Episode 1: How a failed $183,294 marketing campaign fundamentally changed my approach to marketing

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Show Notes

In July 2011, I was part of a huge marketing promotion. The client had invested $183,294 into their media buy, which promised them 4 million ad impressions, as well as multiple posts on a Facebook page with 8.4 million followers and a Twitter account with 2.5 million followers.

This was my make-it-or-break-it moment. 

Tune in to see why the campaign tanked, what I learned, and how I’ve forever changed my approach to marketing… and why I’m here to teach YOU these lessons so you don’t make these same mistakes!

Transcription of the Episode

You’re listening to the marketing sucks podcast episode number one. Hi, my name is Casey Stanton and I’ll be your guide on this podcast where I’ll help you simplify the complexities of marketing using my functional marketing framework so you can experience more growth in your business in less time with headache.

It was a hot, sticky, muggy July morning in 2011 when my alarm clock on my phone beep just loud enough to wake me up over the sound of the rattling broken ac unit and my small New Orleans apartment. I instinctively grabbed my phone, I turned off the alarm and I opened up my email app and I was stoked. Today was the day. Today was the day that all the hard work I’d put in with my team was gonna pay off. It was the day that we were launching a huge marketing campaign. Okay. How many sales did we have? I was expecting 10 2030 sales, right. Start off strong and I looked and we had no sales.

Okay. Interesting. Maybe there was something wrong with the reporting, so I got into Google analytics and I look there and said, okay, how many page views do we have? Those numbers, when we were expecting hundreds per tents, I got a little sweaty. I got a little worried. I sat up, I grabbed my laptop. As the day progressed, I kept refreshing analytics. I kept refreshing the merchant account to see how many sales we made. I was awaiting for those sales to start rolling in and they didn’t. Around four o’clock we had a call with the client and they said, hey guys, what’s the status? You’ve been working so hard on this. We’re super excited. You know, how are things?

That’s when we broke the bad news. Hey guys, no sales so far. Numbers are a lot lower than we wanted them to be. We were all a little concerned, but we had a long promotion window. We had about a two month long promotion window, so we thought maybe we could turn this thing around. Right? The client had invested over $183,000. I just looked up a report from 2011 they invested $183,294 just in the marketing campaign, not in developing the marketing assets, not in the tech, just in the impressions. And ad space.

When we worked with them, we had over 4 million impressions that we were given on a, an ad network. What that means is our ads were displayed to individuals 4 million times. We also had multiple posts on Facebook where the combined viewership that we had was over 8.6 million followers and on Twitter, over 2.5 million followers. We had a ton of media in $183,000 invested in this campaign. And as the first day progressed, we had zero sales. Second day progress, zero sales. But we thought we had an idea, maybe this thing was broken, maybe that thing was broken. And we worked tirelessly day and night to figure this out. Where do we split tests? What do we need to test? What’s not working? What email’s not going out. Is this link wrong? Everything was right except the sales. Everything was right except the number of visitors on the site.

All in over course. That whole marketing campaign with probably over $200,000 of that client’s money invested in the technology and in the marketing. We had a grand total of three units sold and what’s worse, these units were about 20 bucks a piece. We brought in a grand total of about $70 $70 $183,294 spent, $70 returned. Utter failure. In the moment I thought this was my make it or break it and I broke it and it didn’t work. And there’s a lot of reasons why it didn’t work and I’m going to tell you some of those reasons in these upcoming episodes, but I remember a call that I had with those business owners and that whole team, that product team, and it was an overwhelming conclusion that marketing sucks. Maybe they meant our marketing sucks. Maybe they meant I sucked at it more as a marketer.

Maybe they meant that marketing in general sucks. Maybe marketing is too hard. They weren’t really into the marketing world before they worked with us, but marketing sucked. Marketing sucks when marketing doesn’t drive revenue. It sucks, right? That’s a fact. I’m sure you’ve been there in your business. You’ve run a marketing campaign and it hasn’t returned what it needed to return. That sucks. You do a marketing campaign, you do everything right and it falls flat. That sucks. This podcast is for business owners who want to grow and they want to use marketing, but they don’t want to spend time trying to figure it out on their own. They want to know what’s the right thing to do for them. That’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to be your God and show you that. A few years ago I created a process, a formula that I call the functional marketing framework.

Now, this is something that I battled tested with clients and then I took to Tulane university where I worked as a adjunct professor of marketing for a couple years and I took this and worked it through with the students and really kind of honed it and then I built a business called CMO exponential, a fractional chief marketing officer company, and we run our business based on this framework, the functional marketing framework. This podcast, I’m going to show you how that framework works and how you can apply that to your business. The functional marketing framework is like a new lens that you can don. It’s like a new pair of glasses or binoculars where you can see things totally differently. As a marketer you don’t have to love marketing to listen to this, but you do have to know marketing. By the end of this, you will know marketing. Okay? What I mean is you have to know marketing as a business owner in order to be successful.

Similarly, you have to know sales. You probably have to know them, finance to right, you can outsource a lot of that stuff. I don’t love finance, so I outsource it to a CFO. But you have to know marketing. So at the end of this you can go through these episodes here on the first season and you might say, great, I love this and I want to do more marketing myself. Cool. All the power to you. But you also might say, great, now I know how marketing works and how to hire and how to make sure we’re doing the right thing. That’s another great outcome from you. Listen to this podcast. So don’t feel like you have to love marketing in order for you to listen to this. I want to train you how to see marketing in a new and different way. This podcast is built on three premises.

The first is hard work does not equal success. Now I’m not here to tell you that you can just phone it in and expect to be successful, right? Hard work and grit does equal success at some level. Like hard work is a predictor of success, but hard work in and of itself is not necessarily always going to lead you down the path of success. And let me explain that with a quote by Peter Drucker, who’s like the father of management. He says there’s nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. Does that land with you? Cause that lands with me. Let me tell you that campaign that we ran for $183,000 and we brought back 70, that total utter failure. The thing that fundamentally changed my career, I did the wrong thing. I did things, I did them well, did the wrong thing and I’m going to tell you what was wrong.

The second premise is that marketing should produce revenue. I remember asking my students at two lane, I was like, Hey, you guys are juniors and seniors. Undergrads define for me marketing. What is the definition of marketing? And I had students say, oh, it’s raising awareness. Or it’s you know, it’s showing your product to people. It’s like absolutely not right. To think that that is an acceptable definition of marketing. It’s totally incorrect. I like Johnny Kennedy’s answer, which is marketing is salesmanship multiplied or salesmanship in print. Marketing is selling. If you’re a sales person, you need to multiply your efforts. That’s what marketing does. Marketing automation inside of a sales funnel means automated followups. When people don’t show up for sales calls, that marketing drives results. That drives revenue. Marketing can also bring in new leads. Marketing can also qualify leads. We’ll talk about MQL is in the future, which are marketing qualified leads.

Marketing should produce revenue in an upcoming episodes. I’m going to show you how that works and you’re going to get it on a fundamental level and you’re gonna be able to apply that to the uniqueness of your business. It doesn’t matter if you sell B2B or B2C or like one of my clients, B2B2C. The third premise here is that if you understand marketing, you’re going to be successful. I said this previously, but you can outsource your marketing if you want. I don’t care if you do that, but you have to know that what the person you’re outsourcing it to is doing is successful is the right thing. It’s easy to stay busy in marketing. It’s easy to work on white papers and case studies and landing pages and email copy and social and like all sorts of stuff.

There’s so many things that could just drain energy. You need to understand what’s that tip, what’s that piercing tip that’s going to drive the result? You need it to drive and focus on that. Okay, so those are the three premises here. Now there’s something I want you to do. I’ve got a community for people that are listening to the marketing success podcast and I want you join it. It’s a Facebook community. All you have to do is go to c m o x.co/community. That’s our private redirect. It’s going to go to the Facebook community. You’re going to be able to answer a couple of questions and then I’ll manually let you in, so it might be a day or two before I let you in, but join. Once you’re inside the community, there’ll be exercises, there’s going to be worksheets, there’s going to be discussions.

I’ll even be on there for Facebook lives occasionally to answer your questions live so that you understand how to apply marketing and your business so that you can be successful. I’m here to be your guide. I’ve seen it happen before. I’ve seen people waste so much money. I’ve been part of failed campaigns and they sock and I hate it, and I don’t want you to experience that too. My role here is to be your guide and to help you reduce your suffering, help you reduce your learning curve, and help you create more revenue through better marketing in your business. There’s a lot of freedom to be had when you have more revenue that’s coming in in an automated way through funnels that are predictable. I want to help you make that happen. So subscribe right now to the podcast that you’re listening to either on apple podcasts or Google play, and then go and join the Facebook community. That’s staging.cmox.co/community so please subscribe and I’ll see you in the community.