Why You Can't Scale  | Fusion Marketing

Why You Can't Scale | Fusion Marketing

If you started your business within 3-6 mo before the world was rocked with a pandemic, you've probably been lucky enough to ride the high of this ecom-boom that covid produced. It's been great to talk to folks that (due to the pandemic) lost their "real job" only to transition into selling something they love online and see them thrive! As a life-long entrepreneur it really makes me smile to have these chats where folks can now rely on themselves to feed their families instead of making someone else rich. 

Businesses that started in this time frame have also been around for some really rough times and - depending on your strategy and outlook - it could be getting worse. Why? In part because the pandemic-wave is slowing and these business owners need to see that or they will only be jumping from one "solution" to another until they are left high and dry. 

Let's break it down into a bit of a timeline:

Dec 2019 Through Feb 2020:

Business as usual for existing businesses that are crushing it for BFCM and doing their best to squeeze out as much as possible before it dips a bit....or so they thought. 

March 2020 - June 2020:

Enter, Covid. Thousands of people got sent home and were told to wait to "flatten the curve" (I'll save you from the political leanings on this topic and stick to ecom, you're welcome) where thousands of people turned to Shopify, Facebook and Drop Shipping and said "Let's be Business Owners!" Well, turns out that there were a lot of amazing people starting up just that and I hope they are still cruising or they cashed out already! The tricky thing here is, the instant success has created a LOT of inflated egos and really raised the bar as far as expectations of marketing. 

July - September 2020:

Thousands of marketing pro's begin the process of saying "iOS" 100x per day to themselves, their co-workers and their clients. The rumblings have become solidified and we knew then that the way we market was to substantially change. While millions of agencies and freelancers spent time complaining and searching for loopholes, others saw the writing on the wall and pivoted their clients to leverage platforms towards continued growth. The rollout of the iOS14.5 update didn’t hit too hard the rest of the year as Apple ran some smaller updates and beta tests but as the summer came to a close, Q4 became everyone’s main focus again. 

November 2020 - Feb 2021: 

Like the rest of the hard working firms, agencies and freelancers alike; this time of the year is when we put all our learnings to work and continue to prove our worth to both ourselves and our amazing clients. Cultivating the right audiences, learning how they think and shop and then delivering the right product and offer at the right time to culminate in a few insanely busy and profitable weeks is that amazing marketing crescendo we all so eagerly thrive on. For many marketers, early January is when they “ease off the gas pedal” to come up for air and regroup. Other folks (ahem…) have pre-planned this time to truly solidify the new winter customers into long term customers. Having proper customer service flows and support in this window of time is pivotal to turning the holiday shopper into a lifelong brand lover. It’s also a great time to say thank you to the loyal customers and check in with them to see how their holidays were!

March 2021 - April 2021:

It finally happened. iOS14.5 went live and to the public in early April 2021. I’ll be honest, I was waiting for a delay or a flop of an update. That’s just proof that even I’m human and was wrong that one time (just once right?). So, leading into the scheduled release date it was truly go time and to initiate the new ‘cookieless’ strategies that would put our clients ahead of the game come “doomsday”.

Advertising platforms like Facebook and Instagram (now called Meta) have been and will always be amazing audience levers to pull. But with the incoming inability to track on a molecular level; it was important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and just write them off. 

Sidenote to all my FB nerds out there, remember the feeling of setting up an add to cart retargeting campaign where folks with a frequency of 2+ added over $100 to their cart and we were able to truly know our audience?! Man, those were the days! But…I digress…

May 2021 - Sept 2021:

Those who did not prepare, started to fall off the map. Companies were calling you back to the office; the results just weren’t there anymore and many people felt the call back to “normality”. For the folks that had a bit more time or money at hand…they spent time time frame jumping around from one attribution software to the next and blaming multiple failures on the freelancer/agency of the month. At the end of this time period; they too either died off or they got smart and figure out what many other - still thriving- clients have figured out. Gone are the days of a single-platform-success ecom shop. Yep, the game just got even more serious and even more expensive if you want to play along. Now, if you wanted to go into Q4 again and thrive; you needed a full blown omni-channel marketing strategy and a team to handle it with you. 

Note I said “with you” and not ‘for you’ because any business owner who just throws a business at us is just asking to fail because they are not engaged enough and the level of caring needs to be equal across the board. 

Nov 2021 - Feb 2022:

Nose to the grindstone again for all ecom shop owners and marketing pros alike and anyone who did it right this year should have seen record high revenues (at least in the USA). These successes are in part thanks to the free money train that the US Gov’t was driving up and down the streets. I can’t tell you how many posts on our ads I saw that said things like “Thanks for the [insert product type] and thanks to the President for spending money!” as well as hundreds of stock and crypto posts of folks asking “Where should I invest this next check guys?!”

With one of our clients, we actually (much to my initial chagrin) scaled back heavily at this point. There were multiple factors at play here but it turned out to be a very good long term strategy. You see, we reduced our cold traffic outreach and focused internally to our existing customers. That made our LTV and AOV improve as well as reduce the new customers who could have been spending on borrowed cash that would only make them a single purchase customer. 

March - June 2022:

The cream rises to the top; only to be deflated. Well, sorta. At this point; any business who began this journey has surely thought a few things:

  • Whew I made it!
  • I am fvcking awesome, bow to me!

While a few of the smarter ones were thinking more along the lines of:

  • People are staying home, not working & spending….that’s not right.
  • This has to peak sometime, right?

Well, this is when the egotistical business owners who think they are on a glass elevator to the top are about to get their dreams shattered. Because at the end of the day, any business who started 24-36 mo ago is still a new business and has yet to be truly challenged in their resolve. Whether we have a legit recession happening while this is being typed or not it’s pretty clear that there will be no more free-money checks, people are not shopping as much and all the commodities (food, gas, etc) are getting more expensive. This has a direct impact on the individual's shopping habits. Needs become more clear and wants continue to be wants

Now, to those still listening; that’s just an opportunity in disguise. How do you make something as simple and truly-not-needed like a tee shirt feel needed? Well, you hire the right marketing team! 

The truth of it all is that the rest of this year (and maybe next year too) is going to be a harsh reality check for every business owner and if they don’t have their ego in check and long term goals in place - it’s going to get ugly for them. That right there is why businesses can not scale right now.

If you've liked what you've read or said "Shoot, that's totally me!" then let's find a time to talk a bit more on how your business can make some solid steps forward!

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