In 1978, marine biologists from Mexico and the USA joined forces to try to save the rapidly declining turtle population. They incubated turtle eggs and raised the hatchlings for 10 months. They then tried to imprint them with their current location, tagged them and then released them into the wild. If the imprinting succeeded then the baby turtles would behave like ones born in the wild. They would return some point later to form nests at their birthplace, to breed, to lay eggs in the sand and to start the cycle anew.
No turtles returned in 1979 so they tagged and released some more turtles. In 1980 there will still no new turtles or nests, so they released yet more turtles. By 1988 they had released more than 22,000 turtles into the wild. None had returned. They experiment was stopped, and the attempt to replenish the turtle population had clearly failed.
Then, in April 1996, a turtle nest appeared on the Texas coast. Five more were laid between 26th May and 5th June. New nests have been discovered since. Almost 20 years after the start of the experiment it had started to show results. It turns out that turtles don’t return to their birthplaces until after some 20 years, often having travelled thousands of miles.
You often find the same thing in marketing. You release your baby marketing turtles into the wild and wait for them to return. Nothing happens, so you release some more. Still nothing happens so you release yet more. Eventually, you think you’ve failed. Then after more time than you could possibly have anticipated, your marketing turtles return to nest.
Marketing is about sustained, hard work. If you run print ads, you need to run them over months. If you do local marketing, you’ll need to advertise in multiple places for a long time. It’s not about spending all your market budget in one big print full-spread or in a single superbowl advert.
So, release your marketing turtles again, again and again and be patient.