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6 reasons why your marketing isn’t working

By April 16, 2024April 24th, 2024No Comments
  • and what to do about it!


Assuming you are like every owner of a small business, you want your marketing to deliver the leads you need to grow your business. If your marketing isn’t working, there are six main reasons why. This article will look at each of these six reasons, explain the issue and what you can do about it.

Let’s go!

1. Focusing on the wrong audience

There are currently 68 million people in the UK. The vast majority of these people will never buy what your small business sells, so why do so many businesses try to maximise the size of their target audience?  Too many people believe that trying to appeal to huge numbers will generate more sales. The opposite is actually true, and will save you a huge amount of money that will be wasted when you try to engage huge numbers.good marketing helps your small business hit the target - an image of a dart to support the article

The more people you’re trying to market to, the more your messaging is compromised. It becomes ineffective and a waste of time and money.

Even the biggest companies focus their marketing. They have a range of different products that appeal to different audiences.

What to do

Develop personas for each of your Ideal Clients; most businesses will have more than one. Your marketing must focus on your Ideal Clients to be effective and you can find out more about how to do that here.

2. Ineffective marketing messages

Too many businesses use ineffective marketing messages. 43,600 companies claim to be “London’s leading provider” of whatever they do. 435,000 companies claim to be the “UK’s leading provider” Chances are none of them are – and people won’t believe them either.

Let’s use accountants as an example, but this applies to all business types.  If an accountancy firm’s marketing says “We are accountants” or “We are London’s leading accountants”, there are three problems:

  1. People say “And….”
  2. They have a preconceived idea of what an accountant does – that is often wrong.
  3. They don’t stand out from the competition.

How can we put this? Nobody cares what your business does!

They care about:

  • how you can help them.
  • how you solve their needs and issues.
  • Having someone who understands them.

What to do

Think about the needs and issues of your Ideal Clients and how you can help. Think about what success looks like for your Ideal Clients. That will help you develop far more effective marketing messages.

3. Using the wrong marketing tools

Using the wrong set of marketing tools happens for three reasons:

  • FOMO (the fear of missing out) is often a major problem within small business marketing, particularly when it comes to social media. “If we have content on all the social media platforms, we’re making sure that people don’t miss us”.
  • These are the tools I know and understand”. This is particularly relevant when small business owners are not willing to get some expert advice.
  • A marketing agency sells you what they do as the right set of marketing tools for your business. Find out more about our approach here.

When the wrong tools are being used, it means your marketing isn’t reaching your target audiences. It doesn’t matter how good you are with these tools or how effective your marketing messages are, if they are never seen, they won’t work.

What to do

Yet again, think about your Ideal Clients.

  • social channels are they most likely to be on regularly?
  • How do they travel to work?
  • How are they likely to search for companies who can help them?

If you’re really not sure, you can always ask some of your current clients.

The other thing to do is look at the ROI of each marketing channel up to now (great tool to help you available here).  Which are effective and which aren’t? If something isn’t working, stop doing it and invest that time and money in something that will.


4. Using the right tools poorly

Getting the best from many, particularly online, marketing tools requires training, practice and regular use. That’s why SME Needs works with a range of marketing specialists to deliver what our clients needs. Typical mistakes we see regularly being made include:

  • Email marketing campaigns always being sent to the whole contact list (see some tips here).
  • Social media activity that is only ever posting, rather than engaging with your audience and responding to posts/comments.
  • Very little use of video to explain complex stories.

You may get some results from using the right tools, but imagine what is possible when they are used well!

What to do

This depends on how much time you have available. If you have time and want to do your marketing yourself, get some training. There are plenty of companies that will train you in various aspects of small business marketing.

If you don’t have time, bring in the specialists. Whilst you will have to pay for their services, the ROI from improved marketing will be much higher than you will get without them.

No marketing consistency

Consistent marketing ensures your target audiences see your brand regularly. They get to know more and more about what you do and how you can help. When they realise they need what you sell, they are much more likely to get in touch with you. If your marketing is inconsistent, Sod’s Law says they will need your products/services just after they’ve forgotten who you are because they haven’t seen your brand for some time.

What to do

When planning your marketing, make sure that you are consistent with everything you do. If you simply don’t have time to produce a, for example, LinkedIn post every day, make sure you can get one out every other day. Make use of scheduling tools (we often use Publer and Mailchimp) to help you and build up a bank of marketing material in advance so that you can keep the consistency going.

If you really cannot meet the consistency levels needed (the more competitive your industry, the more frequent you are likely to need to be to maintain and build your brand recognition), bring in some help.

Not doing enough marketing

Related to consistency is the sheer volume of marketing you need to do. The more competitive your industry sector, the more you have to do.  That doesn’t mean doing 10 Instagram posts a day; rather its making sure that you are seen in multiple ways. Unless you have something that makes you markedly different from your competitors, you will need to be seen frequently enough that your brand and your messages are seen sufficiently enough that you are remembered at the same time (and ideally before) your competitors are.

What to do

Based on your Ideal Clients, you need to maximise the number of opportunities they have to see and engage with your brand and your messaging. An omnichannel approach (see here for a full explanation) means people continue to see your brand and your messaging, even when they are not actively searching.


If your marketing isn’t working, let’s talk. After reading this, you may have identified why your marketing isn’t working and simply need help fixing the issue. If you need help identifying why it isn’t working, that is always the first step we take new clients through. Give us a call on 020 8634 5911 or simply book a meeting into Nigel’s diary by clicking here.


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