Why Saying "I Tried Marketing, it Didn't Work” is Totally Wrong

Yesterday, I bumped into an old colleague of mine from back when I was a financial advisor. He was still working for the same company, but had risen to the ranks of partner. It was good to catch up with him and shoot the breeze about how the company was progressing and who was still there and who had left etc.

We got talking about what I was doing and how I had moved on into the world of digital marketing, and I asked him how they were currently attracting new business. Their strategy at the moment was to cold call people from the phone book and, although they got some success with it, it was nothing to shout about.

Naturally, I suggested a chat about whether digital marketing could help them generate more leads and customers, and his response was, “we tried that once and it didn’t work. The internet doesn’t work for us!”

I pressed him on what they had actually done and he told me that they’d spent some money on Google AdWords, done some social media posts and a couple of blog posts. However, it hadn’t brought in any business and therefore they stopped doing it, reverting back to the old cold calling methods instead.

I explained to him that to say “we tried digital marketing once” was a fundamentally flawed way of thinking. It’s the equivalent of me saying to him, “I invested some money once, it didn’t make me a fortune so I stopped”, and that he had a case of Bananarama syndrome - “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it, that’s what gets results.”

So, where did they go wrong? After further debate, we uncovered a number of issues as to why his attempt at digital marketing didn’t work:

  1. They dabbled in lots of individual tactics - a few social posts, a small ppc budget, a couple of blog articles. They had no strategy in place to join up all the activity, no goals, no plan and no direction.
  2. They are financial advisers, not digital marketers. In this case, one of the partners who also writes their newsletter was tasked with the activity. Digital marketing is a skill that takes an investment in time to learn. It has many different disciplines and the technology changes on an almost daily basis. To use digital as a strategy to drive new leads and new customers into your business, requires people that are skilled and knowledgeable in their trade.
  3. They didn’t give it time. Results in digital marketing don’t happen overnight. Yes there are quick wins that can be had, but to develop a machine that creates a sustainable and predictable lead source takes time and effort, and involves constantly implementing new ideas and testing current activity with a view to optimising results.
  4. They tried it once. This just doesn’t work. Digital marketing isn’t a set-and-forget activity that you try once and then bin if you don’t get the results that you wanted. Agreed, you don’t pursue an activity if you’ve fully tested it but in this case they hadn’t done that at all. For example, they had one Google AdWords campaign, with one ad group that had 30 different keywords in it, all displaying the same generic ad and sending the traffic to the homepage. They hadn’t tested different landing pages, different ad copy or looked at their search reports to add negative keywords. The result being that they had a lot of irrelevant traffic going to their home page that didn’t have any call-to-actions or any conversion path on it. Therefore they were spending a lot of money, but didn’t generate any leads.

I could continue to write about all of their issues all day long, but the purpose of this blog isn’t to pick holes in their strategy, but to demonstrate that you can’t just say, “I tried it once and it didn’t work”. Digital marketing, as with any marketing activity, is an ongoing process; a process which needs constant review, testing and measuring, tweaking content, adjusting settings, setting targets, monitoring KPIs and constantly looking to improve on them.

Getting the best results and return requires expertise of either an individual or team of people who are passionate about digital and are kept up to date with the latest news, technologies and practices. If it’s a secondary role for someone in your company that is also busy doing their “main” job, then quite simply you won’t get the results that you could and you’re potentially leaving money on the table.

If you are serious about getting results from digital, then my advice would be either to hire someone to run your campaigns, train up existing staff and ensure that they have the appropriate time, or outsource the work to an agency.

Our content includes affiliate links. This means that we may receive a commission if you make a purchase through one of the links on our website. This will be at no cost to you and helps to fund the content creation work on our website.