How to do marketing that actually works


You are in a race with your competitors

In a bike race, you want your bike to be as fast and powerful as possible. The best rider on the fastest bike will win the race.

In the race to get customers, you’re competing against other businesses in your area who offer something similar to your business. You’re probably keeping an eye on what they’re doing to get to more customers, faster. Perhaps they’ve started a special offer, or they’re open for longer, or they seem to post a lot on Facebook.

If you were in a bike race, you’d be doing something similar - what are the other race teams doing for tyres, engine tuning, and so on? Could a small adjustment to suspension give you the edge which gets your bike to the finish line faster than anyone else’s?

What bike have you brought?

pedalbicycleBut what if your bike doesn’t even have an engine? What if you’ve turned up to the race with your pedal bicycle, and it’s a motorbike race?

You could be the best rider in the world, with the best support team, the very latest technology in your bike and gear, and the best mindset and commitment.

But if you’ve brought a pedal bicycle to a motorbike race, you’re going to come last.

Sadly, that’s what we see many businesses doing. In their digital marketing, they’ve brought pedal bicycles to a motorbike race.

The Digital Marketing "bike race"

Here’s how the bike race metaphor plays out for businesses and their digital marketing.

A business owner wants to get more customers and be more visible in their market, so they turn to the digital world. First step? “Let’s redesign our website.”

The new website costs a fair bit of time and money to get right, and when it’s up it looks good.

The web designer suggests that some SEO work is needed to make the website rank well in the search engines, so the business owner pays for a campaign to improve keywords and get links. He even uses some of his own time to do some of the work after going to a course on SEO.

Then the business owner decides to copy what he sees a competitor doing, and start posting on Facebook every day, asking people to “like and share”.

This all goes on for a few months. The race is on.

And our business owner? He loses.

Very few new customers, very little business growth. Lots of costs.

Meanwhile, that competitor is going from strength to strength, attracting a huge number of the customers. They’ve clearly won the race.

So what went wrong? Our business owner brought a pedal bicycle to a motorbike race.

Just do what works

That competing business was using paid ads on Google and Facebook to get in front of new customers in the target market.

That was their motorbike. It maybe wasn’t even a super-charged, 200 mph motorbike. Any motorbike would do, because the other racers were on pedal bicycles.

The competing business owner was using a digital marketing company who had developed a strategy precisely suited to their customers. And paying to get in front of exactly the right people on Google and Facebook meant that the incoming enquiries the business received were from ready-to-buy customers. Minimum time-wasting, maximum sales, so the advertising budget produced a 3x-5x return on investment.

Our business owner on a pedal bicycle made the big mistake of deciding what to do based on something other than what actually works. He thought a new website would be a good idea, but never really stopped to work out why. He perhaps didn't want to spend money on "paid traffic" because he was worried about just having ongoing costs.

This is, unfortunately, the way many business owners think. They spend money on marketing without much hope of ever knowing whether it was a good use of that money or not.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The most effective tactic

Paid traffic isn't always the best thing to do to get more customers. It varies depending on the business, competition, industry, customers and target market. But there is always something which is the MOST effective tactic, where the highest return on investment will be made. Doing anything other that that is like bringing a pedal bicycle to a motorbike race. You can do other things really, really well, but you still won't win.

Many businesses are working really hard, but they're pedalling bicycles uphill while their competitors zip past them on Hondas, Yamahas and Suzukis.

At Groweb we race motorbikes. Our Services page explains more if you’re interested.

Geoff Todd
Author: Geoff Todd
Founder, Digital Marketing Consultant
Before founding Groweb, Geoff worked in IT for a number of years, though he originally studied Philosophy at Stirling University. Geoff lives in Stirling with his wife and two children, and helped start the new Cornerstone Community Church in Stirling in 2015.