Stop Worrying About Plan B; You Still Have 24 Letters to Go!

Have you ever signed up for a Microsoft marketing campaign and been disappointed by the results? Sponsored a tradeshow booth that only attracted the goodie-grabbers?  Signed up for an online pay-per-click program only to watch your campaign budget fizzle away without results? 

Unless you aren’t doing any marketing, the answer is probably YES. You’ve had one or perhaps even ALL of those experiences. As your marketing advisor, I’m here to tell you that’s perfectly normal. Failure is an innate part of the learning process. 

Don’t Give Up

In my opinion, far too many people throw up their hands way too quickly declaring, “Marketing doesn’t work!” They then go on to say that direct mail is a waste of money. Social media is a waste of time. Search engine optimization is too complicated.

In marketing, Plan A is rarely the plan that prevails.  Even Plan B is questionable.  What looks so wonderful and perfectly planned out on paper is spoiled by execution. Or imperfect forecasting. Or falling in love with our own product. Or a sudden shift in the competitive landscape.  Realize you have multiple opportunities (A-Z) to test, measure, and adjust your marketing efforts.

Marketing is not engineering.  One plus one does not always equal two. Sometimes it equals zero, and sometimes it equals 10.  Not to be Captain Obvious here, but the key to success is to do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t work.  If you’re not getting any business/leads from an endeavor, I don’t care if all your competitors are there. Either commit to adjusting your strategy until you start getting leads or stop trying.

Reduce Risk

I cringe every time I hear someone say, “We spent $20,000 and didn’t get a single good lead.” GULP! That’s real money coming out of a business owner’s pocket. My strategy has always been to test on a small scale first.  Do pay-per-click advertising to test different messages and different offers.  Put different calls-to-action on your website. Send a small sample direct mailing before you reach out to the masses. 

Some marketing campaigns can’t be done for less than a substantial investment. For example, a booth at Convergence is going to be relatively expensive. While it’s hard to cut exhibitor costs, you can set yourself up for success by perfecting all the variables – your pitch, your marketing materials, your offers, and your follow-up sequences before you go to the show. 

Inbound marketing has become popular in recent years.  Instead of pushing messages out, your marketing efforts are focused around pulling people in.  I’m a huge fan of inbound marketing because (1) the leads tend to be more qualified, and (2) you can see the metrics of what’s working and what’s not working. You can see how many people went to the landing page. You can see how many people grabbed your offer.  You can compare and contrast.  I use tools like LeadPages ( to A/B split test variations of a client’s campaign. Wait to throw big money into the campaign until you have perfected the entire funnel.  Our sales process is often a long one, but you know your marketing is working when visitors keep coming back for more!

When It’s Not Working Out

Some campaigns are going to fail. Oh well.  You’ve learned one way that doesn’t work to market your business or your product.  Don’t make it any bigger than that.  Often with clients, we’ll run a post-mortem to analyze what went wrong. What could have made a difference that we couldn’t easily adjust? Sometimes it’s a timing issue. Sometimes it’s that we didn’t have compelling enough offers and we need time to develop new materials. It’s not the end of the world.

Fail forward – but don’t stop trying! 

Adrianne Machina is the chief velocity officer at Tornado Marketing, a firm that helps companies fill their sales funnel with powerful marketing systems and persuasive messaging. She can be reached at or 608-213-0377.


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