In aviation, it’s called the “stall.” It happens when the wings of a plane aren’t generating the requisite lift to keep the plane soaring higher — let alone the same altitude.
In marketing, it’s called hitting a wall. It happens when you’ve lost your capacity to grow and reach new customers.
And while the reasons you’ve stalled out might be different than in an airplane, the solution is the same: you’ve got to find a way to generate some lift.
Problem: You’re Being Outpaced by the Competition
Maybe you did nothing wrong at all. You marketed well, your product/service was well received, and people were happy to do business with you.
Then, one day, you wake up and realize that the competition has left you in its dust. It can be a rude awakening when you realize that the winds have shifted around you. But it doesn’t have to spell disaster, either.
If lack of innovation is the problem, then the solution should be easy: innovate once again.
In 2012, Procter and Gamble found itself in a similar situation. Critics said their innovation was lacking. For a corporate giant, an idea like “give up” isn’t possible. Instead, P&G sank $2 billion into research and development to get ahead of the curve once again.
The company’s stock has been doing well ever since:
The lesson is simple: stay wise to market conditions and invest time in moving ahead of the curve. If you invest even ten minutes a day checking up on the competition, reading about what’s going on in the industry, or even just brainstorming new ideas, it will represent a long-term investment in the success of your marketing — and your company.
Problem: Your Budget is the Same, But the Returns Have Changed
It might have felt like a revelation when you finally got Google Adwords rolling. You targeted the right keywords, found the right bidding prices, and opened yourself up to an entirely new audience.
Then, over time, you noticed that your click-through rate dipped — and you have no idea why.
You don’t have to be in search engine marketing to see the same problem happening with radio ads, banner ads, or social media buys. The good news is: if you’re already measuring your success rate, that’s half the battle.
There are a few ways to make a comeback in the second half:
Start A/B Testing if you haven’t already. Doesn’t sound familiar? VWO.com has a comprehensive guide.
Update your ads for a newer market. Old headlines? Outdated copy? Maybe it’s time to launch an entirely new campaign for 2017.
Try a new avenue. If all else fails, continue searching for your customer by trying an entirely new advertising channel. If you’ve only done search engines, try social media. If you’ve only done online, go offline. You might be surprised with the results.
None of these tips will guarantee success. But they will break you out of the sluggish marketing rut your business is stuck in. At the very least, trying something new will bring new energy and attention to a priority that’s found its way to the backburner.
Problem: Your Marketing is Outpacing Your Capacity for Growth
Call this the “quality problem” of the list. Your business is doing well — so well, in fact, that the problem is you have too many customers. Your marketing has outpaced your productive capacity, which means your marketing, too, has hit a wall.
Learning how to manage growth is a topic so large that entire books have been written about it. But let’s focus on one item here: scalability.
Is your business scalable? In other words, can you produce more of the same “stuff” at the same quality if you simply increase your productive capacity? Or are there diminishing returns when you expand?
If you make cupcakes, then maybe you just need a bigger oven. That’s a scalable business. If you’re a one-person consultation crew and would have to train a new consultant over a period of six months, maybe not.
Either way, you need to learn how to crack through this wall:
Raise your prices. If you’re so in-demand that you simply have too much on your plate, then you’re probably charging too little for your services. Raising your prices gives you extra income you can then use to invest in your business.
Expand slowly. Some companies grow too quickly and end up biting off more than they can chew. Don’t be that company. Expand at the right speed for you — even if it requires a second helping of patience.
Hire help. The fastest way to increase your productive capacity is to add another person to the team. If you don’t have enough money on hand to justify the hire, maybe you’re not growing as fast as you thought.
Problem: You’re Not Making a Splash
If you’re not making a splash, then your marketing is probably doing a few things really well:
If you can break just one of these patterns, you’ll stand a far better chance of making a splash with your marketing. Need an example? Take a look at the homepage of Whole Foods. In the bottom center, you’ll see this:
Whole Foods would be perfectly within its rights to build a boring, expected, unremarkable website that listed their offerings — and did little else. Instead, they’ve done something a supermarket never does: they bring something to you. By interacting with customers online and creating a website that’s customizable to your tastes, they spice up the site and make it worth visiting. It’s not normal. It’s not quite expected. But it’s fresh.
What have you been doing with your marketing that’s unexpected? Posting a few Twitter updates now and then? Creating a webpage that reads like a business card? Sit down and brainstorm ideas for changing up the formula if you want a better perspective on why your marketing has stalled.
Has your marketing ever hit the proverbial wall? What did you to do break out of it?