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Why Your Marketing Isn’t Working (& How to Fix It)

by | Last updated: Jun 14, 2022 | Podcast

You spend so much time posting on social media or writing blog posts or sending newsletters to your email list. But no matter what you do (or how much), your marketing just. isn’t. working! You’re not seeing results in the form of new, paying clients. Today, I kick off a new series all about marketing that converts. In this first episode, I dive into the top three reasons why your marketing isn’t converting and how you can fix it.

On this episode of Promote Yourself to CEO:

3:10 – Do you only hear crickets when you get your message in front of people? I reveal two reasons why you might be making mistake #1.

7:26 – Fixing the first mistake involves doing something that the current marketing ecosystem ignores.

9:41 – Do you have a plan in place to prevent mistake #2? Here’s how to make sure you do.

15:17 – Mistake #3 is a big one and the basis for my upcoming marketing strategy intensive. It’s where I see gaps in people’s marketing strategy.

19:36 – I clarify attract marketing and discuss the pros and cons of the three primary attract strategies.

29:30 – Where should you begin with attract marketing strategies? I reveal where I always start.

Show Links

Do you feel like your marketing just isn't working? That even with all the time you spend on social media, writing blog posts, and sending newsletters, you're just not seeing the results you'd hoped in the form of new paying clients? If the answer is yes, you are going to want to listen to today's episode because we are kicking off a series all about marketing that converts. Today, I want to dive into the three top reasons that I see marketing not working and how you can fix it.

Are you ready to grow from solopreneur to CEO? You're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook. I've spent the last decade helping women entrepreneurs start and scale service-based businesses. If you're serious about building a sustainable business, it's time to put the strategy, systems, and support in place to make it happen. Join me each week for candid conversations about stepping into your role as CEO, the hard lessons learned along the way, and practical profitable strategies to grow a sustainable business without the hustle and burnout.

Hey there, CEO. I am kicking off a new series on the podcast. For the next few episodes, we're going to be talking about marketing that converts to paying clients. Because I am so tired of seeing so many entrepreneurs feeling overwhelmed, feeling like they are on this constant content creation hamster wheel like they have to be everywhere and they have to do all the things. Despite all of the time and energy that they're putting into marketing, they're just not getting results, they're not seeing the clients come through the door.

If that is you, if you feel so frustrated because you're trying to do marketing for your business and it's not bringing you in those paying clients, then let's dive in. Let's talk about the top reasons that your marketing isn't working, and most importantly, what you can do to turn it around.

Now I do want to announce that if this series is resonating with you, I am going to be hosting, for the first time in I think forever, a live intensive workshop. On July 19th, I am going to be hosting a marketing strategy intensive, a three-hour training to help you create your marketing strategy. If you are someone who feels like you have been spinning your wheels with your marketing, you're not sure what strategy is the best strategy for you, you feel like there's probably a gap in your marketing somewhere, you just can't put your finger on why it's not working, I would really encourage you to sign up for this live training.

We are going to go deep and you will walk away with a clear foundational marketing strategy that you can layer onto as you continue to scale and grow your business. Get all those details, the link is in the show notes. Let's get into this episode all about the three reasons your marketing isn't working and how you can turn it around.

Mistake number one is lack of clarity. If you are getting your message out in front of people and it's not getting a response, you're not seeing any replies to your emails, you're not seeing engagement on your social media, you're sending things to people, you're putting your information about your business in front of people and there's nothing, it's like crickets, then chances are your messaging isn't clear.

Now, I usually see this for two reasons. There are two reasons that we might have a clarity problem. First is the curse of expertise. You may be using language that your clients don't understand yet simply because they are not as educated as you are about your topic. They don't know as much as you do. They haven't been in that world as long as you have. Your messaging might be good if you were talking to other experts, but for your audience, for your potential clients, they don't get it. It's going over their head. It's not connecting with where they are right now.

I often say in The CEO Collective, when we have the curse of expertise, we have to remember we're the expert, this is what we do for a living so we're on like level 10 of expertise in this topic area. Our potential clients are often at level one, level two. They're just getting started. They don't really understand yet what you do. You have to take a step back and consider what they are thinking, what they are feeling so that you can meet them where they are and deliver exactly what they need.

Meeting them where they are often means really pulling yourself back to what the actual symptoms are that they are experiencing. Because to be honest, most of the time when our potential clients are looking for us, they aren't solution aware. They don't understand that your solution, your product, program, or service is the perfect fit yet. They usually are just at the beginning of becoming problem aware, of truly understanding what the actual problem is that they're trying to overcome. But they are symptom aware and we need to meet them exactly where they are in our marketing strategy.

If you skip over the symptoms and don't guide them through the educational process so that they can understand what the bigger problem is, what the bigger picture is, they will never understand why your product, program, or service is the perfect fit for them. That's the curse of expertise. A lot of us struggle with this. If you are writing, creating content, or creating marketing messages and your peers are resonating with it but your clients are not, you may be struggling with this one and it means we need to get back into the customer research.

The second is trying to be cute, clever, or creative, and instead, it's just confusing. This is messaging that starts to sound pretty, but I promise you, clarity trumps clever, clarity trumps cute, clarity trumps creativity. You don't want to be making up a word salad that sounds pretty but no one actually understands what it means.

If you're trying to explain what you do and people aren't going, “Oh, I totally understand what that means,” if instead they're like, “I still don't really understand what it is that you do,” then we need to go back to the drawing board. We need to look at the language your potential clients are using to describe their problems and their needs and then reflect their language in your messaging.

The best copywriters know that the copy they use, the words they use to describe the problem they're solving, to describe the challenges their clients are having, they're not pulling these out of thin air, they're doing voice of customer research. They're really digging in to understand how their potential clients are thinking and talking about their experience.

How can we fix this? How can we fix a lack of clarity? We ask people. It's the voice of customer. We ask people and have real conversations. Now this is something that honestly, I feel like in the current marketing ecosystem that's out in the world, a lot of the marketing education out there just totally skips over the value of doing marketing research and talking to actual people, and instead, they want to give you these fill in the blank templates and things to just start throwing out there. But if you're not connecting and they're not understanding what you have to offer, then we need to go back to good old-fashioned customer research, we need to do some market research, we need to have real conversations with real people.

One of the things we teach inside of The CEO Collective is the 100 conversation challenge. The 100 conversation challenge is something we have been talking about for well over a decade. It's where when you are taking the time to get your newest product, program, or service up and running, especially if you're a newer business owner, you're going in a newer direction, talk to 100 people. Talk to 100 potential clients and really take the time to dig in and understand what's going on for them.

I've had two clients that I've interviewed for the podcast, Tami Hackbarth and Mado Hesselink, they both talked about when they did the 100 conversation challenge. Both of them shared that when they went through the process of doing this research, they were really surprised because they both thought they knew the reasons why their clients were experiencing the challenges they were challenging. But when they interviewed them, they learned and got clarity on what was really happening underneath that surface level. That new perspective is what helps to take marketing that isn't working and revise it to meet the needs and concerns of your clients.

The second mistake is lack of consistency. You have to be honest with yourself here, are you consistent with your marketing? I usually see that especially for entrepreneurs who are in the stage where they've been in business for a while and they're juggling doing the marketing, doing the sales, doing the customer delivery, doing all the behind the scenes operations, it gets pretty busy running a business to say the least. But if you don't have a plan, you don't have a strategy to stay consistent, then you inevitably end up in that feast or famine cycle where once your clients wrap up their program or their service with you, you have to go out there and hustle up more new clients and it is just such an exhausting cycle.

If your clients are going to trust you that they're going to sign up and pay to work with you in some way, shape, or form, they're going to trust that you are a reliable person that is going to deliver the results you promise, then you need to build that know, like, and trust through showing up consistently.

It's really hard to build know, like, and trust if you're showing up only when you're trying to pitch to people. That's like going on a date with somebody and then they ghost you for six months and then they call you again saying, “Hey, you want to hook up?” You don't want to do that to your clients, you want to be building a steady foundation with them and a steady relationship with them.

Building trust does take time. No one trusts people when they only show up when they are pitching and asking for the sale. They trust you when you show up, deliver value, and actually show that you're a person who cares about them. That is where consistency comes in. The consistency is so key.

How can you fix this? How can you fix consistency? A plan and a calendar. Create and stick to a calendar and make sure you have a plan for what you are going to be implementing on that calendar. Decide how often you are going to be doing your marketing activities. If you're doing your core nurture content, like a blog post, a podcast, or a video, you want to probably do weekly, if you can't commit to weekly, every other week.

But if you spread it out too far, if you're only doing monthly or quarterly, then you fall off people's radar. They're just not going to be as aware of you and also you're really limiting how many times a year you can get your marketing message in front of them. If you're committing to weekly, that means you have 52 pieces of content going out a year. Let's say 50 just to make the math simple. You can give yourself a break for like two weeks a year, but if you are going to show up consistently 50 weeks a year, you will build that know, like, and trust with people. They will know that you are reliable because you show up every week like clockwork.

Reliability is really, really important in building relationships through marketing. If you are depending on more leveraged marketing, more online marketing, then consistency is super important. You don't have the advantage of building that face-to-face relationship, face-to-face relationships can be built without seeing people all the time because it's a deeper relationship that forms. You actually see people in real life. But if you're depending on content, if you're depending on emails, you're depending on podcasts, then consistency will go a long way. At least once a week or every other week.

Then ask yourself what other nurture content is going out there for you. Are you posting on social media? Then I want you to be thinking about how often are you going to commit to posting on social media so that you're consistent on that platform. If you're not consistently posting, then all of these social media platforms are not going to push out your content to every single follower. You have to make sure you're posting often enough that throughout the week, they're likely to see it.

How often are you going to email people? If you're depending on an email newsletter, how often is that going to show up in people's inbox? Can we make that consistent? Again, I would rather you drop down the frequency, so instead of doing weekly, doing every other week, than fall off and just have nothing going out for a long period of time. Because that breaks trust. People feel like you're not as reliable, and people will start to forget about why they signed up to hear from you, they'll forget what you do because it's no longer on their radar.

You want to make sure you are building that trust, that you know what frequency you are putting out content for each channel that you are using to market, and that you are sticking to that. If doing weekly is too much for your core content or your newsletter, drop down to every other week, whatever will allow you to show up consistently.

The third mistake—and this is a big one. This is really what the whole upcoming marketing strategy intensive is going to be all about because this is where I see gaps in people's marketing strategy—and that is the lack of building a marketing strategy around the customer journey. If you are not building your marketing strategy with a clear understanding of what the customer journey looks like for your potential clients as they become paying clients, then you're going to spend a lot of time and effort on marketing and not see the results that you're hoping for.

Let's dig into this. Is your community growing or are you talking to the exact same people again and again and again? The customer journey is the path that potential clients go through from the moment they first hear about you and your business and your brand all the way through to becoming paid clients. This is the journey we all go through whenever we're making a buying decision. Whether we realize it or not, we're going through these different stages of the customer journey.

If you're just creating content without understanding what stage of the journey you're creating that content for, then it's not going to move people to the next step and the next step and the next step towards becoming a paying client. Your marketing needs to fill in each of the five steps of the customer journey.

Now the biggest thing that I see people making a mistake around the customer journey is they only focus on nurture content. This is content that is understood, clear, and valuable to current clients and current community members. But here's the thing, if you're only focused on nurturing your current clients and your current community, over time you will see attrition because people lose interest, people unsubscribe, people no longer need the service that you're offering.

If you're only talking to the same people again and again, and you're not adding new people to talk to, then at some point, you're going to burn out your community. You're no longer going to have any potential clients there. There's just no one else to convert at that point. Your marketing may not be working because you're only focused on that nurture stage, you're only focused on the people who already know who you are and you're not attracting new people towards that community.

This is hands down the biggest thing that I see is that people get focused on thinking social media, a newsletter, and a blog post are all they need and then they wonder why they're just not getting the clients they want or they're not getting the growth that they want because they're not doing enough attract marketing.

How do we fix this? How do we fix the attract marketing? When it comes to attract marketing, it is all about how do you get new people, brand new people who've never heard about you before to hear about you for the very first time? This takes a lot of courage because yes, it is putting you out in front of brand new people, it is often going to be putting you in front of sometimes maybe a little bit of a vulnerable situation because when you're going after more visibility in your business, it often means, as the business owner, you've got to take bigger risks. You've got to pitch yourself more. You've got to make bigger asks. You've got to go after new opportunities to get in front of new potential clients.

If you're struggling to grow your community, if you're not seeing your email list grow, if you're not seeing your social media following grow, if you're not seeing your client base grow, then chances are we need to shift to attract marketing; marketing that gets out in front of brand new people.

Let's spend a little bit of time talking about what attract marketing is because I want to make sure you're really clear about the difference between attract marketing and the other types of marketing that you may be considering or that you may have attempted in your business. There really are three primary attract strategies; three categories that I consider when I'm looking at growing your community, growing your audience, growing the number of potential clients who are hearing from you. You don't have to do all three, you need to choose one to get started, and again, be really, really consistent with it. But let's talk about these three core strategies and I'll talk through some of the pros and cons of each.

Attract strategy number one is organic search. Making search engines a part of your attract strategy means making sure that when people are looking for information, your business is the one that shows up in the search results. Think about this, people are searching for information every single day. Obviously, Google is the biggest search engine in the world. If people are typing in “how do I get my kid to stop crying at night at bedtime?” they're going to pull up a list of search results. If your business happens to have an article that's in the top of those results, you're more likely to get found by those parents looking for some support.

Other search engines you might think about, YouTube is a search engine. YouTube is a massive search engine. It's a video search engine. Pinterest is a search engine. These all allow people to go type in the words in their words what they are looking for and see instant results.

What I like about search is when people are actively searching for a solution, they are the ones who are actively saying, “Hey, I need help with this thing right now.” They're raising their hand by typing in and searching for whatever the solution is to their challenge. That means they're in a really good state to continue getting information from you. This is a huge pro.

Another huge pro is this is free traffic. As you focus on search engine optimization, you will build credibility over time. It will help you to rank higher and higher in the search engines as you make sure that your content, your website is optimized. You may be able to just grow your audience by focusing on creating valuable search optimized content.

Now the biggest con that I see with SEO is it does take time. It is more of a longer term strategy. It takes time to optimize your site unless you're going to become an SEO expert, which you can totally go do all the education and training about SEO, but you might find yourself needing to hire somebody to help you do the optimization, especially if you're not wanting to learn all of the ins and outs in SEO.

But what I do find even if you're not becoming an SEO ninja, the biggest part of search engine optimization is making sure, again coming back to clarity, you understand what people are typing in, what they are looking for, and you're creating content that answers those questions, getting that content ranked over time to drive that organic traffic. It is an intensive strategy. It is still creating a lot of content and it is really understanding how search impacts how people find you.

That's one option. I think it's a fantastic option if you like creating a lot of content, if you want to really focus on learning how to do SEO for yourself or hiring somebody to support you in doing that.

The next strategy is other people's audiences. Now this is my personal favorite. Other people's audiences is my favorite way. If you are an expert in your field, I find that getting in front of other people's audiences is an amazing way to build up your authority and your credibility and grow your audience really quickly. You have to remember other audiences out there, other organizations, businesses, and individuals have these audiences that they're looking to create content and value for on a regular basis.

In a way, this is a cheat code. Instead of building an audience from scratch, you are getting in front of those potential audiences. You can do this even when you're brand new to your business or your earlier on to your business. When I was first getting started in my business, I would go out and collaborate with other small business owners, I would partner with them, I would host workshops, I would host lunch and learns.

Even though that was back in the early 2000s, it works both in person and it translates online. It translates across any different way that you would want to leverage your connection to someone else and get in front of their audience. You can offer to write a guest blog post, an article, speak or be interviewed on their podcast, or be interviewed for their video series. Maybe you become involved in a speaker series or a summit. Maybe you collaborate as a guest teacher by teaching a master class like I did a few weeks ago. You get in front of someone else's audience whether it's free or paid, and you showcase your experience and your expertise.

The best part about getting in front of other people's audience is this is a great way to make sure you're getting in front of audiences who are likely aligned and looking for the types of things that you have to offer and that are usually willing and able to pay for your product, program, or service.

What is a pro here? The pro is free marketing, unless, again, you're paying somebody to support you with this. But if you are willing to learn how to pitch yourself and pitch yourself for that interview, pitch yourself for the morning show, pitch yourself for the speaker series, pitch yourself to speak on stage at that conference, if you are able to do that, you can get in front of so many potential qualified clients and you will gain credibility from any individual or organization that you associate with.

Think about it. A lot of the experts you follow, if you go to their website, they probably have an “as seen in” section where you can see Racheal was in Forbes, Racheal was in Fast Company, Racheal was in Inc. All of that comes from getting in front of those audiences by pitching to write an article for them, pitching to be an expert inside of an article, or being interviewed by that person. You do gain that credibility and authority because you've collaborated with them.

Now the biggest con to other people's audiences is it takes being confident. You have to get over all of your visibility gremlins. I know I definitely have. You have to be consistent and you have to be resilient because pitching yourself takes effort. It's not every single pitch is going to get a yes. In fact, I would say one out of every five to ten pitches gets a yes for us. I think we're somewhere at like a 10% to 20% yes rate to any cold pitches. You do have to know that you have to put in some time and effort. It's going to be some volume. It's going to be some follow-up if you are cold pitching yourself.

It's okay if you get a no because you might get a no right now and then you can go return and pitch them again in the future. I often get people who say, “Hey, I'm currently booked up for podcast interviews, but circle back with me in six months,” and you better believe, we put a note in the calendar and circle back with them.

I'll also say when it comes to getting in front of other people's audiences, you don't just have to cold pitch in order to make that happen. You can leverage your existing network for opportunities. Currently, I do about three to four interviews a month and I would say about half of them come from cold pitching and half of them come from people who are already in my network.

Because I am on a regular basis following up with people, connecting with people, staying on top with what my colleagues are doing, it's easy for me to reach out and say, “Hey, I'm looking to do some more podcast interviews. Are you interested in having me on your show?” Because I have that warm introduction, of course, we get a lot more yeses to them. I don't have to do as many as when we're doing cold pitching. But other people's audiences, if you are an expert and you want to be seen as an expert, hands down one of my favorite strategies.

My third attract strategy would be paid advertising. Now I want to just put this disclaimer out there, please do not start with paid advertising unless you know you can convert that traffic into sales. I say this because advertising feels like an easy button to a lot of people. You just turn it on and it sends instant traffic your way. But it doesn't mean that that traffic is going to convert into sales. Just because 100 people land on your sales page doesn't mean that 100 people are going to buy.

I always start my attract strategies with the free ones first. I focus on what I can do first for free with my own time and energy. I can make sure my marketing is working and then I look for support as I'm able to buy more help from other people. I'm no longer pitching myself, I have a team that pitches for me and I hired them simply to take that part of cold pitching off of my plate.

I always start with free first. I make sure the strategy works for me. I'm consistent with it, and then as I need more support, I could hire it and know that it's going to pay off, I'm going to get that ROI. I want you to think about it, if people who are coming for free aren't signing up for your free thing—so you have a free challenge you're running, you're having a webinar that you're running, or you're having a free guide that you're offering and you're trying to get people to sign up for it with Facebook ads or Instagram ads—if they aren't signing up for it, then people aren't going to just go straight and buy from you either. You really want to make sure your marketing is working, your messaging is working before you invest heavily in advertising.

There's a lot of opportunity with advertising right now. I'm not going to do a whole episode on advertising just because I feel like it's changing a lot, it has been changing a lot in the last few years. I would say this is the most advanced attract strategy. You really have to be on top of it in order to make sure you're going to get the ROI.

The pro is speed. The biggest pro to advertising is it's the fastest way to send people to your website; and if everything converts, grow your audience, get more clients. There's a direct correlation between how much you spend and how much traffic you get.

The con is the cost. It is a barrier to entry and it's I think something that you really want to think about before you start investing in advertising is make sure your marketing and messaging can work and convert. When your conversion is working, then it's worth starting to experiment and add some advertising dollars to it.

There you have it, friends. I hope you enjoyed this episode; the top three reasons why your marketing isn't working. Clarity is huge. Clarity is one of the biggest reasons that no matter what you do, you're not getting results. Lack of consistency, another huge one. Finally, lack of a customer journey, especially not doing enough attract marketing. If you're not doing enough attract marketing, you're just going to continue to have a smaller and smaller and smaller pool of potential clients, which means your business will not grow.

I hope this was helpful. If you want to dive into this even more with me and dig even deeper into how we can build out your attract strategy, how we can build out your engage strategy, and your nurture strategy, and have the consistency and have the clarity, then please come get all the details, link is in the show notes to join us for the marketing strategy intensive coming up on July 19th. I hope this is helpful and I look forward to talking to you next time.