I’ve been a marketer for over a decade. In that time, I’ve talked to hundreds of prospects and now clients, and I’ve come to a conclusion that everyone suffers pretty much the same marketing problems with slightly different symptoms.
As a marketer, my goal is to help clients achieve marketing success. Everyone wants to achieve marketing success. This comes in various forms and shapes: more calls, more leads, more traffic, more sales.
With the convergence of marketing channels, changes in consumer behavior and advancements in technology, it’s often difficult to identify the path to marketing success.
Let’s discuss each of three of these common marketing problems, and how to address them.
Diagnosing a Marketing Problem
Like doctors, we marketers face common problems when it comes to finding a cure.
My first call or meeting with prospects is comparable to a consultation with a doctor. After initial greetings and required formalities, it’s down to business. Amazingly, it always starts out the same. The prospect discusses a perceived problem, provides a diagnosis and even proposes a treatment plan. It looks a bit like this:
perceived problem → root cause → treatment plan = marketing success
Just like a patient visiting his/her doctor, prospects have already scoured the web to learn about their problem. Reading blogs, industry content and other resources ... this is the equivalent of going through WebMD. After extensive reading, they’ve also found a root cause and one or multiple solutions to their problem.
Think of these as treatment options. They’re convinced they need to increase traffic to their site, they need to launch a paid search ad campaign, start a new website, or any combination of these and more.
So what’s missing? Confirmation from the expert and an actual prescription.
However, in my experience and thousands of interactions with prospects and clients, I’ve come to a simple conclusion that everyone has one of three problems: a visibility problem, a conversion problem, or a measurement problem.
The 3 Marketing Problems
1. The Visibility Problem
This is probably the easiest problem to uncover. If you’re not being found, whether locally or on the web, you have a visibility problem. Common symptoms of a visibility problem include:
- lack of foot traffic at a brick and mortar store
- low (or non-existent) traffic to website
- low phone call volume
- low (or non-existent) rankings on search engines
- competitors taking over search results pages
- low or lack of brand awareness
- lack of website or structural/technical website problems
- lack of thought leadership
A visibility problem can be solved with a proper online marketing strategy that may involve any, or a combination, of the following:
- search engine optimization
- paid search (PPC) campaign
- social awareness campaigns
- display advertising
- online PR and thought leadership campaigns
Most prospects I’ve spoken to have the diagnosis right when it comes to a visibility problem. Using tools like SEMrush, they can review the competitive landscape to identify where they lack in their online visibility. However, a visibility problem may not be everything. Oftentimes, a visibility problem may be masked by another problem.
2. The Conversion Problem
A conversion problem is most often misdiagnosed, as there may be a variety of underlying issues that may be resulting in less-than expected conversions. Symptoms of a conversion problem include:
- low form submission rates
- low-quality leads
- no closed leads come from the website
Converting prospects into clients is key for any business. While their first initial proposed treatment might be to increase traffic to the website to generate more leads via organic, paid, social or display campaigns, a conversion problem may have deeper roots. These include:
- a website that is not conversion-focused (not mobile-friendly, lack of phone number, lack of offers, no chat or easy-to-contact function, etc.)
- content and offers lack ability to encourage action
- internal staff disconnect between campaign goals and process
- converted leads are not properly tracked back to their source
- converted leads are not nurtured
Most of the problems with conversion arise from a poorly designed website. And by poorly it does not mean that the design lacks visual appeal. Oftentimes, websites may look beautiful but lack the basics of conversion such as quick access to a phone number, trial/demo or giveaway offers, no email subscription strategy, no content or persona-specific offers, or simply bad call-to-action designs.
In other cases, the problem is an internal issue whereby marketing, sales and support teams are not on the same page. For example, the pitch on your website is completely different than that of your real salespeople. Other times, a converted lead from your website is often disregarded or disqualified without even been given the light of day. I’ve heard countless excuses, such as “the company is too small to require our services/product," "the person inquiring is not in the right role or position," "the lead provided a personal email and not a corporate email,” etc. The list goes on.
As you probably guessed, solving the conversion problem is not an easy task, but must be resolved in order for companies to have a healthy pipeline of new potential clients to maintain or grow their business. This brings us to our next common marketing problem.
3. The Measurement Problem
Very often, prospects talk about how they tried a type of marketing campaign or channel, and it didn’t work; it was a waste of time and money. This typically leads them to find the next best option or treatment to achieve their marketing success goals.
A measurement problem can be characterized by:
- lack of website performance metrics (no Google Analytics tracking or other form of general website tracking)
- lack of knowledge of basic website traffic metrics
- lack of other channel tracking (phone calls, off-line campaigns, etc.)
- no existing CRM within a company
- no process of tracking leads or business opportunities internally
- a focus on insignificant metrics
Tracking everything you can, from phone calls down to the number of clicks your Facebook post received, is easier today than ever. Repeatedly, however, tracking is either not part of the marketing equation or is so primitive that it might as well be nonexistent. A phone call, for example, may have been generated by the latest paid ad campaign that is running or a recent ad in a trade magazine. When a prospect calls in, no one asks how they found the company or if they do, they fail to track properly and attribute the lead to the wrong channel.
When it comes to online marketing, most prospects who describe past efforts at marketing their business through strategies such as SEO, PPC or social media have little to show when it comes to metrics; no landing pages in place for PPC, no phone tracking, no ad performance tracking, nor any URL or conversion source tracking.
Without any real metrics to look at, it’s difficult to know if something really did or didn’t work. Tracking is key to making educated decisions and investing your marketing dollars wisely. Just like your doctor may review your family and medical history for clues about what may be causing your particular discomfort or illness, we marketers rely on metrics to make diagnoses. Tracking is what fuels changes in campaign direction or refinement of existing campaigns.
The Marketing Success Treatment Plan
When prescribing a treatment plan for clients, it’s important to not get carried away with the symptoms or the diagnoses the client has already identified or proposed.
As marketers, we have to look at the whole picture and identify all underlying causes to properly diagnose and treat the problem. Just like a doctor may require a battery of tests before making a final diagnosis, we also have to do some testing until we confirm the true root cause of the problem and prescribe a treatment plan.
Achieving marketing success is not easy, nor is it fast, especially when you suffer from multiple problems. The key is to make sure that you work hand-in-hand with clients to uncover the real root cause and also find the best treatment plan for them.
So next time you hear a prospect describe their perceived problem, be careful not to jump to any conclusions. Their problem will most likely fall into a visibility, conversion or measurement problem. Your job is to take analyze the symptoms and uncover the root cause before offering a treatment plan. After all, you don’t want them talking about your failed campaign to the next vendor.
Have you experienced any of these three problems within your business or as a consultant? Let us know in the comments!