Hit a marketing roadblock in your business? Ask yourself these 4 questions to get unstuck

I usually get inquiries about my marketing or consulting services in various places – DM’s, inboxes, LinkedIn requests – you name it.  I don’t mind responding to a majority of them because I know how it feels when you’re reaching out to better yourself and your business.

The most sincerest of requests tend to go a little something like this:

“Hi Vannesia, can you help me with marketing my business? I’ve been trying a lot of things, but I don’t know why nothing is working.”

I often ask them 2-3 more probing questions. As I unpack the layers (and sometimes horror stories), it becomes clear very quickly where their angst is coming from. 

There could be a lack of systems in their business, an issue with their product or service that is negatively impacting the customer, or they may just be squeezing the dear LIFE out of their former passion project.

To the untrained eye that’s become consumed with making more money, these typically get masked as “marketing problems,” but that’s not always the case. So today, I’m coming to snatch the mask off.

Here’s the real marketing tea I want you to sip on: Many issues that arise aren’t from the lack of marketing at all, it is typically a lack of business structure (take a sip and then write that down)

If you think you need to “have more marketing,” keep reading.

Marketing Is Just the Icing on the Cake

I grew up playing the piano and whenever I didn’t really learn a song, I would throw in all sorts of riffs and runs, trying to sound impressive. One day my Mom told me to just play the song without all the frills. She quickly saw all of the extra fluff was a coverup for not learning the song and used a cake analogy to explain why she had me play the simple version:

“All the runs are just icing on the cake, but you can’t eat icing by itself,” she started, “There’s no substance there. You want to be the cake and not just the icing.”

Now, don’t be fooled. It sounds all nice and sweet when you read it, but my Mom worked in the Criminal Justice field so this was an edge snatching moment in Marketing 101.

[irp posts=”179″ name=”Why the Motive Driving Your Marketing Decisions Matters”]

When it comes to fixing a “problem with your marketing,” a great place to start is to critically examine both the functionality and efficiency of your product or service.

Here’s two reasons why:

  1. marketing can be learned 
  2. a good product / service can sell itself

Now, there’s some special ones who sprinkle their magic pixie dust on everything and it turns to pure marketing gold. I believe those unicorns are truly anointed in the “let’s go viral” ministry.

However, there’s hope for the rest of us mere muggles!

I can say with confidence that “marketing can be learned,” because I learned it.

Everything I initially knew about marketing was because I read, consumed, asked, tested, tracked or observed it. Upon seeing initial success, I threw fire on the gasoline by stacking traditional learning on top of my experience (requesting my employer to pay for it…hello!).

And here’s the reality…I’m STILL learning everyday. That’s how I know you can too.

But, before you sign up for your next online course, be sure you’re solving the correct problem. Here’s some questions to ask yourself when you’ve hit your marketing roadblock:

1. What is not working in my business?

We’re going back to quantifying and qualifying your need here. You can’t just say “It’s not working” or “I’m not selling.” You know your business better than anyone else. Be specific and keep asking yourself “Why not” until you find the root problem. This can look something like this:

  1. My candles aren’t selling (why not?)
  2. I don’t have customers (why not?)
  3. I don’t know where to find customers

The real problem is this: My candles aren’t selling because I don’t know who my customers are, so I can’t find them, so I can’t talk to them to sell my candles.

Possible solution: To make your candles irresistible, you have to find out what’s not desirable about them. Create a focus group of potential customers who come smell your candles and give honest feedback about them. Maybe your candles aren’t scented heavily enough or perhaps they carry too strong of an odor or maybe you’re not using relatable words on your website.

See how we are one step closer to solving the selling problem without buying a single facebook ad?

2. What is the #1 outcome I would like to see in my business?

Don’t stop at saying “I want to sell more music” or “I want to book speaking engagements. Put some meaningful metrics behind it.

“I want to book 4 paid speaking engagements at my rate for the fourth quarter of 2019.”

3. What have I already done to help me reach my #1 outcome?

Tough love coming: sometimes we’re just not working smart enough.

The level of input it takes to become skilled at your craft isn’t for the faint of heart.

My #1 goal since I was 15 years years old was to be in the Gospel music industry. So me taking an unpaid internship, sleeping on my Aunt’s couch for a summer, driving an hour to the office, moving home when I ran out of money, busting my butt in college, DM’ing a CEO for job, moving 5 hours away from home, and even getting a seasonal gig at Babies R Us on the weekends while working a full time job to get there was worth it.

With a goal in mind, you can weigh various opportunities to see if they are in line with fulfilling it. You can weed out distractions, fillers, and fluff.

There are going to be some sacrifices you have to make. Can you quantify your efforts and track your success? Does what you’re doing lead to your #1 goal?

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4. Do I know my current audience?

Notice how that question is not “Do I know my target audience?” If you already have a business, you can not neglect the people who are currently utilizing your product/service. How are you serving them and do you know what they need from you?

You want to always be specific about your goals and your customer. As a result, your marketing will become more natural and authentic. 

Take a step back  to see the full picture

The true people making genuine connections and using social media apps to generate money have major skills. Nothing is wrong with being an influencer, but you don’t need to be an influencer to generate revenue and take home a profit. 

Get concise about your product/service, the offer, your clientele, your industry, and your pricing. The more stable you make your foundation, the easier the marketing will be.

[Tweet “”First get concise about your product/service, offer, clientele, your industry, and pricing. Then your marketing becomes a whole lot easier.” – @vannesiadarby”]

Always speak life,


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