Why Marketing Campaigns Fail with CoCommercial Founder Tara Gentile and Media Strategist Brigitte Lyons

Why Marketing Campaigns Fail with CoCommercial Founder Tara Gentile and Media Strategist Brigitte Lyons
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The Nitty Gritty:

  • What four big-picture reasons cause marketing campaigns to fail
  • Why it’s important to have a willingness to explore the reasons for failure
  • What are some of the common tactical points of failure

On this week’s episode on the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast I tackle the question, “Why Marketing Campaigns Fail” with Brigitte Lyons, founder of B, a marketing and PR agency that works primarily with small organizations to hone their marketing message and market positioning. We discuss some of the main challenges business owners in this new economy face every time they go out and market a new product or service. There are so many predictable reasons why marketing campaigns fail and we examine these roadblocks in this discussion so you can avoid them in the future.

Four Big-Picture Reasons that Cause Marketing Campaigns to Fail

The marketing should be baked into the product that you’ve developed and that requires you starting with your audience.

– Tara Gentile

So often, businesses only want to focus on their successes and never want to look at the reasons something fails. In our opinion, this is a missed opportunity. All the answers you need about your marketing tactics should be answered in your marketing strategy. Too often business owners question if they are posting on social media enough (or too much) or if they should amp up their content marketing. This focus on tactical efforts is always a clear signal that a business hasn’t thought through the strategy of a marketing campaign or really put a road map into place.

The most common reasons that Brigitte and I see for marketing campaigns to fail include:

  1. You put your needs ahead of the needs of your audience.
  2. You don’t set crystal-clear expectations around what success is and don’t run the numbers around what that will take.
  3. You save marketing for last (but it should be first).
  4. You don’t use your failures as an amazing learning opportunity.

Be Willing to Explore the Reasons for Failure

Sometimes it requires a little creative thinking to match your needs with theirs.

– Brigitte Lyons

When you start feeling like you need to convince your customers or they are very excited about your message yet have a very big BUT that holds them back from purchasing, these are red flags that you have a problem. It might be a marketing, communication or messaging problem; perhaps you have a position, product or format problem. Whatever it is, you need to reach out to your customers, preferably in person or on the phone to uncover what they don’t like. It is important to get curious to explore what the underlying problem really is.

Common Tactical Points of Failure

Listen to the full podcast to learn the six common tactical points of failure for a marketing campaign that include relying on social media to sell your products or services and your follow-up (or not following up) and to hear all of our takeaways for why marketing campaigns fail and how you can avoid those issues.

Our discussion is a great intro to a class I will be doing on CreativeLive, “Create a Marketing Plan to Grow Your Standout Business.” If you tune in on August 1 and 2 you can watch and learn for free. RSVP today!

You can also find me {most} Mondays (and sometimes Brigitte joins in, too) on my CoCommercial Crowdcast channel where I talk about the ins and outs of growing a small company you love.

Get Help: An Exclusive Excerpt from Quiet Power Strategy

When Brigitte Lyons quit her high-powered PR agency job to pursue an independent career at the intersection of entrepreneurship and media, she started out trying to teach entrepreneurs how to do their own public relations and media outreach. She blogged, developed programs, and networked with movers and shakers. Eventually, we started doing business together on my business coaching program.

In working more and more with the business owners she really wanted to reach, it became clear that they just didn’t have the time to learn how to do things for themselves. They wanted help. They were desperate for it and willing to pay.

Brigitte knew herself enough to realize she didn’t want to be developing pitches and talking on the phone with journalists all day long. She was interested in working closely with entrepreneurs but wanted to focus on strategy, not implementation. Brigitte called me one day and said, “I need a Maggie.”

An intern Brigitte had worked with in her agency days, Maggie was an expert implementer and brilliant publicist. She knew how to work with pitches and editors. She could get placements through a combination of shrewd execution and fabulous connections. A Maggie could help Brigitte do the work she loved while giving her clients what they needed.

A few months later, Maggie emailed Brigitte to catch up. Brigitte responded by immediately making a proposal: get in on the ground level of a brand-new agency and only work with clients she’d love. After some hard negotiations, Maggie was on board. Brigitte now had an agency through which she could deliver the value her clients were after and someone to do the work she really didn’t want to do.

Brigitte got help. She could have tried to do it all herself. But she took the risk to bring someone else on to her team. I’ve worked with entrepreneurs who have always only done it themselves and entrepreneurs in charge of sizable teams who have worked hard to maintain control over every aspect of their idea. Ultimately, the underlying problem is the same: we want responsibility for our own outcomes. On the surface, it might look like an epidemic of wanting all the praise. But dig deeper and the bigger motivator seems to be wanting to have only ourselves to point the finger at for inevitable failure.

People who leverage Quiet Power fight their natural tendency to want only themselves to blame if things go wrong. They beat back the voices that urge them to go it on their own and not get others involved. This aspect of self-leadership is really self-control. It takes self-control to not keep working another hour, to not learn a new skill you have no business learning, to not make a plan that feeds most of the decision-making back to you.

It’s also self-control, not busyness, that keeps you in business. You can work until you’re blue in the face and still not succeed. That’s not to say that hard work doesn’t or won’t pay off. But is what you’re spending your day doing really getting you one step (or better, a few steps) ahead? Are your daily actions tuned to the goal you’ve set in front of you? Your goal can’t be to work yourself to the bone. The sense of accomplishment you’ve been missing won’t come from just checking tasks off a list. What you’re missing is progress, the sense that what you’re doing matters in the larger scheme of things.

Getting help can keep you moving forward. Few dreams are realized from the blood, sweat, and tears of one visionary. Instead, they’re collective efforts. They draw on the expertise and Quiet Power of the people enlisted to get the job done. Brigitte’s dream required Maggie’s Quiet Power to be realized. And together, they’re able to create something even better. Today, they’re aiming to work with non-profit organizations that are interested in progressive, cutting-edge media and outreach strategy. This is something Brigitte would have never created on her own. But by asking for help, not only could she relax and enjoy her work a little more, she was actually able to conceive of something better than her original dream.

What’s more, Brigitte has a whole team of people around her to celebrate when she succeeds, and their collective effort means the agency’s victories are a collective win. And when those inevitable failures occur, as convenient as it would be to know it’s her fault something has gone wrong, it’s even more convenient for Brigitte to have a team to reinvent, pivot, and plow ahead with.

If your dreams always feel just a bit out of reach, it might be because you need help reaching. If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of actually bringing your vision to fruition, it might be because you need to enlist help.

This is an excerpt from my book, Quiet Power Strategy, which comes out February 10.

Frank Conversation with Brigitte Lyons (Normally There’s Wine Involved)

Last week, I sat down with my friend, colleague, and partner Brigitte Lyons. Brigitte is a PR & media strategist for micro businesses who believes in changing the face of the media today. I send every one of my clients to her for easy-to-execute tips at the least and personal service at the most.

Since Brigitte has teamed up with me to help teach the next two rounds of 10ThousandFeet, I wanted to introduce her to you a little more personally. So we sat down and had the kind of conversation (aided by some great questions from readers) we generally have over a couple glasses of wine.

It’s geeky. It’s fun. And, yes, it’s really real. You can watch the video above, or download an audio-only version below. And scroll down to catch highlights from the conversation.

Click here to download the audio-only version. (right-click then “save as”)

This is an absolutely sales-pitch-free conversation. That said, if you’re compelled to check out 10ThousandFeet, I don’t blame you.


How does storytelling contribute to our bottom lines? (2:00)
“The stories we tell create the conditions our businesses are operating in.” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
“Storytelling in business goes well beyond marketing.” — @taragentile http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.

How do you launch a new product with energy & authenticity? (6:04)
“Allow yourself to nerd out about what makes you excited about your product.” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.

Wherein I get vulnerable about telling stories about my clients (7:16)

How do you build a relationship with people when ultimately you have an agenda to sell them something? (10:00)
“Everyone wants you to express an interest in the things that they are passionate about.” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
“Just because you have something to gain in a relationship doesn’t mean you have an agenda.” — @taragentile http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
“Trust yourself as a whole person to bring what is most valuable to every relationship.” — @taragentile http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.

What are your criteria for who you bring on to your team, who will be your mentors, and who you will partner with? (19:05)
“Vibe is so important.” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.

What are the top 3 things you can do to promote a new offering? (23:29)
“Give people the opportunity to say ‘yes’ to you.” — @taragentile http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
“Your inclination is ‘how can I help this person?’ not ‘how can I get out of this?'” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
“Don’t assume that because the sales opportunity is over, that all opportunities are over.” — @taragentile http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.
“Always assume people are interested.” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.

What are our predictions for future online business trends? (32:31)
“Businesses are starting to reorganize themselves to create value instead of just making a splash on the online stage.” — @taragentile Tweet it.
“Online businesses are following the wider trend of being more intentional.” — @brigittelyons http://bit.ly/P7eOsb Tweet it.

Oh, the Things You Can Do With Your Customer’s Point of View

I’m in the middle of a series of posts on leveraging your customer’s perspective (and your business’ unique strengths) to discover how to take your ideas to scale. We’ve talked about to-do lists, evolving your business model, leveraging love, and using small ideas to create the most impact in your market.

But what else can you do with an intimate knowledge of your customer’s perspective?

1. Devise an engaging content strategy.

When you know what’s on your customer’s mind, you can create content–blog posts, email updates, social media posts, videos, classes, etc…–that meet her exactly where she’s at. Instead of hoping that the latest social media trick will tip the scales in your favor, you offer fresh ideas, instant inspiration, or genuine entertainment that lets your customer know just how in tune your business is with her needs.

When you write like everyone else and sound like everyone else and act like everyone else, you’re saying, “Our products are like everyone else’s, too.” Or think of it this way: Would you go to a dinner party and just repeat what the person to the right of you is saying all night long? Would that be interesting to anybody?
— Jason Fried, Why is Business Writing So Awful?

And perhaps more importantly, do you want to give your customers the impression you think they’re just like everyone else? No. You want to make them feel special. One in a million.

For example, Lisa Claudia Briggs, from Intuitive Body, knows her Most Valued Customer tends to bear the weight of the world on their shoulders. They internalize outside stress (at work, in their families, with friends) and turn that into unhealthy habits like overeating. She calls them empaths. Using the Customer Perspective Process, she can use that information to create instant connections and establish trust with potential clients. She recently wrote about the advantages of being an empath, turning a perceived negative into a positive. That’s great (long-lasting) content!

2. Use the media to spread your story.

Your customers are the media’s customers. The same people that buy your products and services also buy newspapers, magazines, and cable. Reaching your customers through the media (as opposed to advertising) means your coming through a trusted source. You earn the title expert or insider from people who get paid to mete out experts and insiders.

My friend and colleague Brigitte Lyons, a media strategist for microbusinesses and creator of the Your Media Map program, uses the Customer Perspective Process to both better understand her own clients and to train them in preparation for dealing with the media.

As I was preparing to launch my publicity planning program, Your Media Map, I brainstormed the work participants needed to do before they went after the media. The first thing that came to mind was Tara’s Customer Perspective Process.

One of the most successful mindset shifts you can make to dramatically increase your hit rate is to keep in mind that you and the media share a common customer. Your right-fit media is just as invested in serving your MVC as your business is. When you keep this commonality in mind, your approach to a journalist (or blogger) changes from being a self-interested pitch to a customer-focused collaboration.

This mindset shift is the key to launching a successful media campaign — and it also helps you calm the jitters you’ll feel when you approach a journalist with a huge audience. You know their reader inside-and-out, because she also happens to be your MVC.

3. Construct a sales process tailor made to duplicate your best customers.

Too many businesses use fancy language to sound like they have a solution. Any kind of jargon–business, self improvement, design, craft, advocacy, etc…–is a barrier between your customers and your work. Your sales process isn’t an opportunity to display your smarts.

It’s an opportunity to match how the value your business creates matches the needs and desires your customer is already expressing (or not expressing) the way they’re expressing them. For example, Jen Louden knows the frustrations, questions, and desires that teachers face when they enter the virtual classroom. She’s crafted the sales process for TeachNow, her signature program for creating confidence & clarity around teaching-as-business, to reflect those frustrations, questions, and desires in her students’ language.

4. Build a business model that exponentially increases your revenue.

When you construct your business model using your customer’s worldview, you can anticipate what products or services he’ll want and when. That means that each satisfying experience with a product turns into a marketing device for the next.

Your business retains highly satisfied customers who continue to invest the products & services they depend on.

According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a loyal customer can be worth 10x as much as a single purchase. If your customers could purchase 10x more from you, you’d be quite happy, right? Crafting a smart business model around your customers’ evolving needs–based on your knowledge of their worldview–means they’ll have that opportunity.

5. Turn your business into a referral engine.

You’re not the only one who needs to talk about your business. You need your customers to be consistently referring clients to your products & services, too.

They’re unlikely to feel comfortable using your description for your business. If the only way you know how to talk about your business is through careful brand language, you’re missing out on a big opportunity for scale. When you give your customers ways to talk about your business from their perspective, it’s easier for them to spread the word for you.

I’ve seen this happen beautifully with my book, The Art of Earning. My customers (that’s you!) are all familiar with the starving artist archetype. By turning that on its head and challenging their perspective, they have a fun way to recommend the book to their friends and colleagues.

Your customer’s perspective is powerful.

Seeing the world through your customers’ eyes is a powerful thing. It’s more than just attracting your right people. It’s the foundation for a business that is truly social, truly sustainable, and truly successful.

Click here to learn about my next Customer Perspective Process boot camp.

What would you do with 15 minutes of fame (or more)? Free Training Call

What would you do with 15 minutes or more of fame?

Many business owners are waiting for their big break, that one press mention or hand up that takes their product to a whole new market. I’ve written before on how this is not a great strategy.

Essentially, for those waiting on 15 minutes of fame to take the steps that will make their businesses work, the answer to the question above is “Nothing.”

Your business and it’s operations have to be prepared for the surge of interest & the rush of potential customers before it happens.

That’s why I’m thrilled to let you know that I cornered my good friend Brigitte Lyons, a masterful media strategist for microbusinesses, and asked her to shed some light on what a business needs to have in place to truly take advantage of publicity when it comes.

It’s FREE. And it’s tomorrow. You’ll get the recording if you register.

Click here to register.