Angel Tobey—Treefrog Marketing’s Content Director—explains why small businesses should invest in social media ads.
Episode 126: Why Small Businesses Should Invest in Social Media Ads with Angel Tobey
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LaShonda Brown, award-winning Tech Educator, Coach, and Speaker, explains how small businesses can utilize technology to work less and live more.
Episode 128: How Small Businesses Can Utilize Technology to Work Less & Live More with LaShonda Brown
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January 16, 2024

Episode 127: What If Your Marketing Is What’s Holding You Back?

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As a marketing agency for small businesses, small business owners and leaders regularly ask us, “Why isn’t my marketing working?” We address this question in countless episodes of Priority Pursuit, and if you’d like help assessing your current marketing strategy, check out our “4 Reasons Your Marketing Isn’t Working (& How to Fix It)” guide. 

But, in this episode, we have a question for you: What if the effort you’re putting into your business isn’t the problem? What if your marketing is what’s holding you back? In other words, what if ineffective marketing is the only thing preventing you from reaching your business goals?

Hard work, great products and services, and exceptional customer service are all key factors in building a successful small business. However, these things can only take a company so far. In fact, most small businesses plateau or fail to get to the next level simply because their marketing isn’t equipped to take them any further. 

You work too hard for poor marketing to stand in the way of reaching your business goals. With this in mind, in this episode of Priority Pursuit, Victoria breaks down five signs your marketing is holding you back AND shares a marketing strategy that you can use to—finally—see the business growth you deserve. 


1. You aren’t experiencing business growth. 

The first sign that your marketing is holding you back is if you aren’t experiencing business growth—despite the fact that you’re offering great products, services, and customer service. 

We’ll talk more about the marketing strategy that we recommend for small businesses below, but if you aren’t experiencing steady business growth, your revenue is decreasing or staying stagnant, or if you just cannot seem to meet your business goals no matter what you do, it’s time to assess your marketing strategy. 


2. All of your business is a result of referrals or word of mouth. 

Another sign that your marketing is holding you back is that all of your business—or at least a majority of it—is a result of referrals or word of mouth. 

Please don’t misunderstand. As a small business, referrals are important. In fact, 92% of people are more likely to trust businesses that friends recommend, and referred customers have a 16% higher lifetime value than the average customer—meaning referred customers are going to be both some of the easiest sales you make and your most profitable clients long term.   

However, if your business depends on referrals and word of mouth alone, you’re arguably leaving your business’s revenue and your and your team’s livelihoods up to others. Because, unless past customers happen to share about your products or services, you won’t have new business coming in. 

On top of this, depending on referrals limits business growth. Because, again, your growth will be dependent upon others choosing to share your business information rather than you reaching new customers through marketing your business well.. 

With this in mind, do an analysis of how your customers are finding you, and if most are referred, your marketing strategy likely needs some attention. 

Again, referrals are great because they show you that you’re serving your customers well. But, if nearly all of your business is a result of referrals, your marketing is likely holding you back and preventing growth. 


3. The customers you’re getting aren’t your ideal clients. 

Another sign that your marketing strategy is holding you back is if the customers you are getting aren’t your ideal customers. If you’re continually dealing with inquiries or clients who aren’t the right fit, something is likely wrong with your marketing messaging

If you’ve listened to a single episode of Priority Pursuit, you likely already know that clear messaging—which is communication that your ideal customers can understand quickly and easily—is the key to successful marketing.

To clarify your message and to make sure all of your marketing messaging speaks directly to your ideal clients, you need to write what we call your “Marketing Guiding Statements.” 


Want messaging that helps you attract your ideal customers? Learn how to write your Marketing Guiding Statements with our free mini course!


Marketing Guiding Statements are simply written guidelines that position your brand and business as a trusted partner. And, the process of writing these guidelines or statements gives you the information you need to write clear, concise, and effective messaging in a story-based framework—which is proven to be the most effective marketing framework.

We’ve done several episodes about Marketing Guiding Statements, so yours may already be done. But, in case you’ve yet to complete this critical step or if you’re now realizing that your messaging isn’t attracting the right customers, check out our free mini course that breaks down exactly how to write your Marketing Guiding Statements


4. Data doesn’t support that your marketing strategy is working.

Another sign that your marketing is holding you back is if data doesn’t reflect that your marketing is working. 

Many small businesses assume that “doing” the marketing work is enough. However, in addition to having a marketing strategy and doing the work, you also need to measure your results. This way, you can ensure what you’re doing is working and is worth your time and money so you can make adjustments as needed.

If data doesn’t support that your current marketing efforts are resulting in leads and sales, your marketing strategy likely isn’t supporting business growth. 


5. You don’t have a clear, effective marketing strategy.

Last but not least, another sign that your marketing is holding you back is simply if you don’t have a clear, effective marketing strategy.

So many small businesses try to market their businesses by piecing together various tactics or the latest marketing trends. However, using marketing tactics and having a marketing strategy are not one and the same. If you’re simply “doing marketing things” as you have time, you cannot expect to see consistent results from your marketing or to experience consistent growth in your business. 

You need a marketing strategy with clear steps and objectives, and as promised, we want to share a marketing strategy with you that is proven to work for small businesses: the flywheel marketing method

We’ve talked about this strategy on the show in the past and have done several episodes about it. If you’d like an overview, we highly recommend going back and listening to or reading “Episode 103: The Best Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: The Flywheel Marketing Method.“ 

That said, we now also have a guide that walks you through the flywheel marketing method in full. This guide breaks down every step of the exact marketing strategy we use for our agency clients


Ready to have a marketing strategy that actually works? Learn how to implement the EXACT strategy we use for our clients: the flywheel marketing strategy!


Whether you want to implement this strategy on your own or just better understand it, we want to invite you to download our guide: ”The Most Effective Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: The Flywheel Marketing Method.”

As a marketing agency for small businesses, we recommend the flywheel marketing method for almost all small businesses because:

  1. It’s proven to work. Our clients have experienced up to 800% growth as a result of this strategy. 
  2. Once your flywheel system is built, your marketing will essentially continue to work on its own. As a result, this strategy is ideal for busy small businesses that want to see big, consistent results. 

Like we said before, you work too hard for your marketing to be the thing that’s holding you back. We hope you’ll use this episode to assess the effectiveness of your current marketing efforts and that you won’t let ineffective marketing stand in the way of reaching your business goals. 


Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode


Learn the EXACT marketing strategy we use to help small businesses grow: The Flywheel Marketing Method.



The Priority Pursuit Podcast is a podcast dedicated to helping small business owners define, maintain, and pursue both their personal and business priorities so they can build lives and businesses they love.

You can find The Priority Pursuit Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Stitcher, and wherever you listen to podcasts.



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Victoria Rayburn explains five signs your marketing is holding you back on “The Priority Pursuit Podcast”—a podcast for small businesses.



Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

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