This note was inspired by an exchange on Twitter on Monday:

For some reason, that last line really hit hard.

It’s something I’ve seen so many campaigns fall foul of over the years.

  • Course (or in fact any product)
  • Audience
  • Offer
  • Marketing

All in alignment.

It seems kind of obvious, but lets look at a few places I’ve seen it get screwed up.

An easy one is looking at how people build their lists for high-value offers.

People who pay a lot of money for courses and coaching are usually stuck somewhere other than on the first rung. They have higher level problems, like hiring, and scaling up.

So, you start building a list of those people.

But it’s slow.

It’s slow because people scaling rather than failing are a tiny % of the market.

So you lose your nerve and start offering lead magnets with “101 subject lines” or “how to build an opt-in page”.

It looks like you’re doing the right thing because subs go up and engagement goes up, but you’ve built a list of minnows, not whales.

The marketing isn’t bringing the audience you want, so everything after that is out of alignment.

Think of it this way:

Marketing is working backwards from the customer to the factory.

You have to start with the customer you want and work back from there.

I see this go off the rails in 3 places:

Marketing tactics

I see it most often when people skip the first step and dive into tactics with the marketing, particularly marketing tactics with “impressive” numbers like TikTok views. They get seduced into a channel by the numbers, not by their customer’s feedback.

Do that and your marketing is almost always out of alignment with your actual customer.

Right out of the factory

The other place it happens is the “I built it because I can” attitude of inventors. When you do that, you have no idea who the customer even is, so you’re off to a bad start. Sometimes you can get lucky and find the product has a real need, but we hear so many of those stories because of survivorship bias, not because it’s a good strategy.

The Offer

Offers need to be in tune with the market and the product, that’s why they can be hard to pull off. Where they fail most often is when the seller is thinking of themselves, not the buyer.

Offering DIY courses when the buyer wants it done for them. Offering subscriptions to things the buyer only expects to pay once for. Pitching at the wrong levels of market sophistication and awareness because the seller isn’t deep enough in the market to know the difference.

The list is a long one.

What’s sure though, is that if you don’t start in the right market, you have no hope of lining the other elements up for a win.