Why Is Marketing So Hard?

By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University

Marketing is a numbers game, and there is no guarantee how the numbers will turn out. You could send out a thousand direct mail pieces and maybe get only a dozen responses. Or you could select a small group of highly qualified prospects to contact personally and possibly gain several new clients. It is that uncertainty that makes marketing so hard. Even if you are diligent about doing your research and crafting your pitch, you can never be sure if you are reaching the right person at the right time.

Over the years, I have spoken with many designers who have expressed little or no faith in marketing. They tried marketing and felt the result was not worth the cost and effort. Instead, they rely primarily on word-of-mouth referrals and repeat business for projects. Not coincidentally, many of them are unhappy about the amount of work they get or the revenues they earn.

While you may get lucky now and then and receive a great response to an ad or social network solicitation, marketing is not something you do once in a while to attract new business. Successful marketing requires persistence. In order to establish your brand and maintain a consistent flow of business, you have to devote time to marketing every week. Don’t be disappointed if new prospects are not calling you every week. The cumulative effect of your marketing efforts will pay off over time.

In my experience, the most common reasons why designers do not get a satisfactory result from their marketing efforts, aside from a lack of consistency and persistence, are the following:

  • Inadequate budget. Low-cost efforts result in a low rate of return. Marketing is an investment in future business. You have to spend money to make money.
  • Lack of strategy. Create a marketing plan for 90 days. Who is your ideal client? When are they most likely to engage the services of a designer? How are you most likely to reach them? What message will motivate them to contact you?
  • Not measuring results. As with all plans, you need to adjust your marketing strategy and efforts based on the results you are receiving. Tally the responses and compare what methods or messages are the most effective. Redirect more of your resources and time to those efforts, and stop doing what’s not working. Bear in mind you may need to change strategies over time.

Marketing is never easy, but it is much harder if you only attempt it now and then. Work at it consistently, and you will find it becomes part of your business routine.


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