Top 6 Reasons Why Marketing Fails – Part 1

This post is part of the Masterful Marketing for Small Business Series, where I aim to teach everything you need to know to start building a marketing strategy that works for your business.

WARNING: The information contained in this series will cause you to question what you think you know about successful marketing.

That's the point.

You can read the previous post in this series, What is Marketing REALLY? here.

Marketing fails All. The. Time.

Even the best marketers occasionally create campaigns that flop entirely.

I'm not pointing this out to make you feel hopeless; quite the opposite actually. I want you to cut yourself some slack and stop expecting perfection from your marketing.

In the previous article of this series, I covered 3 of the most common types of marketing. But even if you're using the right type of marketing for your business, there are many reasons why it might not as effective as you'd like it to be.

A lot of this comes down to not having a plan in place, and a lot of it comes down from doing what you're comfortable with, instead of learning how your audience likes to be marketed to. I’ll cover these things a little bit later, but first, let’s go over the

Top Six Reasons Marketing Fails.

AKA Why Most Small Business Marketing Just Plain Sucks and Doesn't Get Results. (this post is broken up into two parts.)


  1. Accidental Marketing

  2. Marketing to No One

  3. Marketing Nothing

  4. Unclear, Weak, or Missing CTAs

  5. Misleading or Missing CTA Follow-up

  6. Not Tracking or Adjusting

Numbers 1 through 3 are covered in this article; 4 through 6 are covered in the next one. 

1. Accidental Marketing

Most marketing material looks something like this:

  • Company Name
  • Company Logo
  • Long list of services offered
  • Claims of “Best Price!” “Best Service!” or “Best Quality!”
  • Offer of a “Free Quote”
  • Contact Details

These are usually laid out with emphasis on the company name & logo, with everything else being squished in underneath.


The problem framework with this is that it's bland and boring.

And it's just like everybody else's. There is literally nothing about this framework that stands out.

And everyone knows it, too.


But these ads sometimes work to bring in a lead, so business owners continue to push them out for fear of missing out on those occasional leads.

However, there's nothing intentional about this framework. There is no thought or strategy in it, and the results from these types of ads are wildly variable, which is why this is referred to as accidental marketing.

Sometimes, accidental marketing ads can be quite visually stunning. But even the best visually stunning designs can't make them work consistently.

Sadly, a lot of businesses will pay graphic designers many thousands of dollars a year to create visually stunning ads and flyers that are effectively useless and boring.

The image on the right is one such example.

This particular ad won a design award in Australia, despite it not being even remotely effective from a marketing perspective.


  • It has all the benchmarks of accidental marketing:
  • The company name is in huge letters.
  • The emphasis is on the company logo.
  • There’s a long list of the services in a very tiny font
  • And the basic contact info is tucked way down in the bottom corner using a ridiculously hard-to-read font.

So what's wrong with this eye-catching flyer?

Stringline Ad

An example of beautifully designed, but entirely ineffective marketing.

Accidental Marketing Ad

The focus is on the business, not the audience. And they’re more interested in the audience knowing who they are, not what they do.

This ad is for an event, yet, there's no booking information. There's a date, but no event time.

It also doesn’t tell people why they should attend this event or even how to attend it.

But this is an award-winning ad. So that's enough, right?

It's really pretty. From an esthetic perspective, it's really well-designed.

But it doesn't DO anything. And your marketing should ALWAYS do something.

2. Marketing to No One

Who is your target audience?

You've heard this before, I know. Maybe you've dismissed the importance of defining it. When I ask my clients this question for the first time, almost everyone one of them says “my audience is everyone,” or “my ideal client is everyone.”

But if your answer is “everyone,” your answer is actually no one and any marketing you attempt is going to fail.

Both attraction marketing and direct response marketing require you to understand who it is you're marketing to in order to be successful.

The biggest failure of a business's marketing is trying to reach everyone with one ad or content piece. When you try to reach everyone, it results in speaking to nobody at all.

You need to understand who your target audience is on an individual level, not a group level.

When you understand the people who your product or services are for, you can create ads that speak directly to that person.

Again, I know you've heard this before, and you've probably ignored it as unimportant or put it off because you think it's hard to create profiles of people.

But it's not.

If you're finding it difficult, it's because you're overthinking it.


Who is your best client?

The one that you LOVE working with?

The one you wish you could work with more often?


That client is the basis for your ideal client.

Let's go back to our "award-winning" flyer for a moment. 

(We're going to be looking at this one A LOT... it's that bad.)

Who is this event FOR?

Trying to reach everyone

Because according to this flyer, it's actually for Stringline Consulting. It's certainly not for the people they're trying – and failing – to reach with these questions:

  • Are you busy? This could not be anywhere vague? Busy how? Busy when? What does this even mean?
  • Who is holding you accountable? What do you mean? That sounds a little bit ominous.
  • How do you measure your business? Can you clarify that question? Maybe I can give you an answer.
  • Can you uncover your biggest business challenge? Can you, Stringline?
  • Spending too much or not enough on marketing? This question is awesome because it's actually trying to reach two different people at once! Huzzah!
  • Do you have good habits or bad habits? Again, trying to reach two people with the same question.
  • How often do you train your people? I don’t have people, so this event obviously isn’t for me.
  • Are you priced correctly? Working for me so far!


Each of these questions is trying to target a different person. If they're trying to reach everybody at once, nobody is going to think “Hey! This is for me!” and nobody's going to attend.

Fun Fact: Stringline Consulting was a real company based in Australia. They went defunct and are in the process of de-registering.

I think perhaps that’s because they overspent on very pretty but highly ineffective marketing like this.

3. Marketing Nothing

What are you promoting?

If your answer is "all your products or services," your answer is nothing.

Same as if you try to market to everyone, if you try to market all your products or services in one piece, you're not promoting anything.

This is the second big biggest failure of a business's marketing, and it's usually done in conjunction with Point 2: Marketing to No One.

It happens because the business owner doesn't know specifically who they're trying to reach, so they don't know what they should be offering.

This leads potential customers to choice-overwhelm and paralysis by analysis.


The First Rule of Successful Marketing: ONE product or service per ad per marketing piece.


When you get to know your ideal client better it will become easier for you to determine what you should be promoting to people.


What is your best-selling product or service?


This is what your clients want.

This is what you should be giving them more of.

This is Part 1 of a two-part article in the Masterful Marketing Series. Part 2 will be published next week. 

Want More?

The next post in this series, Top 6 Reasons Your Marketing Doesn't Get Results, Part 2, will be published next week.

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Trina Waller Expert Marketing Consultant

Hi, I'm Trina.

I've been a digital marketing consultant for almost a decade, and let me tell you, it used to be soooo easy! Just throw up a website, make a few Facebook posts, and boom! Clients! But the atmosphere has changed so drastically and those days are long gone. We've entered an era where literally anyone can (and does) become a digital marketing "expert" and sell their advice online, which makes it really confusing to know who you should be listening to and what strategies you should be implementing.

I've worked with countless entrepreneurs and small business owners over the years, and I'm hearing more and more about their frustrations with successful digital marketing. Their social feeds are filled with experts, webinars and workshops on all the different things they should be doing, leaving them spinning in information overload with no actionable information. I have a growing list of clients that have come to me after spending tens of thousands of dollars on someone's promises of "easy money" that did not get them anywhere near the return on their investment that they were sold.

It's easy to be thrown in many different directions at once with all various expert opinions coming at you constantly. But the biggest thing lacking with all the opinions is the HOW.

I aim to show you HOW.

If you're ready to learn, hop on over here to follow along.

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