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Why Some Succeed at Marketing While Others Keep Losing Money

Hi, my name is Constantine and I’m a marketer with experience in over 70 projects and 5 years in modern performance marketing. Let’s get to the heart of the matter.

The article is long, but even if you just skim through it, you’ll find a couple of answers on how to build effective marketing. If you read carefully, you’ll probably fill most of the gaps in your understanding of this topic. It’s a broad subject that requires immersion. For instance, I haven’t stopped learning for 6 years now and I don’t see an end to it. And I’m not looking for one.

Me for some emotional connection

Why Do My Clients Grow 2–3x Year-Over-Year While Others Struggle?

Is it luck? Have we found some special tool that works? Or do we know some secret “make money” setting? Don’t rush, I’ll explain everything.

Let’s start with a common language. If we diverge on basic concepts, we’ll hardly understand each other. What is marketing? We could find a couple dozen variations — some more general, others more specific. For me, the main definition is: marketing is the actions taken to increase a business’s sales.

Of course, luck is important in any endeavor. But I view luck differently than success. For me, luck is just as much a sequence of actions as success is. Marketing includes tools, concepts, and ideas that allow you to tame luck and achieve success through practical actions.

What do all these have in common? Actions. Our activity. It’s not about competitors, crises, or circumstances. It always comes down to us and what we concretely do. Some use maps and follow the beaten path as far as they can to then take a massive leap. Others reinvent the wheel 24/7, trying to surprise the world by focusing on things that don’t affect the result.

Or worse: they constantly chase every get-rich-quick scheme that comes their way.

Yes, there’s always some chance of success. But essentially, it works like this: luck is X * Y = where X is the number of opportunities, and Y is how we take advantage of that opportunity. If you chase everything you come across, Y will be close to zero simply because you need persistence, discipline, and systematicity. Success takes time.

Marketing Isn’t a Casino, But Chances and Probabilities Are in Play

Now that we’re more or less speaking a common language regarding the main ideas, let me tell you about my first project. This is better than just talking about myself. This project took quite some time, but now, just 3 years later in the 2023 season, it brought in ~400 000$. Simultaneously, the business saves up to 200$ daily on free traffic while successfully outbidding competitors in advertising.

Roofing and Facade Materials Sales

A brief overview of this B2B business: it works 95% with organizations. There’s a long sales cycle, large tickets (averaging ~1500+$, up to 100 000$), and quite a few nuances regarding the products themselves. A lot of responsibility lies on the managers. 

There were many points where we could have failed to achieve the result. Why did we succeed?

– Understanding of the product and audience 
– Experience with B2B
– Expertise in contextual advertising and SEO
– Trust between the business and us
– Sufficient time to achieve results
– High autonomy — we were essentially only concerned with resources, 99% of everything else was on us. Responsibility and opportunities.

The project is in its 5th year and developed gradually: just filling out the website took over 6 months while creating the shell, templates, and main pages took maybe 4 weeks tops. That’s both the structure and the texts with images. “Creating a website” can mean very different things in different people’s minds.

Such work is almost impossible without the combined efforts of the business and contractors. But we got the result, and the project grows and develops every year. Even by modest estimates, +50% year-over-year growth is not an issue in 2024.

What do I think is the real key to this result? I believe it’s a high degree of trust and autonomy. When everyone sticks to their roles, it saves a huge amount of time and effort on micromanagement, constant discussions, and negotiations. For the most part, internal company processes are extremely inefficient. In my opinion, they’re even archaic within the scope of 2024.

But the main point here is that it’s fixable.

Of course, for such a scheme to work, performers and contractors need to be responsible and diligent people. This isn’t always straightforward in the digital marketing market. It’s a big, painful topic — something you constantly encounter. It’s a sore spot for almost every other business owner. But that’s not the topic for today.

Should You Start Prepared or Not?

Why do 90% of businesses fail to survive their first year? And how can you avoid such a fate?

Even when an established, living, and aging business ventures online, only a handful survive in the free internet zone. The rest have websites, social media, and advertising just for show and to check a box. Why?

Is it because after the first year, a business becomes more resilient? Why is the initial stage so difficult?

There are several filters you’ll need to overcome to establish yourself in the market:

How Serious is Your Approach?

The main filter: the fact is, a business in the startup phase is not a business at all. Especially when starting on loans/attracting money/savings. Because a business earns money, while a startup spends money.

In this respect, it’s often better to start with almost nothing. Expenses kill businesses. So what does a serious approach have to do with it? To understand all this, you need to learn. Constantly and continuously. Or find people who already know all this. Ignorance doesn’t absolve you from ruin. Knowledge doesn’t either, but it significantly reduces the risk.

Does the Product, Idea, and Concept Have a Right to Exist?

That is, we just need to answer the question: can we reach and interest a sufficient number of people with our product at our price?

Hence, the three main problems are no audience, the product is uninteresting, and the price is uninteresting.

Who, How, and From Where Should Learn About You and Buy?

Like the second question, this is about marketing. Because without consumers, there is no business.

Moreover, the viability of a business and its very existence is also about marketing. Without it, there is no business. You can do it intuitively, by chance, but it’s still there in your business.

Why Does My Client Succeed in Earning Money Even With Strong Demand Declines, Off-Season, and Rising Costs?

I’m talking about my client who installs septic tanks for private households. The average ticket is sizable — from 1500$. At the same time, this market is not getting any easier, as the product is quite homogeneous, leaving the options to offer either better service or better prices.

But they have a flexible structure. They can expand production capacity, and they can reduce it during the off-season. Low costs are the key that allows them to survive truly difficult times.

At the same time, during peak season, the project shows stable results: steady growth until 2023 and then a plateau.

Here we see the same key to success again: trust, and autonomy. Plus high flexibility of the business itself.

It turns out we can derive some general rules — to win, you need time, trust, autonomy, sufficient flexibility, and a basic understanding of marketing fundamentals.

For example, just to properly set up lead intake and processing. Honesty and openness with clients — and you get referrals. A willingness to not stand still and to develop, working on both the product and constantly generating ideas.

You can delegate some of this to outsourcing, some you can handle yourself, but the principles themselves are quite universal. You might ask — aren’t principles alone not enough for a business to survive, right? Yes, and below I’ll explain how the marketing process itself is built.

Yes, it often feels like in small businesses, over 80% of the time everything is on fire and there’s never enough time for anything. No, this is not a death sentence.

Grasping at Everything Is Not the Same as Testing

The thing is, marketing is a continuous process of generating ideas. Not just creating them, but constantly testing them. We never know the result for sure, for that we’d need to visit fortune tellers (:sarcasm). We always operate with probabilities.

Do you have experience with this type of advertising in a similar type of business and market? The chances increase. No experience? They decrease.

Although, there are exceptions — when experience clouds your judgment, and expertise stops working due to market changes, then an experienced owner or specialist can only make things worse. Such is the bane of being wise.

That’s why different approaches are needed.

Is there something to borrow from competitors? Great!
Are there working ideas that seemingly could be expanded upon? Excellent!
Is there an absolutely crazy idea that would never occur to someone inside the company? Wonderful! 
Just try them all. Not simultaneously and without rushing. There’s always an opportunity to preliminarily assess the costs and potential results.

I’m Maximally Open to the Audience and Clients — I Have Nothing to Hide

Why do some succeed at testing while others don’t?
Usually, they follow just 4 simple rules:

1. A test is not a casino or an attempt to go all-in. Budgets should match resources and goals. If you can run 2 different tests instead of 1 — do it!

2. Any test does not preclude you from having a bottleneck in sales anywhere (else). That is, you could test advertising for 5 years and be convinced of its ineffectiveness, while all the sales are being lost by the sales department.

3. There should always be someone who has the whole picture in their head. What, why, and for what purpose? Each test has a very important and necessary result. And it’s not money — it’s INFORMATION. The more information you can extract from the test, the better.

4. You should have success, continuation, and termination scenarios for the test. That is, at what outcome do we consider the test successful and move to scaling? At what outcome do we consider the result inconclusive and extend the test duration? And at what outcome do we terminate it and consider the idea unsuccessful?

These rules create the possibility to conduct tests with a guaranteed result. That is, with obtaining conclusions, of course. As long as you expect millions in profits for every 200$ spent, you’re still replacing a business approach with a casino roulette.

A failed test doesn’t always mean stopping work on a direction or idea. First, sometimes it’s all about the nuances and implementation. Second, you may just need to change the approach.

For example, we ran ads for my client for three months and got very, no VERY poor results. I’m talking about unique ear tunnels at A very niche market with clear positioning. At the same time, not the widest choice of traffic channels and has high competition.

Yes, after the first test, general conclusions were drawn, adjustments were made, and — there was even an idea to continue advertising on the banned network. Not for results, but rather to build brand awareness. It was all an ongoing, low-energy process without a big idea.


The owner decided to try again. To go for results but at a higher level. And with new energy, ideas, and data, we restarted advertising a few months later. What did we get? Over $100,000 in revenue with less than $35,000 in costs, enabling the project to develop much faster and quickly introduce new products.

We revamped and updated the website, worked on SEO optimization, and created a regular email newsletter.

It’s been almost a year since we started the new advertising campaign, which might not have happened with a different attitude toward testing and promoting the business as a whole.

A lot of information, right? But I’ll add a little more: do you think it’s possible to forecast your growth, implement tools, and have a complete picture without going insane or turning your team into squeezed lemons?

I’ll answer yes in advance. But I’ll also say — not for everyone. To add to what I described above, you can supplement it with a strong information base, data collection, control, planning, and full work with marketing cycles.

It sounds daunting, sometimes gloomy. But that’s what systematic marketing is. The very thing that replaces putting out fires in the company for the owner with calm 2–3 hour workdays.

What is Systematic Marketing and How Does It Work?

Many things can be called systematic, but I’m talking about an overall system where the business tracks all metrics important for the company’s overall result and ties them to the overall goal. The GOAL.

When you have a clear goal, you can turn around and head toward it. Or at least sit and look at it with understanding. When this small element is missing, everyone will be looking in different directions. There simply won’t be that one direction, that vector.

I don’t want to and cannot describe the entire systematic marketing approach in this article, otherwise it would be twice as long. But I can say that the key points of this — goal, decomposition, tasks, responsibility, control — are accessible to everyone.

Plus, I can describe how a significant part of systematic marketing works — end-to-end analytics. This is a visualization of all expenses and income, where you can see the connections between specific sources of clients, expenses for them, and the resulting profit/income.

For example, I can talk about another one of my clients — a company selling gift portraits and other similar products. Thanks to analytics up to the point of sale, we can track all possible groups and campaigns in targeted advertising. And there are already over 100 of them. And several performers run them in parallel. Yes, you too can organize a real race of “who’s the best/smartest/most profitable” from freelancers, or within your company.

Believe me, it greatly increases motivation. For instance, we’ve been the leaders for several months now, and in addition to an increased percentage, we get that winner’s feeling))

What about the numbers for this project? With $9,000 in costs, the revenue amounted to over $55,000, which fully aligns with our plan for the share of advertising expenses.

Quite a few numbers and letters. So how and why do some succeed while others don’t? Isn’t it all too complicated? This is where the main cause of victories and defeats lies:

Some simply don’t stop, even if everything is “good” for them, and especially not when everything is bad.

I’m talking about the whole team as a whole: the business, contractors, marketers.

Searching for magic pills isn’t that bad — but people still expend too little effort and time on them. Moreover, on average, they don’t pay off due to burnout of any schemes the moment they become too obvious and widespread.

A System Is Always Complex, But That’s How Money Is Made

Money doesn’t come from nowhere and cannot grow from nothing in the long run. Because others will quickly learn to get it too. This is the main problem with magic solutions — others are looking for them too.

That’s why everything above may seem complicated and confusing. And systematic marketing may seem unnecessary. Working schemes last a long time and are successful precisely because they’re difficult to replicate. And it’s certainly impossible to instantly create something that will survive any competition and market changes.

But it is possible to create it with desire, time, and perseverance. Together with specialists — like me and my team. But I always leave the choice up to you, agreed?

If you have the desire to act, where should you start?

If starting — collect as many ideas as possible. Measuring seven times is usually better. Choose the option with minimal costs from all the options. Do more yourself, immerse yourself, and study. Learn from others’ experiences and your practice.

Already running a business — document every process, figure out your numbers. Study the marketing fundamentals. Get a couple of consultations from different specialists. Actions are the second step. Start unraveling the tangle.

If you want to speed things up or reduce potential risks and costs — I’m here for you. I’m not insisting, but I’m providing food for thought. It’s not for nothing that some have been working with me for 5 years, right?

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