How to Tell if Your Early Stage Marketing Strategy is Working (and When to Pull the Plug)
Kyjean Tomboc finished nursing school but found joy in plucking and stringing words to create value-driven content for brands in the health, life sciences, and lean startup niches. She loves everything strategic in creating content -- from CRO to SEO to SMM to UX (the Internet sure loves acronyms!). Her current obsessions include the human gut microbiome, A/B testing, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Kyjean is also a seasoned trekker.
How do you know if your marketing efforts are working?
You're blogging regularly, making the right hires, and staying up to date on all the latest digital marketing tactics. You knew success wouldn't be immediate, but still, things aren't moving fast enough to make you feel comfortable.
Should you call it a day because you’re not seeing results?
How to Know If Your Marketing is Working or Not
Carol Eves had a great idea one sunny afternoon—she was going to plant a garden for the first time in her life. She walked into the backyard and picked the perfect place for the garden.
She could see it all in her mind's eye...
Homemade tomato soup for winter...
Yummy, fresh peppers and corn...
So she decided she would get to work right away growing her own vegetables.
There was a lot of work to do first.
She had to clean up the backyard and spend an entire morning and afternoon working with a very temperamental rototiller. She fixed up some tomato beds and rushed to the store to buy compost and seeds. Then, she planted the seeds in cups (after watching YouTube tutorials) and transplanted them as seedlings.
She was very excited!
A week later, she had nothing to show for all her efforts.
Did she get disappointed?
Carol understood she could only do so much. Time had to do the rest. She had done the right things. The hard part was continuing to do the right things while waiting for the sprouts to show.
Unless you’re using Mooncalf Dung as fertilizer, tomatoes don’t grow overnight.
As strange as it may sound, this analogy applies to marketing as well.
Unless you're willing to spend a lot of money to have instant results, you have to build the right system—and give it enough time to work.
Early Stage Marketing: Focus On Delivering Awesome
Like your gardening to-do list, where you have to work on your beds and seedlings, your early stage marketing initiatives should focus on deliverables. You're in the planting and watering stage. You do these things because you know they work, not because of the results you see on the charts.
When you're launching a new inbound marketing strategy, you must come to grips with the fact that publishing three posts this week doesn't make Google say, "Oh wow! New blog posts! Let's rank them #1!"
Your site has to build up authority, mature, and grow over time. You can augment this with paid traffic, of course, but we're talking about building long-term, compounding growth.
For most clients who are starting from scratch with us, we let them know that our KPIs for the first 6-12 months will focus on deliverables. We know what to build, and the eventual results to expect, but they have to trust us in the dark months when we are doing a lot of work and seeing few results.
For instance, with one of our clients, we had a six-month period with no exciting growth. Yeah, we almost doubled their traffic in 6 months, but it was such a low number, it was uninspiring.
The next seven months told a completely different story:
What did we change from months 1-6, to months 7-13? We doubled down and did more of what wasn't showing results. We planted more seeds and kept grinding - because we know what will work if given the time to mature.
That's the difference between marketing stagnation and marketing success. If you have a strategy that works, you stick with it until it can mature.
If you don't have a marketing strategy that you trust, then stop now. Stop and come up with a strategy you believe in.
If you want to end up in the marketing graveyard, just keep jumping from one marketing strategy to the next, like the client below. They were too "driven" to wait for results ... they needed them "NOW!" So they went with another plan, then another, then another... all in the name of getting results.
Twelve months later, there are no results. Just a lot of half-completed strategies and a lot of "drive."
Patience pays off in marketing.
Should You Pull the Plug Now?
In a nutshell, early-stage marketing needs to be focused on doing what it takes to plant the right seeds and nurturing them to maturity.
When you're in the early stages of inbound marketing, it can be easy to pull the plug and go back to more instant gratification marketing strategies such as spending all of your budget on PPC.
The most important thing to focus on, however, is getting your team to commit to the strategy, goals, and timeline, to avoid prematurely pulling the plug.
Each stakeholder should stick to your game plan until the end.
Too many brands go from strategy to strategy because they don't have total buy-in. As a result, they end up with nothing because they are plowing over their freshly planted tomato garden every week.