Think back to your first experience with the gym. Whether it was a freshman weights class, prerequisite in college, or walking in with a clean towel and brand new sneakers to your first 24 Hour Fitness, we all struggled a bit. Many of us had seen some of the equipment before, maybe even tried some out, and probably had mixed emotions and levels of success. Now if we had a great coach, helpful friend, or were just a “natural” our experience was excellent and we likely continued on the fitness path. But if we had to go the solo route, or didn’t have a trainer or possessed little athletic ability, our venture might have left us feeling discouraged and defeated. Why can “they” bench their bodyweight while “I” am trying to figure out what the bench is? Sure all the same equipment is available to both, but without the right guidance and information, the experience can be very different.

When it comes to marketing success and struggles, we can take solace in knowing it’s like our first time working out. We have to know exactly what it is, what our specific goals are, how to navigate with the tools we have and to not be misguided by others and their achievements. It’s not just “Keeping Up with the Joneses” – a costly, pointless, and ultimately wasteful diversion to fit in. Understanding what marketing is, and what it is not, can help realign your expectations so that you discover its true value. Failed marketing campaigns don’t have to be in your future. So let’s get ready to sweat!

Here are the top 3 reasons why so many people think they have failed at marketing (or why they think marketing has failed them). AKA…I hate the gym.

Reason #1

Your target is too broad! (I work out every muscle group using all the equipment I can)

As Entrepreneur puts it: “Resist the temptation to be too general in the hopes of getting a larger slice of the market. That’s like firing 10 bullets in random directions instead of aiming just one dead center of the mark – expensive and dangerous.

Marketing focuses on those individuals that align with your product or service. They desire, need, want, “gots to have” what you are offering. It’s putting content in front of the people that are interested and most likely to buy from you. With your marketing efforts, you should be focusing on your “Target Market.”

Target Market – A specific group of consumers at which a company aims its products and services.

Gary Vaynerchuk says it best in his most recent book, #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness. “I don’t try to convert anyone. No one! None of the content, none of the things I do – books, keynotes, videos, T-shirts – are done in the hope they will convert a single person. I speak only to the already converted, and you should do the same.”

Too many people, business owners and marketing managers alike, fail to focus on their target market. Or worse, they don’t even know who their target market is and as a result, put their efforts into areas that just don’t matter. If you don’t know who your client is, you will never gain the attention you had hoped.

Reason #2

Your marketing efforts failed you because your efforts failed you. (The “I gave the gym a few days/weeks but quit because…” excuse)

Some of you are going to fight me on this one. I can already hear the reasons (cough cough, excuses!). I often hear people say things like, “I tried doing such and such,” or “We did that for a while but.” I can respect the people that say it like it is though, “It was just a lot of work,” or “we couldn’t keep up.” If you’re overloaded please AT LEAST keep content marketing as a main priority.

If you have read any of my blogs (a.k.a rants) before or have ever gotten the chance to meet me in person, you will hear two things come out of my mouth. Content and Data. And I have come to realize that without context, strategy, timeline, execution and everything that goes into those two little words, it is easy to misunderstand how to use them to your advantage. Your single effort when it comes to marketing should be content.

Content Marketing – A form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online.

The question I get constantly is “How much content should I produce” or “How often should I be delivering this content” or “How and where should I focus my efforts?” (i.e. blogs, social media, advertising, publications, etc.).

Think of it like this: If the goal was to lose weight, and you wanted to know how often you should be working out, do you think once or twice a month would ever be a reasonable answer? Do you think focusing your efforts on just one area of physical fitness would do the trick? Of course not. The same holds true for marketing.

Reason #3

Your timeline for success is too small. (I want to look like “that” by next week)

If content is the effort that you put in when it comes to marketing, data is the measure of those results. Think of data as the scale you jump on that tells you how much weight you have lost. Here is the issue with data, though. Some of you jump on that scale daily, or even hourly. Your measurement of time for success is too small. You expect weight loss within a matter of days or weeks, or track success and failure by only what the scale says. And perhaps more dangerously, you allow those measurements to deter you.

Why not try a different approach, one based on input rather than results? I dare you to try something and not track the results! Did I seriously just say that? Yes! If your goal is to do a daily YouTube vlog, just do it and don’t track views, subscribers, shares, or revenue. Instead, focus more on the quality of your content than the measure of what you consider success. If you stick to a consistent fitness plan and don’t worry daily about how you look, you will still have results- and likely will feel better in the proces. Success will come by your genuine effort.

Reason #4

Your need for perfectionism is getting in the way. (The “I don’t look like so and so at the gym, or this part of my body will never look right” attitude)

As the owner of a digital marketing agency, I fall victim to this all the time. I often feel that we have to meet a certain standard. If it’s not “good enough,” then why bother at all? But this line of thinking can be dangerous, as productivity is important in all fields, but particularly in marketing. And perfectionism stifles productivity. It limits creativity, limits brainstorming, limits experimentation, and limits alternative points of view.

So how can you tell if perfectionism is affecting you (or your company’s) marketing efforts? Look for simple signs. An inability to be pleased or satisfied with an outcome. Constantly tinkering with and revising marketing materials or social media posts. Obsessing over minor details and not trusting others to contribute. Does any of this sound familiar?

It is better to be authentic then to try and be perfect.

The worst part is that perfectionism prevents you from being yourself, due to fear of failure. We look at what others are doing and try and mimic it as best we can, rather than focusing on our strengths and making those work for us. In today’s marketing atmosphere, it is better to be authentic then to try and be perfect.

Give yourself a break. Take a deep breath and look over your marketing efforts in the last year or two. If any of this pitfalls have happened to you, congratulations, you’re human. No one’s perfect and we are constantly learning and growing from our mistakes or misunderstandings. The distinguishing characteristic that separates us out is what we do from here. Try something again. Get advice from a colleague or peer. Re-evaluate your goals and attitude. You can only get better. And if you’re really awesome, go give the gym another try.