Compared to rocket science you could argue that marketing is easy. But that’s a relative concept. Here are a few reasons it’s hard…
It’s like sales, but different
Marketing is pretty close to sales and there are very few people who actually enjoy the sales process. Witness the subtle removal of the word ‘sales’ from job descriptions on business cards. The word ‘marketing’ is often just popped right in there!
Marketing’s role is to support sales and to make the sales job easier - whether that’s for a real salesperson or for a website.
Business owners and founders sometimes find the sales part of the work hard - you have a lot invested in your business and you don’t want to stuff it up, and you’re more likely to take rejection more personally - it’s your own idea that’s being rejected, not just the product.
And finally - business owners often come from the operational side of the business and sales ‘just isn’t their bag’. The archetypal sales person personality - the ‘tall poppy’ is not something that everyone aspires to.
Not all people think like you
A lot of business ideas come from things that founders from their own personal experience saw as a niche that needed filling. Sometimes it turns out there aren’t very many people that agree with that.
In marketing as well the temptation is to use words that you think best describe the advantages of the product or service. But this often ends up being a form of jargon that doesn’t mean much to your ideal client.
You end up being too close to what you do to describe it effectively. Better to interview a bunch of your customers and see how they describe the reasons they buy and use your product - their words are likely to be more persuasive and phrased in language that is more likely to appeal to other people like them.
The importance of marketing is often downgraded
Many people go into business because they’re fed up working for someone else or they need a job and go into contracting their services out. There’s nothing wrong with this, but author of The E-Myth Michael Gerber points out that business owners need to wear multiple hats - including sales, marketing, operations, finance, and HR, and many business owners start off really only knowing one area - often ‘operations’ i.e. doing the work. Finding clients is pretty important, but the temptation is to focus on doing the work when finding clients is a critical component of any business.
What marketing to do?
Then there’s the difficulty in knowing where to spend your marketing budget. It used to be pretty straightforward but now there are thousands of ways of blowing a marketing budget. When there’s a huge amount of choice, the brain gives up and doesn’t make a decision, rather than making a choice. And inaction is the biggest killer of sales.
The answer - and this is a massive oversimplification - is to 1) make a choice, 2) not bet the farm on any one marketing strategy and 3) be prepared to continually be testing various marketing strategies and messages until you find the ones that really work.
It helps if you have already 4) identified your perfect client.
It’s not easy - it’s hard, but it’s not rocket science.