approx 12 minute read

It started with an email

It started with an email from a travel operator.

The type of travel agent which books your travel for you. That takes care of everything.

The email had a great subject line and began with a captivating story about a little piece of history.

It was intriguing because it was different. And very well written.

The text was a little lengthy, but engaging. Remember, you can’t be too long with long copy.

Only too boring.

At the end of the email, there was a compelling offer and a clear call to action.

As a marketing piece, it was excellent.

It was also a massive fail.*

Why? Because a) It was sent to the wrong person within the company.
They never book travel. And had no plans to travel personally in the near future.

And also because b) When they replied to say ‘thanks but no thanks’, they got an ‘out-of-office’ reply.

Put simply, marketing is about the right MPT.
The right message, to the right people, at the right time.

This example was a great message. However, wrong person. Wrong time.

“Surely the auto-response is no big deal? People are allowed time off, right?”

Of course. But maybe schedule your campaign to go out when you’re not having the day off.

Or have the replies go to someone ready to respond to hot prospects.

gone fishing signage

No secret sauce

Ever wonder why some businesses with a track record of success don’t hit it out of the park on their next venture?

Surely they’ve done it before, they’ll do it again?

Most of the time, yes. Not always.

Here are 5 examples of ideas that missed the mark. From companies who know what they’re doing when it comes to marketing their brand.

Purple Bricks

Purple Bricks was a massive success in the UK initially. The market leader by a clear margin.

But failed expansion into Australia and US has left the company looking to build a recovery, following a 95% fall in share price since 2018.

In the US, Purple bricks spent approximately $5 in advertising for every $1 it earned.


Tesco know what they’re doing when it comes to marketing, right?

They are the largest supermarket chain in the UK, with a 26.9% market share.

But in 2020, Tesco sold its stores in Poland to focus on the UK.

The £165m sale of 301 sites follows the company’s departure from Japan, South Korea, the US and Turkey.

The Amazon Fire Phone

The Amazon Fire Phone launched in June 2014.

The face-tracking smartphone sold only 35,000 units, forcing the company to write off $170 million of unsold phones.

Arch Deluxe Burger

McDonald’s introduced the Arch Deluxe burger in 1996 in a bid to create a posher burger for a more sophisticated audience.

It was touted as the burger with the grown-up taste.

The company spent an estimated $200 million in marketing a burger nobody wanted to eat.

Harley Davidson Perfume

Imagine 4.5 million Google results relating to tattoos of your logo.

It’s a sure bet you have an iconic brand that transcends product sales.

harley tattoos google search results

But that brand loyalty behemoth didn’t help Harley Davidson sell colognes and perfumes.

Even with its woody-tobacco scented allure, the juxtaposition is tangible.

But it’s not that motorbike riders shouldn’t smell nice. Or thats Harley Davidson shouldn’t have a wider scope of non-motorcycle products (they sell high heels).

However, the marketing failed, appearing to completely alienate both male and female riders. Or maybe it just smelt bad.

Longterm, even the coolest marketing will not cover the cracks in a poor product.

Why the epic fail tho?

So why did these ventures fail? It’s often never as simple as one thing to blame.

Just like any success is built on multiple factors working together in harmony.

And so the opposite can be true. A perfect storm of circumstances can wash away results.

But what this proves is that we can’t always be 100% certain what marketing will work.

Sure, it’s easy to say after the fact. But beforehand, while the ink’s still wet. It’s always an educated guess.

strategic thinking

It works half the time

You’ll have heard the famous quote ‘Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.’ John Wanamaker.

He said that in the 19th Century.

Would you say things have changed a little since then?

And yet, over 100 years later, the fact still remains.

Sure, digital marketing has helped. You can feast on all manner of data. Open rates. Click-through rates. Conversion Rates.

You can see what websites are sending you traffic. What keywords and enquiries are generating visibility.

But in terms of which headline is better? Which subject line? What social image?

If you really want to know what works best, the only way is to test it. In advance, no one can know for sure.

What made them buy?

Visibility on marketing attribution remains a challenge for most businesses.

Attribution is the bit where we can allocate the credit for each conversion to the correct marketing activity responsible for the sale.

Or more accurately, a combination of multiple activities.

Marketing attribution is often called multi-touch attribution, and for good reason.

Because it’s well known it often takes multiple touchpoints before a sale.

marketing touchpoints

How many? Your call. Some say at least three. Or five. Some say eight.

How many fingers am I holding up?

The truth is it varies, but it will often be several.

And the more (positive) connections your brand makes, the stronger the trust.

brand recognition and trust

The power of repetition

Let’s recap.

  • Successful marketing is the right message, to the right people, at the right time
  • We can never be 100% sure of future success
  • Multiple touchpoints lead to more conversions

And so we must rely on the power of repetition.

Studies have shown it’s better to send five things to 1,000 people than one thing to 5,000.

Repetition is important.

Repetition is important. (Sorry). But so is placement.

You want to consistently put your messaging in all the places the right people are likely to see it.

The plan is to do this repeatedly, consistently, over a sustained period of time.

Then the chances you’ll catch people at ‘the right time’ significantly increase.


You are what you repeat

They say you are what you eat. But in business, you are what you repeat.

In fact, it was our old buddy Aristotle who said “We are what we repeatedly do.” He was a smart fella.

In every aspect of life, habits guide our results.

What’s more, habits have the compound interest of improvement.

Activity today can not only deliver results today but is also an investment in the future.

Each interaction helps build trust and strong connections over time.

seo is like the gym, persistent marketing grind

Focus on systems

James Clear, author of ‘Atomic Habits’, suggests you forget about goals and focus on systems instead.

He makes this recommendation because you can’t always control the results. But you have full control over your actions.

Work on the actions that increase the chances of results. Work on relentless activity.

In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, new students often become frustrated by their desire for a belt promotion – a symbol of a higher level of achievement in the sport.

And yet sage advice is to focus on your training, not the belt. The belt will take care of itself.

That’s not to say take your eye off the results in marketing. Or your goals. But focusing on the activity is just as key. Because it’s what drives the results.

This is especially true with SEO. Which is a bit like going to the gym.

Go regularly, get results over time. Stop going?… Notice the consequences.

So what kind of marketing activity can you make a habit of?

Clearly, there are lots of different ways to promote your business.

Choosing which to prioritise with resources is a task in itself.

But specifically, what regular marketing activity can you do daily/weekly/monthly, to give you the best chance of results?

Here are 10 tried and tested ways to promote your business that you should be doing all the time.

#1 Google Business Profile

Complete and accurate Google My Business listings get 7x more clicks than those missing information and are 70% more likely to attract location visits.

Is your profile accurate and up to date? Are you regularly adding new updates and images?

What are you doing to encourage reviews and stay on top of reputation management?

90% of people read reviews before purchasing.

To appear organic, you should have a process in which to grow your reviews consistently over time, in a natural manner.

You should also regularly reply to reviews. Not just for Google, of course. But to show your customers you care.

Especially if the review was a negative one.

#2 SEO

Across the board, more total website traffic comes from organic search than any other source.

94% of B2B buyers research online before making buying decisions.

Increase your chances of being found by consistently working on your relevance and authority.

  • Regularly reach out to relevant industry buddies for citations.
  • Monitor your keyword performance.
  • Work on creating user-focused content.
  • Fix technical SEO issues on your website.

#3 Google Ads

63% of people have clicked on a Google ad.

In fact, that’s how many people believe they have. The actual figure will be higher, as some won’t have even realised.

Google makes $100M per day from Google Ads. The biggest chunk of that will be from clicks.

So this is a great example of meeting two of our marketing mantra points: Right person, right time.

Google does a great job of matching your business with users’ needs at the exact time.

If you’re looking for instant website traction, Ads might be the way to go.

If so, you’ll want to be monitoring results daily.

And tweaking campaigns so they are specific to what products and services you’re offering right now.

When you’re spending on Ads, you can’t afford for messages to get dusty. As Google partners, we can help if needed.

#4 Email Marketing

81% of SMBs still rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel.

A little bizarre, as we’d suggest it was more of a customer retention channel. A way to keep in touch with customers and develop brand loyalty.

In fact, 49% of people said they’d like to receive promotional emails from their favourite brands. Awww.

Do you have a way to grow your database? This is something you can be working on continuously.

Alongside a strategy for regular email marketing that hits just the right balance.

#5 Social Media

For many businesses, having a social media presence can be one of those things you feel you have to do.

So maybe it doesn’t get the resource or thinking time it needs.

If you’re too pushy, too friendly, too salesy or, heaven forbid, too boring, it ends up being ineffective and your audience gets turned off.

So on a regular basis, you’ll want to devote some time to developing your presence here.

You should post regularly of course, in line with your social media strategy.

But don’t sleep on the engagement.

Responding to comments and questions is just as important.

Plus don’t forget to contribute to your community by liking and commenting on other relevant posts.

#6 Networking

It ain’t what you know, it’s who you know.

That’s often the case for many business relationships. But for SMBs especially, networking is the lifeblood of your sales funnel.

Whether you get the chance to go daily, weekly, or monthly, you should always be on the lookout for high quality network opportunities.

Notice we said ‘high-quality’? Not all networking events are created equal. Avoid time-wasting scenarios.

Check sites like eventbrite for local opportunities. But don’t forget Linkedin!

It’s an online networking tool in essence. And just like in real life, you have to try and avoid the over-zealous sales creep.

Or perhaps, more importantly, avoid becoming that over-zealous sales creep!

linkedin meme
linkedin meme

But for each of these, there are hundreds of like-minded folk looking for the chance to build relationships and exchange ideas.

Eeeshhh, that sounded a little too online dating for comfort. Back-track.

94% of B2B marketers use Linkedin to distribute content. There, that’s better.

#7 Exhibitions and Events

79% of marketers generate sales using event marketing.

Exhibitions, trade shows, and expos are a great way to meet the right people, launch new products and try out new things.

They’re an investment. But, take the time to plan your show, and you could reap big rewards.

Again, a little like Networking, the right events may not come along every week. However, each week you can be on the lookout for upcoming shows and events. And connecting with people who are attending. Or following up on leads you’ve harvested from previous shows.

A good tip is to look out for shows where your customers will be.

OK, that sounds blatantly obvious, but let’s put it this way…

If you’re a florist, don’t only go to the wedding shows. Hospitality events might be worth attending too.

A waterside cafe may want to support a beach clean-up event.

If you sell nutritional supplements, a cross-fit expo might be on the cards.

Sounds like the above-mentioned Harley Davidson could do worse than seeking a stand at a tattoo convention!

#8 Direct mail

87% of people said they were influenced to make an online purchase as a result of receiving direct mail.

That’s why big brands don’t just focus everything online. They combine their online presence with offline marketing.

Print and direct mail is proven to build trust. It’s perceived to be more credible.

It plays with emotions. And it appeals to multiple senses – touch and sight.

There’s nothing like it. And you can exploit that power, very cost-effectively.

Perhaps not cost-effectively enough to be a daily routine…

However, the recommendation is to send something in the post each month, to stay top of mind.

It doesn’t have to be a leaflet every time.

You can experiment with welcome packs, newsletters, postcards, greetings cards, vouchers, and scratch cards.

We have a cornucopia of ideas in our Printing Playbook.

If your business can afford to be a little more targeted, you could send out a few personalised pieces a week.

In SMB circles, a tactic that worked well was combining print with networking.

You’d send cards out each week to businesses you’d like to meet, inviting them to the networking event you are attending.

#9 Call your existing clients

Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer.

So clearly it’s important to look after your existing clients.

Calling your customers shows you care. You can gauge sentiment and satisfaction, and learn about developing needs.

It’s not logistically feasible for all businesses to do this of course.

And so if you run a business where it is possible to call your clients then be sure to take advantage of it.

You should have a list of people to get in touch with each week.

If calling your customers is a bit of a stretch then it’s even more important to check in using email or print.

Or a conversation on Linkedin, if you have the chance.

It’s all about nurturing your relationship.

Each of the ideas above has a different application of touch and time so you can use a combination of the most appropriate.

Get these healthy business habits ingrained into your everyday routine.

It’s a steady foundation for sustainable business growth.

#10 Get help

You have a lot on your plate and this is a lot to think about. You may already have a big enough daily to do list.

If you can, we recommend allocating some quiet time every day to working on your marketing. Working ON your business, rather than IN it.

But the reality is sometimes you need to call for backup.

Let us help. We can plan a campaign for you that has several contact steps. These could be a brochure to warm them up, followed by an eshot with an invitation to meet. They might want to research the idea. So how about SEO and Ads to help you gain visibility on Google?

Next week could be a promo postcard with a focus on an individual product or service. Then a call. That’s five. Then how about a voucher booklet of special deals, backed up by some social media posts?

It’s not about badgering. It’s about engaging. Let’s talk, it’s free to get started.

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