Ask These 5 Questions Before Blaming Your Business Failures on Marketing

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When a business fails to take off, don’t be so quick to blame marketing. You must understand that marketing is not a magic pill that will solve all your business problems. While it’s true that your marketing campaigns could be improved, it’s very likely that the real problems lie in other, more fundamental areas of the business. So before you focus entirely on marketing proofreading, ask yourself the following five questions:

Do I know how to run a business?

This may seem like a tough question to ask, but one of the reasons most businesses fail is because the founder lacks business acumen. You don’t need an MBA to qualify to run a business, but you do need some knowledge.

If you lack basic skills – like budgeting, writing a business model, reading a profit and loss account, managing cash flow, pricing to make a profit, accounts payable, accounts receivable, etc. – there are resources available. Consider contacting the Small Business Administration and asking about their mentorship program, SCORE. You might also consider asking someone you know who has been successful in business to guide you in the areas in which you are not competent.

Related: Don’t Blame the Marketing: Five Reasons Your Business May Be in Trouble

Do I have the right people in place?

A company is only as good as its employees. One of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make is hanging on to the wrong people for too long. Hire slow and fire fast.

As the CEO of a company, I have to think about my whole staff, not just one person. I will take the time to make sure we train our team well and give them the chance to correct any issues. But at the end of the day, if one person isn’t able to do their job – or worse, if they cause drama for the rest of the team – I’ll let them go.

Sometimes you have the right people, but in the wrong position. I moved someone from sales to fulfillment. They were great with people and our customers liked them, but they weren’t good at closing sales. The move has benefited the company, the customers and this employee.

Do I have a product or service that people want?

Have you taken the time to test your product or service? Have you done your research to determine that what you are offering is, in fact, something that is needed. Ask your customers.

Products fail all the time, and sometimes research is wrong. But most of the time, when a product or service is launched in the market, it is doomed to failure. It might sound like a great idea to sit down with your team over coffee, but it has to be a product that’s needed.

Related: Product-Market Fit: How to Measure If Your Business Meets a Need

Are we up to it?

Your marketing campaign may succeed, but do you have the resources to deliver the product or service? Any money spent on marketing will backfire if your customers have a negative experience.

This has proven more difficult over the past year with supply chain issues. If your product depends on supplies being shipped from overseas, you need to make sure you can get the supplies you need before you start your marketing campaign.

Do I have a marketing plan?

Too many business owners know they need to market their business, but they don’t take the time to strategize. Instead, they take the trial and error approach and start spending money on marketing without a plan.

I run a content marketing agency, and the first question we ask our potential clients is, “Who is your target demographic?” Who are you trying to reach with your product or service? The answer must be specific. The more specific you can be with your target demographic, the more wisely you can spend your marketing dollars. This is where a marketing agency can come in to help. They know which outlets work best for your key target demographics.

Related: If You Don’t Have a Strategic Marketing Plan, You’re Setting Up to Fail

Spending money on marketing won’t teach you how to run a business, hire the right people, fix a bad product, execute the product, or write a marketing plan. But, with the right business model, team, product, execution, and marketing plan, you will succeed.

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