Old-time comedian W.C. Fields once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”
While that line is good for a laugh, it’s not the most helpful approach when it comes to marketing your business. Yes, you may ultimately decide you’re being a damn fool with what you’re doing (and you may feel exactly that way right now).
But before you throw in the towel on That Thing You’re Currently Doing, there are a few scenarios you might want to test out to see if you can turn things around.
1. You’re doing the right thing, but you’re doing it badly.
Imagine for a moment that it wasn’t you who was engaging in this particular marketing activity, but someone else that you were paying fair market wages to do the same job. Six months ago you handed it off to them, said “Go get ‘em, tiger”, and sent them on their way.
Now, let’s also imagine that today you came back and reviewed their last six months of effort (which is equal to YOUR last six months of effort) on that particular marketing front. Keep in mind you’ve been cutting payroll checks for them for 24 weeks by now.
Would you consider what they’ve been doing to be worth the money? Or would you kind of throw up a little and think “Oh my God, I’m PAYING for this?”
It’s easy to say something like “Yeah, I’ve been trying blogging and it’s not really getting me any traffic”, because that’s playing down the issue. But if it turns out the real issue is your posts kind of suck and you’re barely putting anything out there … it’s not fair to say “blogging isn’t working.”
If you know in your objective heart of hearts that what’s been going on wouldn’t meet expectations in an employee, that’s a sign that the real problem (at least in part) is that the job is just being done badly.
That’s good news.
That means if you get honest about how to fix it, you can do so relatively fast and start seeing results.
2. You’re doing the right thing, but you’re not doing enough of it.
If you spent a dollar on advertising, you wouldn’t expect it to work.
If you spent a million dollars on advertising, you’d sure hope it would.
Somewhere in between those two numbers is a “reasonable” amount that a business could expect to spend and end up with some profit. (Hint: The answer isn’t two dollars.)
Whatever you’re doing that isn’t working right now has some kind of sweet spot where results start taking place.
You can’t know exactly what that is by intuition alone, but you can get a gut feel for if you’re doing too little of it to reasonably work.
Imagine with me again – let’s say someone started a business that was different than yours, and decided to use the same marketing strategy you did. How much effort would you think was “enough” for them? What would be a reasonable ballpark?
If that’s way more than you’re doing now, then the fix you’re looking for may be as simple as “do that thing, but do it more.”
3. You’re doing the right thing, but you’re haven’t been doing it for long enough.
Marketing isn’t the first industry that has tried to tell you that AMAZING results can be had in as little as 7 days. But this is rarely how the real world works.
Most of the time, you have to bang away at it for long enough until whatever you’re doing takes off.
How long are we talking about? Can’t say. Depends on too many things. But most things that take off do so on a trajectory.
Check your current results. If what you’re doing is working in any sense of the word, then that’s a good sign. You may just have to wait it out.
In advertising the maxim is you generally need “13 exposures” to an ad before you’ll seriously consider buying. That means you have to keep exposing people to the advertisement and wait.
Waiting’s no fun. I, personally, would like a million dollars by Wednesday.
But there’s a difference between slow growth and no growth.
In the pre-internet world, most businesses understood that it might take them three years to become profitable. With the internet, you can certainly shorten that time. But it doesn’t mean it will happen fast.
Think of the thing you’re doing, and ask yourself if you’ve been doing it long enough for it to work. If you’re uncertain, ask around and find out how long it took other people to make it work. The answers will probably surprise (and comfort) you.
Very rarely will you be doing the WRONG thing.
Yes, sometimes you will be going in the wrong direction entirely. If you’re pouring time and money into Facebook to corner the Amish market, yes, that may be the wrong strategy.
But if your marketing strategy makes sense in principle – as in, 100 impartial people could hear what you’re attempting and say “That sounds reasonable”, then it’s probably one of the above.
And in that case, it’s not “try, try again”.
It may be “try, but do it better from now on.”
It may be “try and do more of it than you’re currently doing.”
It may be “keep trying it and give it time to work.”
But you’re not doing the wrong thing.