Why your marketing isn't working (Intro to the 3 M's)

It’s extremely common that agencies or consultants come to me sharing how their marketing simply isn’t working. They blame it on the tactics and seem to think that everyone who is teaching them tactics is a scam.

They try cold email… and fail.
They try Facebook ads… and fail.
They try content marketing… and fail.
They keep trying new things… and failing.

When your marketing is not producing results, there are 3 foundational elements that can be wrong with it. These are called the “Three M’s”.

In this article, I am going to share those Three M’s with you and give concrete examples of how to think about each one.

An overview of the Three M’s

Simply put, here are the 3 things that can be wrong with any marketing initiative or tactic you kick off.

Message - What you are saying
Market - Who you are saying it to
Medium - How you are saying it to them

That is it. Within those 3 elements is the foundational pieces of everything that can go wrong. If your marketing is not getting results, go back to those foundations.

I must give credit to Dan McDade of PointClear. I interviewed him on the Working Without Pants podcast years ago and he originally taught me this framework which has shaped how I think about marketing to this day. 

Now, let’s dive into those in more detail.

M#1: Message

This one is a doozie and is where 95% of marketing campaigns fail.

When I say “Message” though, I am not just talking about the copy in your cold email, or the content on your website. 

What I am really saying here is that “Message” is your Value Proposition. This is your product or your service and how you talk about and explain that to others.

The problem is that most agencies and consultants have lousy value propositions. They just put themselves out there as generalists with no specific target or niche. 

No joke, I asked someone what their niche was the other day and they said “We build web and mobile apps for startups and Fortune 500 companies"

You and every other dev shop on the planet…

Your value proposition needs to be unique and set you apart. It needs to hook a small subset of customers and tap into a serious pain point that they have. 

Without a strong value proposition, your marketing will fail. 

Your value proposition is a multiplier:

At Lead Cookie, we are a LinkedIn lead generation service. We have a framework of scripts and tactics that we use over and over again for different clients. In total, we have now run over 60 LinkedIn outreach campaigns at the time of this writing! 

We use the same framework and same tactics, yet those 60 campaigns saw drastically different results. 

That is why I have started to describe value proposition as a multiplier.

(Your value proposition) X (Marketing Tactic) = (Results)

In the case of Lead Cookie, we have run 60 campaigns through this equation with the EXACT same marketing tactic. 

We have had several clients literally have to pause our service because we generated too many leads for them… 

And we have other clients who hardly even got a response… 

Same tactics. Different result.

The reason: different value proposition. 

Message: 80% Value proposition / 20% Copy

When it comes to the message framework of the Three M’s. I tend to say that your value proposition determines 80% of your results, and the copy determines 20%.

Recently I had someone come to me for advising who had just hired a company to write professional cold email copy for them. They were upset because they didn’t see a massive lift in their response rate after hiring the company.

I had to break the hard truth to them and say “Your cold email copy isn’t the problem. The problem is the value proposition you are basing your entire marketing around.”

Adjusting your scripts can make a small lift in results, but it won’t fix a poor value prop. 


M#2: Market

The next problem that can happen in a marketing campaign is your market. This is who you decide to target and go after.

You can tie this directly in with your value proposition and also call this your niche or target vertical.

Finding your ideal market can take some experimentation. Recently for a client, we had the belief that the ideal target was the CFO but also believed the secondary target was the CIO. 

We started running outreach to both markets and we were astonished by the results. CIO’s were actually providing a 3x response rate and conversion to call than the CFO. This was counter to what we believed to be true about CIO’s but our value proposition was resonating with them. 

To find your ideal market, you may need to test a few different angles, decision makers or verticals to find the right fit.

Believe in results:

We had a customer at Lead Cookie who was presenting a problem for us. In their first month of service, we were getting terrible results for them. Very few calls and engagement at all.

They had a brilliant offering that was unique in the marketplace, but they couldn’t seem to decide who their ideal contact and buyer was.

For that first month, we had campaigns that targeted 3-4 different types of decision makers. The message was rather general as we were talking to all of these different parts of the business.

Near the end of that first month, they decided to narrow down and focus on a single buyer, the CFO. 

We adjusted all of the copy around their profile and scripts for this CFO buyer. We also shifted to exclusively targeting CFOs. 

The results were immediate. We went from having 4 weeks of horrible results to quality leads within the first 7 days of the new target.

They got clear about exactly who their ideal buyer was, and we focused and narrowed down on them. This helped them clearly articulate their value proposition which produced greater results. 


M#3: Medium

The final area to analyze in any marketing campaign that goes wrong is the medium. Your medium is the tactics, channels or approach that you are using to get in front of your customer.

Examples of medium could be:

  • Cold email
  • LinkedIn outreach
  • Content Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Live events
  • Physical mail
  • Thought leadership
  • Etc. 

I have published a whole list of tactics agencies and consultants use to win new clients here.

Basically, any marketing tactic can serve as a medium to get you in front of your ideal customers. 

But here is the tricky part… Some tactics work well for some companies and not others. 

That is the pain in the rear part about marketing. You just don’t know what tactics are going to work well for you and what are going to fail! 

Same company, two tactics, different results:

We have a client at Lead Cookie who we are seeing great results with. At the same time, that client is also running a cold email campaign. While they are seeing great results with LinkedIn, they are seeing poor results with cold email. 

Simply put, for this specific client, LinkedIn appears to be a better medium than cold email.

On the flip side of that, we have another client. They are seeing great results via cold email, but very minimal results on Linkedin. For this specific email, cold email seems to be a better channel.

It’s impossible to know what medium your market will respond to. That is why you must test various marketing tactics.

How to choose, prioritize and test marketing tactics:

In their book Traction, Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares share what they call the Bullseye Framework which shaped the way I think about marketing tactics. Their process is simple.

  1. Brainstorm all of the tactics you could use
  2. Prioritize those in order of how likely they are to succeed & how easy they are to implement
  3. Test 2-3 tactics at any given time
  4. Focus and repeat the tactics that are working well. Cut those that don’t produce results

It’s super simple and it’s a great framework for marketing.

But here is the kicker… That whole framework is useless if your value proposition is crap, or if you haven’t found your target market.

Junk in, junk out… 

If your value proposition isn’t refined, then it doesn’t matter how many tactics you try, you won’t see any results.


Pulling it all together

Let’s summarize here.

Message - This is made up of your value proposition and the scripting or content of your marketing. 80% of the results will come from your value proposition and 20% of the results will come from your copy.  If you don’t get your value proposition right, then nothing else matters.

Market - This is who you are going after. This is your niche or your vertical. It is also made up of the specific decision makers who you are trying to target. You will need to experiment with your market to see who best responds to your value proposition.

Medium - These are the various marketing tactics that you use to get your message in front of your market. This is the tricky part because some tactics work some companies but not others. That is why you will need to test various tactics and then focus on the tactics that are working best.

If this all overwhelms you, fear not! There are two ways I can help. 

If you are interested in trying out LinkedIn outreach as a tactic to grow your business, reach out to us at Lead Cookie

If you need help refining your value proposition, identifying your market, and choosing tactics then reach out to me about a Sales Teardown & Strategy Blueprint or a Pick-my-brain session. These are engagements where I can personally consult and help you through this. 

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