Can You Tell When a Digital Marketing Plan Will Fail? | SEO’Brien

Think of the funnel.

Here’s one I found from, SKYWORD

Now, the sign that someone’s digital marketing plan will fail is that the business, budget, decision makers, and marketers, don’t start at the bottom, they focus somewhere in the middle.

I’ve been in such situations FAR too many times...

You’re getting to know a business and the conversation turns to their online marketing; perhaps they have their “marketer” or agency in the room.

And you ask, “what’s your conversion rate?”


As in big fat noisy crickets

That chirp isn’t just what we hear because the room is silent. It’s the Star Trek Red Alert signal going off and it’s at that point where I look something like this

Actually, more like this…

More like that because #WTF

“You’re paying to run ads AND paying someone to run those ads, and you have no idea if they’re converting??”

“Well… we’re getting leads… and this is really about generating awareness…”

“Ah, okay,” (I say, just to be nice and not offend the [quote unquote] marketer who supposedly knows what they’re doing} “So… how is that performing relative to competitors / what is the bounce rate / how much money are you making / why Facebook ads / why Google Adwords?”

And here’s the thing…

That Marketing Funnel is as antiquated an idea as they come. Someone needs to take that funnel out to the backyard behind the shed and put it out of it’s misery.

This is Old Yeller people, not a real dog. Relax. Cue the tears

At the VERY LEAST, the business, decision maker, budget, and marketer/agency should be thinking more like this. Which I grabbed from DIGGITY Marketing. (and if you suspect I’m going to call this old fashioned too, you’re right).

Notice how our funnel introduces the FACT that “Digital Marketing” is about Customer Relationships (CRM) and how you Retain people. It’s about converting potential customers, which means website development, landing page optimization, and sales. Digital Marketing is about creating exposure on social media, with bloggers and press, and through podcasts… it’s about enabling Discovery so that when a potential partner or customer seeks you, they find you, on Search Engines and Linkedin.

What is a sign that someone’s digital marketing plan will fail?

That you’re running ads or doing posts or creating content and you have nothing else in place and no idea what’s going on.

And here’s the thing…

The other thing…

So, how can I tell that someone’s digital marketing plan will fail? Because it’s not just, “marketing plan

I can tell that you’re looking only at Facebook or Google, maybe Twitter or Instagram… perhaps YouTube… and you’re thinking, “how do I just do that online thing to get more sales??”

A marketing plan is more like a flywheel, not a funnel

Now, I don’t have an example of marketing designed as a flywheel but I have developed the concept for startups raising capital.

A flywheel is a rotating device that is used to build, store, and discharge energy. This cycle is not unlike what founders do as they cycle through the various stages of a startup.

The purpose of a flywheel is to provide continuous energy when the energy source is discontinuous. Indeed, your energy and that of your team and work, is going to wrestle through ups and downs; rather than perceiving your work as wins and losses, all of your effort is building and storing momentum that should be used to move you forward.

Delivering energy at rates beyond the ability of standard energy source, a flywheel collects energy so as to release it at greater rates; not unlike the acceleration a startup receives in a venture program or, when that funding is secured, and a team moves forward at a greater pace of innovation.

Take a look

Notice in there, “Awareness”

Part of our marketing funnel, no?

So take our marketing funnel considerations and drop them in a flywheel.

You need to create awareness in order to influence consideration and you need consideration in order to impact conversion BUT that conversion needs to be easy, compelling, and priced right, in order for any of the other effort to matter… and once converted, then what? We drive retention, engagement, and a great experience so that our converted customer spreads the word and…. creates more awareness.

This entire process is Marketing. Any gap, particularly in the team doing this work for you, is the only sign needed that it’s going to fail.

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