Failure is just the feedback required for success

Hello, and welcome. Today I want to share with you a story of when I failed a client. Because this experience helped to not only reveal something about myself but reveal something about my industry. It put me on the path towards Marketing Broker Australia. Now before I get started, if you have a similar story to one that I’m about to share, when you felt like a marketing professional, or an agency had failed you, please do share your story in the comments below. I love to hear it. I love to speak to you about it and learn more about those experiences because that’s the purpose of the business I set up, Marketing Broker Australia. To ensure that the businesses that go through our platform, that go through our services, never have to go through that. Never have to feel like they’ve been underserved, undervalued and mistreated and more importantly felt like they’ve been left out of their marketing process and not getting the growth they were looking for.

So let me share with you the story of when I failed a client, about two years ago. I had met this client, within the first month of starting a new digital marketing agency – Eudomia Group. The client had an e-commerce store where she made her products and sold it through the web store. The product was an ideal gift for new mums. So I met with her. I loved the idea. The quality of the product was fantastic. I was utterly sold on what it was that she was trying to do. She took me through what her growth objectives are and what she was looking for from an agency. Now, I was very transparent to let her know that we just started; we were brand-new. I’ve got a wealth of experience in the space of marketing, but I was just entering the digital marketing space. I was transparent that I would be learning this as I went. She also went to a larger, more established digital marketing agency, that was significantly more expensive. They communicated their experience, outlined specific execution details, and had established more trust with the client that they would deliver upon their promises. So she chose to partner with them, the other larger agency over us – I understood this choice.

In the meantime, as I said, I was a fan of the product. I continued to engage with her content on Facebook and maintain that relationship. A few months later, she reached out to us. She had been working with this larger agency for a little while, and there was something about the experience she was not comfortable with. She was seeking another set of eyes on it. As I was honest and transparent when we first met, she felt comfortable getting my opinion on what was taking place with this larger agency. So we caught up and went through the proposal they had sent through. I got to be honest; I was just stunned. I was stunned by its lack of detail; it’s lack of insight, it’s lack of data, its lack of any real accountability. To me, it felt overpriced in terms of what they were offering, particularly for a business making under $100,000 a year. I understood why she felt uncomfortable about the proposal, which was going to be her largest investment over the year, secondary to a website. She also shared with me the monthly reports that they were showing her as well, and unfortunately again, I was stunned. These were just automated data dump reports they were sending out. Eight pages, pulling data from Google and social media. You felt as if you needed a degree to interpret what the data meant. There was no commentary, no analysis, no details on what’s working, and not working. Just bang he’s the data you figure it out. There was minimal customer service being offered. I was just surprised. I offered to help, to have us take on her marketing for her.

So she took a chance on us. We put together a much more detailed marketing plan. We did a landscape assessment, reviewing her industry. We did a competitor review, benchmarking her website and socials against others that offered similar products to a similar target market. We looked at the different mummy groups on Facebook and provided some recommendations of which ones are ideal for sharing content. We provided a 12-month seasonal campaign strategy, focusing on the seasonal gifting periods. Plus developed key messages and example content. So all the things that you would expect to see in a much more detailed marketing plan with clear objectives. We outlined a few key execution details, such as email marketing and Facebook. The proposal from the other agency included training. To better manage her spend, I recommended a few free online courses she could take, such as Facebook Blueprint and LinkedIn Learning (previously Lynda). Her spend directed at the more complicated tactics such as setting up her MailChimp databases, graphic design and Facebook business manager set up. We created the content for the first phase of her campaign, using templates, so she could self manage afterwards. We made good quality content, but there was one big thing that was missing. I’ll come back to what that is because it will explain why the campaign ultimately failed.

She started by self-managing the campaign and had some early success. A few months in, she brought us in to help manage the Christmas campaign, the most important of the year. Building upon the plan we had shared earlier, we developed a series of new content, targeting mummy groups. The first month the campaign bombed. We took the lessons and expanded the campaign, revised the content and audience targeting. The promise I made to her right from the get-go, as we were learning as went, I will not charge for my time unless we deliver on the agreed targets. The only costs to her were the ads themselves and the copywriter we brought in to help out. So month one we didn’t deliver, month two we expanded the campaign, and it did better than the first month, but not to the benchmark that we had set. We were disappointed with the results, and the client opted not to move forward with month three. So what happened, why did the campaign ultimately fail? We did not build the campaign around the consumer journey—a multi-staged campaign to move the consumer from the awareness stage right through to purchase and advocacy. We had not gone through that process, and therefore the content jumped straight to selling, vs building interest and trust. The content was too one-sided, very sales-y. The campaign needed time to develop and nurture an audience, ready to buy.

What was the lesson for me, the “ha-ha” moment from this whole experience? A business owner, making under $100,000 a year, looking for marketing advice, despite her best efforts, did not get the guidance she needed. She started with a large established agency, that underdelivered and overcharged. She felt like every request for help, came with a price tag. Then she’s gone to someone like myself; I had good intentions, was honest and transparent about my experience – but also under-delivered. Unlike the other agency, I took responsibility and did not charge her for my time. At the end of the day, what is she supposed to do? All this money has been spent – the marketing seems to have failed. Here is the good news, is she’s doing well now. So the marketing plan that would put together led to some excellent insights. She completed the online training and attended a few local training events. She was always great at connecting with her audience, and through persistence, and a little trial and error, found a way to grow her business.

The experience with her, plus hearing countless stories from other business owners, having a similar experience, put me on the path to Marketing Broker Australia. I wanted to find a way to overcome this issue. Business owners were stuck, not knowing who to work with and not finding out if they are any good until after they have used their marketing services for a few months. It’s not where the marketing industry needs to be. We need to be better than this. One of the big problems with the marketing industry is that there are no requirements for qualifications or certifications. You’re not required to join an industry body. There are no minimum standards for campaign performance. It still feels like it’s a little bit of the Wild Wild West. It’s an industry that’s still developing, still finding its voice in terms of how to police it.

That’s why there’s this explosion of digital marketers, and we are all being inundated with Facebook and YouTube ads of people promising the world. It’s a terrifying space for businesses to work out who to work with? So for me what I did, the way I can solve it, is to make sure that kind of mistake, that kind of fail will never happen again. I spent time researching and completing online courses. I spoke with other marketing professionals. I knew I had the breadth of knowledge on marketing and branding and a wealth of experience on project management and trade marketing. I wanted to find people with a depth of knowledge in a specific tactic – marketers that have spent years on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, customer relationship marketing, and email marketing. I wanted to find these experts and spend time talking to them. What I found is that many of them are very generous with their time; those who are genuine experts in their field love what they do and very open to sharing it.

My journey of actively looking for experts to talk too helped close my gaps. I realised that this is a service that I can offer people. I can sit down, meet with a business owner and get a sense of where they are, and where they want to go. Put forward a strategy outline on what success looks like and calculate a budget. That way, the business owner and I know what we want from a marketing agency or professional. My experience, from my days working with, exceptional brand managers, to the training that I have, from being a lecturer and tutor of marketing, working with hundreds of students every year. I know what the right marketing traits of a marketing professional are. These traits include customer service – they generally care about the clients. They want to share their knowledge, wisdom and help develop their client. They have not bought into this idea of a minimum value proposition, offering the minimum amount of service to justify the price charged. They should appreciate data and actively use it, to pull its insights and report on it with commentary for the business owner. Share what is working, not working and what to do differently next time. They understand the importance of partnering with the client to include them in the process.

That is what led to Marketing Broker Australia. I set out to build a platform to protect the business owner. I personally vet every marketing professional and provide the tools to manage them. So the business owner knows what to expect in terms of growth, spend and return on investment. They are always in control. That is how I can help. I know its an odd story to tell in terms of, sharing an experience of when I failed a client, and I am still heartbroken, a year later. However, it put me onto this amazing journey. I’m making sure that the experience that she had, the experience you may share as well does not happen again. I want to ensure business owners are always working with professionals with the right accountability.

So if you’ve got a story to share, please do jump down in the comments below. Feel free to email me as well. I love to hear your stories. I want to make sure I continue to address the concerns you have when looking for marketing resources or marketing professionals. If you’re looking for more information, please jump on our website. My name is Luke Hawley, managing director of Marketing Broker Australia. Thank you for taking the time to watch this video. Bye. If you would to speak to a Marketing Broker about the marketing of your business, please visit our contact us page to learn more and book your free consultation.