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How to stop wasting marketing dollars on the wrong channels?

By Sander Biehn | Mar 7, 2016

Becoming irrelevant in today’s market should be on the mind of any executive. And it’s not just a problem for startups. Check out the opening lines from this February 2016 HBR article:   “(A) study suggests that 75% of the S&P 500 will turn over in the next 15 years. Another says that one in three companies will delist in the next five years. A third shows that the “topple rate” of industry leaders falling from their perch has doubled in a generation.” (

Now there’s some cheery news.

More than getting the right team on the bus or building a better mouse trap, businesses need to find markets they can sell to and crank up the marketing volume.  In short, they need something called ‘traction.’

It is easier said than done.

Most executives are asking themselves, where should we start? Do we try our hand at email marketing and demand generation using sophisticated marketing automation tools? Do we hire a global team of sales people?  Or do we invest in conference and speaking opportunities?

The choices seem as endless as the budget is limited. 

Gaining market traction can be extremely challenging.  We frequently see one of two things happening. Either there is not enough resource devoted to the marketing plan or the plan continues to invest in methods that aren’t working.

In the book Traction (2015) by Gabe Weinberg and Justin Mares they outline this conundrum.  They point out that most business do not fail at building a product, rather they fail at gaining enough traction in the market with that product.

Weinberg and Mares point to 19 different ways to get traction and suggest businesses “bullseye” just a few at a time to test the results. They also suggest investing in areas where the competition is not already well-established.

This mirrors our experience exactly. It is no wonder.  Our services offer execution on many of the 19 disciplines outlined in the book. At the heart of it lies 3 principles every company looking to gain traction should be paying attention to:

1) Thoroughly test a limited number of ways to gain traction. Even if you don’t have the expertise in-house, get help with it. Try out blogging, social selling, email marketing, etc. Get recommendations from experts on what is needed to thoroughly test each method and make the investment one channel at a time.

2) Move on and figure out what works. Don’t get too comfortable with any method. You need to be ready to drop what isn’t working and try something else. Analytics and measurement should play a major role in your decision-making. Don’t embark on anything you cannot directly measure back to sales. Be scientific in your assessment of any investment you make.

3) Go where your competition isn’t. We have been helping of our clients with an initial SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of the competition in various online channels. Knowing the lay of the land in advance gives us an opportunity to create a plan of attack. We often don’t want to compete head on, and we look for other avenues to market to customers. We also suggest taking best practices from the competition’s online presence and applying them to new channels they are not using.

If traction is a priority for your company, we’d like to discuss it with you. We can help you plan, execute and test various ways to drive business transformation.