There’s a well known saying for experienced writers, “Kill your darlings”. William Faulkner said it first, though Stephen King may have said it best, “‘Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

So what does it mean? For writers, it’s about getting rid of the parts you love most in your novel because they’re actually holding the story back. No matter how much it hurts, you have to overcome that personal pain for the greater good of the novel.

It’s an idea that can be easily used in other industries, including marketing. The marketing campaign you love may actually be holding your business back. The sooner you realize that the sooner you can stop throwing good money after bad and kill the campaign.

How do you tell if your campaign has failed?

There are a number of ways to tell if your marketing campaign has failed.

1. No one’s engaged on social media. What that means is no one is getting involved in what you’re posting. For instance, you have thousands of followers on your Facebook page, but only two or three of them have liked, shared or commented on your posts.

2. You’re getting leads, just not the right ones. It’s possible you’re getting plenty of responses, just not the ones that are good for growing your business. You want to be sure that your campaign isn’t just hitting a target, but the correct one.

3. You’re spending too much time or money on your campaign. This one’s a little arbitrary, but if you have an entire team working on a promotion and it’s only generating a small number of sales, then it’s probably a sign that it’s not working.

4. There is no direction. A good marketing campaign doesn’t just have an idea, but a series of steps to get you to your ultimate goal. A campaign that is poorly planned out is one that is doomed to fail.

What’s next?

A failed campaign is nothing to be ashamed of. While the word marketing is a pretty simple one, the concepts behind it are amazingly complex. There is no shame in admitting you have failed. It’s moving forward that you have to focus on next.

1. Kill the campaign. First and foremost, if the campaign has failed you need to end it. There’s no reason to spend more money or time on something that’s not working.

2. Learn from your mistakes. The campaign may have failed, but it doesn’t mean it was a complete loss. Take the time to evaluate what went wrong. Check with your core customers to see what they liked and didn’t like about the campaign. Figure out what you need to do next time to make things better.

3. Move forward. This can be done multiple ways. If you’re a marketing pro, then come up with a new plan and get to work! If you’re lost in the world of marketing, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Marketing is a tough business and not everyone is successful at it. Entrepreneurs aren’t always marketers and marketers aren’t always entrepreneurs. There’s a reason there are pros out there and people who use them. Don’t be afraid to use one yourself.

Written By Erika Towne