P4M2 Why Marketing Is Difficult

It may seem strange to have a module called “Why Marketing is Difficult” in a training program about doubling your profit in twelve months.

The way I see it is that there is no point sugar-coating things.

Marketing is difficult for many businesses if you do the wrong things or if you do the right things badly.

Some businesses have it lucky.

Little or no competition which means that their marketing doesn’t have to be great… but they usually face limited opportunities. If a market is so small it hasn’t attracted other competitors, the prize available is often low although the Revenue Regeneration techniques in Pillar 6 can make a big difference to profit.

We’ll start by looking at common marketing frustrations.

Common Marketing Frustrations

  • Marketing takes so time
  • Difficult to reach right people and get attention
  • It is expensive and risky – few guarantees
  • Prospects are not interested and won’t respond
  • Prospects say they are interested but won’t take action and commit to buy
  • Many different marketing ideas & methods
  • Competitors can spend so much more

When I talk to small business owners who are frustrated with marketing, I hear a variety of common themes and you may be able to relate to some or all of these.

Frustration 1 – Marketing takes so much time

I hear this from frustrated technicians – accountants, osteopaths, photographers – people who want to be doing the thing that earns the money.

Marketing is seen as the means to the end. The necessary evil that has to be done.

Everything they try gives a poor return on time.

Networking – plenty of meetings but no leads.

Sales letters – so much time to write and send out the letters and again for little or no return.

I could go on.

The basic problem is that marketing takes so much time because it doesn’t work and they’re not taking advantage of search marketing techniques like the Internet which put your business in front of customers who are looking to buy.

Frustration 2 – It’s difficult to reach the right people and get their attention


Just as people who see you as their ideal prospective customer find it difficult to get your attention.

Wishy-washy vague messages don’t cut it.

You don’t have time to try to decipher and understand what the other person has to offer.

Nor do your customers so you’ve got to be using highly targeted, relevant messages that say “this is about me and my business/life”.

Frustration 3 – Marketing is expensive and risky

Many small business owners have been burnt by a marketing campaign.

What sounded so great – this technique is almost certain to create a flood of leads from eager soon to be customers – turns out to be an expensive waste of time and of course, the fine print says that success isn’t guaranteed

Advertising, websites, telemarketing, video marketing…

It seems that almost any type of marketing that you’re sold can fall into this category unless you can get a pay-by-results deal. Often you can’t and the media salesperson will think you’re crazy to ask.

You see advertising doesn’t work.

Websites don’t work.

Telemarketing doesn’t work.

Video marketing doesn’t work.

Unless you get the right message out to the right people.

Frustration 4 – Prospective customers are not interested and won’t respond

This is back to the message problem assuming you’re contacting the right kind of potential customers.

How often do you respond to a marketing message?

And what jolts you out of your passive state into taking action?

Often your message might be of interest but your call to action isn’t strong enough.

Frustration 5 – Prospects say they are interested but won’t buy

This in many ways is a lead conversion issue since you’ve established interest.

Your prospect has a problem but solving it hasn’t become urgent.

It’s not a top priority.

A “nice to do” and not a “must do”.

If you’re selling then you may not have helped your prospect to see the pain and problems that not taking action is causing and you haven’t sweetened the deal so much that it would only be turned down by a fool.

Frustration 6 – There are too many marketing ideas and methods

Yes there are plenty of ways for you to try to gain the attention of your prospective customers.

Some of them won’t be appropriate.

They won’t suit your customers (the big reason not to use) and they won’t suit you (the little reason).

It’s much better to have one marketing method that works than six that don’t work.

It’s also much better to have two that work than one. And three is better than two.

I’ll be encouraging you to focus on one method first for search marketing and outreach marketing. Get that working like a well-oiled machine and move on.

Frustration 7 – Competitors can spend much more

Marketing is one area that gives huge opportunities for competitive advantage based on economies of scale.

If you think about marketing budgets as a percentage of sales, then a 3% spend from a $100 million business is $3 million.

Or just $3,000 from a $100,000 business.

Fortunately a lot of companies waste a lot of their advertising and indeed marketing budgets.

You just have to look at the stuff that you see to know that it won’t sell in a month of Sundays.

Why Doesn’t Marketing Work

  • Prospects are busy with their own lives
  • Badly targeted
  • Fails to attract attention in seconds
  • Wrong message or poorly communicated
  • Sent at wrong time – give up too soon
  • No different than competitors or the offer is poor
  • Lacks credibility
  • Poor follow up
  • No system, no schedule, no plans

A quick run through of why so much marketing doesn’t sell.

First, the customer is too busy (or too lazy).

When you’re rushing around here, there and everywhere doing the stuff you know you’ve got to get done, you don’t want to be bothered by marketing and especially bad marketing that boring or irrelevant.

Something bang on message that looks as if it can solve a pressing problem is different. It can jar you out of your routine and attract and keep your attention provided it looks as if it makes sense.

But sometimes you know something makes sense. It’s something you should do, something you need to do, maybe even something you want to do but you still need to be reminded.

You saw the original message and thought “I take a good look at that later.”

Trouble is, later never comes.

Grumpy Old Man In Chair

A famous McGraw Hill advertisement (they publish books) featured a grumpy old man in a chair giving an eager marketer a piece of his mind.

  • I don’t know who you are
  • I don’t know your company
  • I don’t know your company’s product
  • I don’t know what your company stands for
  • I don’t know your company’s customers
  • I don’t know your company’s record
  • I don’t know your company’s reputation
  • Now what was it you want to sell me?

Here’s a spoof video which takes the grumpy old man advertisement and updates it to the world of social media (the video was used to promote a marketing conference in 2009 – the more things change, the more they stay the same.)

Even Grumpier Old Man

Some ways the McGraw Hill advertisement was kind.

The old in the chair may be grumpy but at least he is listening.

It can be worse.

  • I don’t have the time to think about what you are selling
  • I don’t think I want what you are selling
  • I know I don’t want what you are selling
  • I am insulted that you think I could want what you are selling

Can you see why marketing is so tough?

And why if you don’t approach it the right way, you can fail?

The Four Extra Reasons Why Customers Don’t Buy

If we move past the “I don’t want what you are selling” reason, here are a few more reasons why possible customers don’t buy.

  • Your offer never caught their attention. It didn’t look like a relevant solution to one of their problems.
  • The potential customer didn’t believe your claims or trust you to deliver on your promises.
  • The potential customer doesn’t believe they will get value for money – the benefits aren’t worth the price.
  • The potential customer doesn’t have the money to pay for it.

These are more specific and shows we need to work on our message, our offer and potentially our targeting.

4 Ms of Marketing

  • Marketing Mindset
  • Market – Pillar 3
  • Marketing Message – Pillar 3
  • Marketing Media – how the message is communicated

I like to talk about the 4 Ms of Marketing.

It begins by having the right mindset.

Don’t fight against the need for marketing, embrace it.

The more you tell, the more you sell.

And the more you sell, the more you help people.

Marketing is your gateway to helping more people.

The better your marketing, the more easier it is to help people and the more people you can help.

We’ll go in deeper on how to create a positive marketing mindset in a few minutes with some of the best ideas from Jay Conrad Levinson and Guerrilla Marketing. The marketing techniques are good but what I find really helps my clients are these mindset issues which get them thinking about marketing in a very different way.

The second M is your target market.

We talked about this in Pillar 3 on Your Strategic Market Position.

The more fuzzy and unclear you are on who your customers are, the more difficult it is for you to target and connect.

Go back to the exercises on your customer avatar so you have personalities to connect with and clear problems to solve.

It will make a huge difference when you focus on the third M of marketing, your message.

Again this was covered in Pillar 3 in terms of your key customer value elements, your USP or Irresistible Offer, your elevator speech and your simple sales message. In Pillar 4 on outreach marketing, we’ll go into more detail about how you can build up your marketing message.

Finally the last M for marketing is media.

Marketing media is the way your marketing message reaches your target market.

It’s what most people think is marketing – your website, your advertising, direct mail, telemarketing – but hopefully you now see it as just one quarter.

The right message delivered through the wrong media is likely to work better than the wrong message through the right media.

I hate to receive telemarketing calls. The telephone is for clients and not for people who are trying to sell me stuff. A telemarketer has little more than a nanosecond too hook me but it’s possible.

I like direct mail. It’s convenient. I open it on my time and I have a technical interest in what I get but I’ve never bought anything without the message being at least half right.

I thought I’d invented the 4 Ms of Marketing but Dan Kennedy has been talking for twenty years about the need to line up the right market with the right message and the right media.

Watch: Magnetic Marketing with Dan Kennedy (98 minute video)

Guerrilla Marketing Mindset

In Pillar 2 we saw the importance of your mindset in determining your success.

It’s the same with marketing.

Any negative beliefs about marketing will come through in what you do, how you do it, when you do it and how often. Because marketing is tough and difficult when not done well, the amount of negative self talk you’ve heard in the past is high… and all the time it drains your confidence and belief in what you’re doing.

Unless we can stop that inner voice, your marketing becomes a vicious circle of failed marketing campaigns and cynicism towards marketing.

You can change your mindset by re-programming your brain to have a healthier set of beliefs.

You’re in business to help your customers to solve a problem or to gain some exciting benefit.

You can only do that if your customers know about you and understand how you can help them. And for them to take action, prospective customers need to know they can trust you to deliver on your promises so that they receive the benefits they are paying for… and believe you can deliver better value for money than your competitors.

You owe it to your customers and anyone else you can help to do what you need to do to give them the choice to make an informed decision. This is the basis of the Strategy of Preeminence we talked about in Pillar 1 and had a major effect on how I saw marketing.

Marketing is not just about you and how you can get money from your customers… it’s the key to helping people. It is the act which opens up the possibilities of creating value for both of you.

The second set of ideas which took away any bad feelings about marketing for me was when I learnt the Guerrilla Marketing Competencies in my training to be a Guerrilla Marketing Coach.

Each week we were asked to rate our performance on a list  from 1 (low) to 10 (high) and take action to improve one or two with the lowest scores. This reading through and rating worked in the same way as affirmations.

It implanted a positive thought in my brain and if you do the exercise each week, it will do the same for you.

The list below is based on the Guerrilla Marketing Competences and I have strengthened the affirmation impact of the statements.

  • I am intentional – I see every contact with my customers and prospects as marketing and a way to move towards my goals
  • I see things from the customer’s point of view. I focus on what they want and my aim is to help them get it.
  • I am proactive in my marketing. It is my responsibility to help people in need of my products and services by making them aware of what I can do.
  • I use an assortment of marketing techniques to reach my customers so I can find the one that resonates with them best.
  • I follow up quickly & appropriately so my customers and prospects always know where they stand.
  • I use a marketing calendar to plan & measure my activities so I can focus on what works.
  • I am enthusiastic in my marketing because I believe in my products and services.
  • I have a clear & focused market niche so I’m clear about who I can help.
  • I have a specific marketing plan to guide my actions and make my marketing successful.
  • I make effective use of online marketing because it’s easy and convenient for my customers and low cost for me.
  • I build strong one-to-one relationships based on helping my customers to know, like & trust me.
  • I am a giver in my marketing. I want every contact to add value for my customers and prospects.
  • I amaze my customers with exceptional service.
  • I use imagination to capture the attention of my customers and prospects.
  • I work closely with fusion marketing partners to reach more people in a trusted way.
  • I take consistent action to move my marketing and business forward.

Download the exercise in a Word document to complete each week.


I realise you may be sceptical about these ideas to re-program the brain.

It does seem a bit woo-woo I admit.

But trust me, it works. I’ve seen it time after time.

If you’ve found yourself an accountability partner, then make it a habit to go through each other’s marketing competences to a) make sure that the exercise is done each week and b) to help the person to focus on one or two of the low scores.

If you have a problem with one of the affirmations, then rather than skip the entire exercise, I’d like you to drop that one affirmation.

But I’d also like you to try to explain to yourself why you have a problem with it and find an alternative affirmation which moves you along more gently.

The marketing plan and marketing calendar are covered in the next module Your Marketing Plans

Guerrilla Marketing Secrets

It’s time to delve deeper into Guerrilla Marketing.

Jay Conrad Levinson was the first marketing expert to focus on the marketing needs of small businesses when he wrote the first Guerrilla Marketing book in 1983.

Before then marketing was about big budgets and huge advertising campaigns and that had been Jay’s Background.

He used to be a Senior VP of advertising giants J Walter Thompson and worked on campaigns including The Marlboro Man, The Pillsbury Doughboy, Allstate’s good hands, United’s friendly skies, the Sears Diehard battery, Morris the Cat, Tony the Tiger, and the Jolly Green Giant.

He then gave up the corporate life and one of his roles was teaching at the University of California at Berkeley and his students asked for help for marketing small businesses.

Guerrilla Marketing was created with its emphasis on replacing money with time, energy, imagination and knowledge.

At its core are the Guerrilla Marketing Secrets and you’ll see where many of the competencies come from.

1 – Commitment

Echoing the point made at the start of this module, marketing is difficult.

It takes time to move someone to action and especially if they don’t have an urgent problem to solve.

Jay Conrad Levinson estimates that only one in three marketing messages are seen (I think that’s generous) and that it takes nine contacts to move from a disinterested (but targeted) prospect into an eager buyer. That’s twenty seven messages in total.

OK we will try to short-cut it by having a strong offer wrapped in a convincing message but a lot of marketing is done on this drip,drip effect of building up brand awareness, name recognition and product positioning so that one name tops the list when you need to buy.

You therefore need commitment in your marketing. It’s no good thinking that one contact is enough – that the customer knows his or her mind and any more is a waste. Each message which gets through the clutter opens up the mind that little bit more and increases awareness of the problem and solution.

One of the campaigns Jay Conrad Levinson is most famous for is Malboro Man and Malboro Country.

Many years ago Malboro was ranked 14th in the cigarette brands and it was seen as a feminine brand. Philip Morris, the owners of Malboro wanted to change this and Jay and his team created the cowboy and “big country” imagery.

Philip Morris loved the idea and spent a fortune promoting it.

One year later, Malboro was still ranked as the 14th brand and it was still seen as feminine but the CEO was committed.

The campaign ran for many years and Malboro became the biggest brand of cigarettes in the world.

That’s what commitment in your marketing can do… provided you hit on a winning idea.

2 – Investment

You need to see marketing as an investment and expect a return.

The more measurable you can make your marketing, the easier it is to have the commitment.

3 – Consistent

One of the big aims of your marketing is to build trust so you need to be consistent.

I’ve seen one marketer – who should know better – claim to be a top expert in telemarketing in one message, and then in pay per click and then in copywriting and then…

Other marketers also switch hats to best fit their message but to anyone watching, this inconsistency creates distrust and the impression that they’ll say whatever they’ll need to (regardless of the truth) to make the sale.

You need to be consistent in your marketing about who you are but also in the way and style you communicate. The more you are consistent, the more you and your business brand builds its own personality for customers to connect with.


The number one reason why people buy is not price, quality or service.

It’s because the customer has confidence in the business.

Confidence that it will deliver on its marketing promises.


Marketing takes time so a business needs to be patient.

Commitment + Consistency + Patience = Confidence = Return On Investment

It worked for Malboro and it can work for you.

It’s much more effective to target a smaller number of customers and contact them regularly than to have a wide scatter-gun approach which fires off marketing in all directions but rarely hits the same potential customer twice.


You should use a combination of marketing tactics and techniques.

Some suit some customers better than others.

Some are better at that time – an email when you’re busy is better than the telephone call as it gives you flexibility about when you deal with it.


You’re there to help your customers at their convenience.

Few except doctors and dentists can treat their customers with little respect and make customers fit their working patterns.

Respect your customers’ time and be easy to do business with.

If you’re not, then customers will find someone who is.


It is expensive to attract customers.

Repeat business is usually where the big profits are made so look beyond the first transaction for subsequent business.


If your industry provides good customer service, then you can only stand out by being amazing.

If your competitors are little more than adequate, then you can create great loyalty by being great.


The best marketing is marketing you can measure.

If you know what works, then not only can you do it again (and again) but you can also test ways to make it even better.


Look to establish two way relationships – good for you and good for your customers.

If you get the balance wrong – for example if you charge too low a price, you may start resenting your customers or they may feel guilty for taking advantage of our better nature.

Just like friends, the best relationships have give and take.


Don’t be too independent and try to do everything yourself.

Look for ways that you can cooperate with other businesses to meet both sets of goals.

I’m delighted with the success of the mastermind groups I run which bring business owners together in a process to help each other.


Look to use technology whenever you can and it’s good for customers.

Automate to save time and money.

Someone has to pay for wasteful and inefficient processes and it’s either you or your customers.

That said, I hate the automated telephone answering services which waste so much time to get you to someone who doesn’t know what you want.


Marketing is good.

Spam is bad.

Focus most of your time and attention on those who give permission.


Look for ways to combine online & offline marketing.

They can each reinforce the other rather than forcing each to carry the full weight of your marketing persuasion.


Sell a product or service you’re proud of.

Substance over style.

The steak and the sizzle.


Take action – this is a recurring theme throughout Your Profit Club.

Money follows action.

If you’re not sure, test small and see what happens.

If you are sure, still test small. There are plenty of marketing experts who have had big flops because they’ve assumed they know what the market wants. The only votes that matter are the customers and the best put money in your bank account.


Your marketing may have many elements but it all needs to work together.

This is a point made in the marketing mix – price, promotion, product and place (plus for service businesses, people, processes and physical evidence).

If you’re selling a premium product, it needs to look and feel like a premium product throughout the customer experience from first contact through to buying and then to ownership.

See Marketing For What It Is

Marketing is everything you do in your business

  • To attract new leads
  • To convert leads into customers
  • To sell again to existing customers
  • To encourage customers to refer your business to others

It is your way to help others help themselves.

If you have a great product and bad marketing, you hurt your business and the people who should be buying.

Remember strategy of preeminence (Pillar 1), you have a duty to protect customers and associates.

What To Do

  • Each week rate your Marketing Mindset competences – reading the affirmations and assessing yourself triggers the subconscious and will improve your views on marketing.
  • Pick one  or two low scoring competencies each week to work on and spend 15 minutes thinking about what you can do
  • Then do it.

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