Ryan's experience ranges from higher education to SMBs and tech startups. When not doing digital marketing, he's sure to be enjoying some kind of nerdy pastime.
If you’re a Tony Robbins fan, you know he talks about the three things that guide success: Your Story, Your State, and Your Strategy.
Strategy is usually the top priority. However, it’s not as important as the stories you tell yourself or the state you’re in.
His example is someone wanting to lose weight: they try a program like Weight Watchers. When that doesn’t work for them, they try another program. They spend money on program after program.
Why did they buy another program? Because they think the strategy was the problem.
The truth is, there is no shortage of weight-loss strategies, and they all work. The difference is in the state and the internal story of the one trying to put that strategy to work.
In business, it’s exactly like that! Let me explain…
3 Common Problems With Marketing Growth Strategies
Marketers are just as finicky as consumers. We try something out, and when it doesn’t work, we toss it aside and go about finding a new thing to try.
Now, this may be presumptuous, but I’m guessing the reason you’re reading this article is because you’re in search of a new marketing strategy.
You’re looking for a gimmick that will work simply because it’s a gimmick.
Here’s the uncomfortable truth: when most people say they want a new strategy, what they really mean is, “I want a new tactic to try.”
Tactics are not strategies, just for the record. And that’s where all the problems start.
Problem #1: Not Having a Strategy
Tactics are not strategies.
A marketing strategy is not about publishing schedules.
It’s not about social media posts or podcasts, either.
Those are tactics.
Now, let me be clear, these things used to be strategies because no one was doing them. Saying, “Hey, let’s launch a podcast to reach our audience” was a legitimate strategy when it wasn’t oversaturated.
That is not true today.
Blogging, podcasting, vlogging, video marketing, social media… all of these things are now tactics because everyone is doing them.
What is a strategy today?
The strategy is the way you are going to use those tactics. How are you going to fit them together and use them in ways everyone else is not.
For example, the difference between a blog post that delivers customers and a blog post that delivers only website traffic is in the strategy. It’s the execution of the tactics that becomes strategic.
Are you going to publish videos on YouTube? Okay, how is that going to fit into your growth strategy? How are you going to publish videos that actually impact sales? What are you going to communicate in these videos that will move an actual success metric (not vanity metrics like views)?
When you start asking these questions, you are working on strategy.
The sad thing is, most marketers think they are building a strategy when they determine what channels they will post on. Then, they go off and post, create, and publish… but they don’t have a strategy.
It becomes a “throw it all up against the wall and hope you go viral.”
That’s not a strategy.
It’s a gamble.
Don’t gamble on tactics. Don’t gamble on growth.
You need a strategy. And if you don’t have one, you’re causing your own problems.
Problem #2: Not Identifying the Right Success Metrics
I’m a marketer. I know how exciting it is to see traffic exploding and lead generation numbers increase.
But those are vanity metrics when they are in isolation.
- Are you still judging your emails by open rate?
- Are you still judging your blog posts by views?
- Are you still judging your social media post by likes?
There’s nothing wrong with measuring those things. They can bring all kinds of strategic insights. But they do not truly measure success for 99% of businesses.
What are your key growth metrics? You must identify those first because your strategy must be laser-focused on moving those numbers.
If you’re stuck, here’s a great place to start:
- Qualified Sales Conversations (Opportunities)
- Total Sales Via Your Efforts
That’s good enough.
If you start with open rates, traffic, etc… you’ll be excited about your efforts and results until you finally have to face the music and realize it’s not really working.
Problem #3: Not Including Your Customers In Your Strategy
What do I mean by not including them? I mean doing what too many (way too many) companies do - they project rather than reflect.
What does that mean?
When you project, you force your message onto whatever is in front of you. And your customers reflect your message… meaning they send it right back to you rather than absorbing it.
When your strategy is a reflector rather than projector, your customers are projecting, and your brand is sending that signal back.
When your marketing strategy is all about promoting your selling points, you’re missing the opportunity. A lot of your customers are going to be bombarded with your broadcast, and that message is going to bounce right back.
However, if you allow your customers to set the topic and the message, and you communicate back to them, your message resonates.
Start with them.
Start with their problem, pain, and even their objection.
If you do that, you can finally drop the phony “we’re better because we provide better service.” No, you just don’t know what your customers really want. So, you arbitrarily assign yourself as a customer service hero.
Here’s a side note: nobody chooses a company because of customer service. They aren’t buying customer service. It’s not in their budget.
They are buying a product or service. And the only time they will value your support is when things go wrong. That will help you keep happy customers, but it’s not going to help you attract them at scale.
Listen to your audience.
Talk about what they want to talk about.
Stop projecting what you think should be important to your customers.
Instead, reflect what your customers already think is important.
That doesn’t mean your customers are already right. Marketing is about changing false beliefs and instilling the right ones. But you can’t change someone’s belief by barking at them. You have to dialogue with them, and the dialogue must begin in their mind, not yours.
Overcoming These Common Strategy Problems
Tactics are good.
Strategy makes them great.
The difference between a great strategy and a bad one is the results it delivered to actual success metrics.
What metrics should you focus on in your strategy?
In our growth grader, we break down the 6 levers of growth every business should be moving. If each of these levers are working, growth is a byproduct. These keep your work focused on metrics that actually impact the business, rather than vanity metrics that can be - and often are - false positives.
Download it free now, and get video tutorials on how to use it to refine your strategy and sidestep all the pitfalls other brands often succumb to.
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