless. Gallup even found that businesses with extremely low engagement rates were able to boost engagement by 50 percentage points by making changes. But if you choose to do nothing, your company’s disengagement levels will erode your marketing efforts.
3. You’ve targeted the wrong markets.
Maybe your market is too broad. Perhaps it’s too narrow. Either way, you’ll waste marketing dollars, lose customers, and hand business to your competitors.
How do you know if you’ve been barking up the wrong tree when it comes to wooing people to your brand? The signs can be all over the board. Nevertheless, a surefire one is that it’s very hard to convince consumers to try your product or service. Another indicator of incorrect targeting is that your sales flows are inconsistent, making it impossible for you to develop a sales cycle or rhythm. Finally, if you keep getting new buyers from unexpected places, you probably haven’t developed your target market thoroughly.
Sound familiar? Go back to the drawing board. Take a deeper look at the people who absolutely love what you offer. What commonalities do they share? Is it their socioeconomic status? Generational cohort, such as Millennials or Boomers? Belief system? Map out personas for your top three to five buying bases. Then, retarget your marketing toward each of those personas to build stronger, more loyal cadres of customers.
4. You’ve over-diversified your offerings.
This problem falls under the category of trying to be everything to everyone. It’s a common issue in businesses of all sizes. After all, it’s tempting to try to constantly add new SKUs to your website or items to your shelves.
Over-diversification tends to water down your branding, though. Instead of being a company that does one thing really well, you become a company that does a lot of little things acceptably. If you want to be known for your expertise, you need to become more of a niche provider.
Think of Starbucks. Its branding stands for something bigger than coffee, although coffee and coffeehouse culture remain at the giant’s core. If Starbucks decided to sell software under the Starbucks name, the public would be confused. How do coffee and cloud-based platforms mesh? They don’t.
Examine your offerings, and go on a serious soul-searching expedition. Are there ways that you could simplify your products, thereby also streamlining production costs? Have you lost the laser-focused purpose that drove you to start your organization in the first place? The further you veer from your core mission, the more you risk diluting your marketing messages. Getting back to basics can be a refreshing way to re-energize your brand, not to mention turn on a lagging sales funnel.
It doesn’t matter if the local, national, or global markets are up or down: People will still buy products and services. If your marketing should be working, but isn’t, investigate other areas of your company. After you name the problem, make changes and watch your marketing pick up steam — and your profit margins, too.