Here’s Why Your Digital Marketing Efforts Fail and What to Do About It


In a renowned anecdote, Albert Einstein is said to have given his graduating class the same exam paper two years in a row. His assistant, worried that the great scientist had made an error, alerted him. Einstein’s reply was simple: “Yes, it’s the identical test. But the answers have been altered.”

This wasn’t a sign of Einstein’s forgetfulness, but his wisdom. Just as the solutions in physics evolve with each new discovery, so do the solutions in business and marketing.

The question is the same, both now and in the past: how do we attract more customers without breaking the bank? This million-dollar question may have been answered in the past with strategies like TV or newspaper advertising. 

Today, our answer is digital marketing. As Einstein aptly pointed out, the questions remain but the answers have changed. The issue is that our tactics have not adapted to these new answers. We are still trapped in the old paradigm of marketing and customer acquisition. Let’s delve deeper.

Traditional vs Modern Marketing

A key distinction between traditional and modern marketing is targeting. Traditional platforms like newspapers and TV are mass-market channels. You place an ad, and essentially everyone sees it. 

This approach lacks the ability to target specific audiences, leading to inefficiencies in marketing spend. But with platforms like Google and Facebook, you can target with precision. And with the advent of AI, this targeting is becoming even more precise.

However, there’s a problem. When I ask small and medium enterprises who their target audience is, most of them respond, “Everyone”. This approach won’t cut it in today’s era. It’s not just about having demographic information such as age, gender, and occupation to set the right targeting on Facebook. 

AI can do the targeting now. The key is not just reaching the right audience, but communicating with them effectively. The messaging is crucial.

The question remains the same (who is your target audience?), but the answer has evolved. We need more than just demographic information. We need psychographics – an understanding of the target audience’s pain points, goals, and objections. This enables us to tailor a specific message that resonates with them.

For instance, wouldn’t a person seeking wedding photography respond differently to an ad than someone looking for commercial photography? Wouldn’t a bride-to-be searching for a photographer for her big day have different requirements than a purchasing manager in a food and beverage franchise seeking food photography for her menu? Of course, they would.

Consider a photography business. A typical, standard ad might read: “Tan Ah Kaw Photography – Best Photography in Singapore. We cover all types of photography: commercial, wedding, and more. Enjoy a 10% discount. Call us now.” This sort of advertisement is common for mediums like newspapers, where you’re aiming to appeal to a broad audience. However, this generic approach doesn’t cut it on platforms like Facebook or Google.

The beauty of Facebook and Google is their ability to reach specific target audiences. Hence, we should leverage this by using language that appeals directly to these groups.

On these platforms, I would create the following ad:

Headline – “Create memories that will bring a smile to your face, even a decade later.”

Benefits include:

  1. We’re familiar with the best venues in Singapore for your pre-wedding shoot.
  2. There are no hidden fees with us.
  3. We’re experienced in quickly warming up you and your guests for natural, candid shots.

This ad is starkly different from the generic Tan Ah Kaw Photography ad. If you’re a bride-to-be, you’re likely to click on the second ad. But why is this the case?

The headline, “Create memories that will bring a smile to your face, even a decade later,” appeals to the emotions of the target audience. We understand that they want a memorable wedding free from regrets, and the headline aims to resonate with that sentiment. 

As for the benefits, we address common pain points like finding the right venue and avoiding hidden fees. Capturing candid shots is also a frequent request.

The point of defining the target audience isn’t just for setting up accurate targeting on Facebook. It’s more about crafting the right message to speak to the target audience. Moreover, when your message is on point, you’re actually aiding the Facebook AI in finding the right audience.

Facebook’s algorithm works in such a way that it shows your ad to more people similar to those who have clicked on it. Your ad acts as a magnet, pulling in the right audience and repelling the rest. This is why getting the message right is crucial. 

But it all starts with defining the right target audience and thoroughly understanding their psychographics.

Think of it this way: Why do businesses engage in one-to-one sales? The closing rate is high because you can tailor your solution to the specific needs and circumstances of the prospect. The same concept applies in digital marketing. 

The more specific your solution, the higher the chance of conversion. It’s a fundamental rule of marketing and sales. That’s why defining the target audience is a priority. In essence, digital marketing is about creating a strong intersection between sales and marketing. It’s essentially digital salesmanship. 

The question remains the same: How can we attract more customers? But the answer and the approach have evolved.

Understanding the problem better positions you as someone who likely has the solution. In the past, you could place an ad in the Yellow Pages, part with a hefty sum, and consider your marketing for the year. Today, you have to contend with Google, social media, blogs, websites, and countless other factors.

As a result, many trying to market their business become paralyzed by the “bright shiny object syndrome,” where they get caught up in whatever the current “hot” marketing tactics are, such as SEO, video, podcasting, pay-per-click advertising, and so on. 

They get preoccupied with tools and tactics and lose sight of the big picture of what they’re trying to achieve and why. This is a common pitfall for many business owners. They string together a series of random tactics, hoping it will lead to a customer. 

Tactics without strategy lead to the “bright shiny object syndrome.”


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