Messy Marketing Is Ineffective Marketing

August 29, 2020

By Mariana

Messy marketing leads to messy results and wasted money

Many business owners invest time and money in marketing without a clear understanding of the “why” behind what they’re doing.

The result is a mess which I have dubbed marketing modge podge.

Good intentions, gone bad

WordPress, Squarespace, Google Analytics, email marketing, and social selling. Oh, my!

Although these are now commonplace in business, they were far from typical 20 years ago. 

This infographic from Simplilearn provides a visual walk down digital memory lane.

Twenty years, may or may not, sound like a long time ago, but the digital landscape has been steadily shifting and evolving under our feet. 

New solutions, services, and technologies have emerged at a breakneck speed. 

Each new digital opportunity has also created new challenges. 

How are you supposed to find your footing, let alone balance?

We have all been scrambling to keep up.

So, it shouldn’t be surprising that things have gotten a little messy. 

Modge Podge Defined

There are a few variations of the term. Some people say hodgepodge or hodge podge, but my favorite is the lesser-known modge podge.

According to Urban Dictionary, modge podge is:

a word used to describe a confused or disorderly mass or collection of things; a “mess” or a “jumble.”

Modge podge is precisely what I find when I look at the digital presence of businesses, from BIG companies to creative entrepreneurs. 

A website is often at the center, and over time other digital marketing pieces have been haphazardly slapped on.

How marketing modge podge happens to good people

To be clear, marketing modge podge isn’t exclusively a small business or a big business problem. It can happen to anybody, even savvy SaaS companies.

New digital marketing options come fast and furious, and in the rush to keep up, new pieces are tacked on without a strategy or plan.

Ofen, it is not a reflection of how they do business or the value provided either. This is the dangerous part though because people do judge and you want to put your best marketing foot forward.

The three main causes of marketing modge podge

When examining costly ineffective marketing, I’ve found similar causes across different industries, company sizes, and digital maturity

1. Shiny Object Syndrome

Shiny objects are distracting

Digital marketing is notorious for the constant stream of shiny new features, and options.

It seems like there is something new glittering in front of us daily.

The problem is that we have a tendency to let these “shiny objects” leech away our focus.

Shiny object syndrome occurs when we get distracted by the latest “shiny object,” and start thinking we have to have it or use it. 

For example, Instagram isn’t anything new, but they’re constantly evolving and adding features to remain relevant. However, if Instagram isn’t part of your marketing strategy you should ignore these rollouts.

Even if Instagram is part of your strategy, if you let yourself get distracted by everything they offer or the latest Instagram announcement, you’re never going to get anything done.

Without shiny object blinders on, we can fall prey to the second cause, FOMO.

2. FOMO – Fear of Missing Out

Every time a new shiny digital option comes on the scene, there is a tsunami of pressure to get on board.

Everywhere you go there will be a chorus of voices, singing the praises of the latest and greatest.

Am I implying that you should keep on keeping on as you always have, and not adopt innovative technologies or strategies in your business?


However, the deciding factor for business decisions should never be fear.

“Everybody else is doing it,” or “Company X attributes a surge in growth to [insert fancy new digital option here],” also do not qualify as valid reasons to throw money at the latest digital shiny object.

Marketing modge podge results from adding marketing pieces without considering the existing marketing puzzle or business goals.

Fear may motivate you to consider a new option, but the final decision must be rooted in your business and your clients.

3. Floating Strategies

When you slap marketing pieces together, it results in a lack of cooperation between the parts. 

Floating strategies happen when multiple digital strategies are slapped together and exist without unity.

They should be working together, driving toward your business goals.

Think of them as single train cars sitting along the tracks. They need to link together with an engine to drive them forward and a caboose to keep them in line.

Although having strategy is essential to success, strategies are all the rage lately. You may have one for your social media, one for your content and one for your email marketing and one for…

You get the idea.

They can each be solid strategies, but if they aren’t connected, they float around. 

The individual strategies may be working hard, but aren’t working together.

Imagine how effective they would be if linked and focused on growing your business.

Unite your strategies to get them working together.

For example, if you create a customer-centric blog post it provides content for a few of your social media messages. These messages speak to your target audience who then clicks the link in your profile. Now you have a new visitor to your website who reads about how you can help them. They contact you, and you now have a new potential customer.

Also, don’t forget your business growth strategy.

In order for your marketing to make you money you need a solid business strategy to direct your marketing.

This is often the missing ingredient.

It’s crucial because without it, how will you know when things are working or whether they’re a good fit?

Your business strategy should:

  • bind marketing strategies to business goals like revenue
  • guide digital efforts
  • reduces the cost of experimenting on the fly
  • attract and retain best-fit clients
  • fuel the growth of your business

How to prevent marketing modge podge

Time to call in the marketing cleaning crew. 

Before you can prevent marketing modge podge you need to be honest about the current state of your online presence.

Take an honest look at your online marketing and figure out:

What’s working? 

What isn’t? 

What should go? 

What should stay? 

What’s missing?

If you’re left wondering, where do I start? 

Start with one piece.

Take your website for example, and get your hands dirty examining it. 

Dig in by answering these questions:

  • How much time is required to use it effectively and consistently? 
  • Can you commit to the time it requires?
  • What are the ongoing costs?
  • Does it attract, sell or support your ideal customers?
  • Will it contribute to the growth of your business?
  • Is it a good fit for your digital strategy?


Now you’re left with the best pieces. Put them together.

Moving forward, keep track of what works for both your company and your customer, what isn’t necessary, what’s missing, and what can be improved. 

Run any new marketing pieces through the questions above before adding them to the mix.

Viola, no mess.

Good-bye marketing modge podge.

Keep in mind that marketing is like your kitchen pantry, just because you tidied it six months ago doesn’t mean it doesn’t have expired items in it now that should be tossed.

Examine your marketing pieces and big picture regularly and consider making it part of your annual business review.

May your marketing stay fresh, and your returns be positive. 

Keep going.

Keep growing.

Hi, I'm Mariana.

Hi, I'm Mariana.

As you've probably guessed already, I'm the heart and brains behind The Purposeful Entrepreneur.

Supporting entrepreneurs and business owners while teaching and sharing lessons learned brings me joy.

I love family time and do what I can to make the world a better place.

I'm very fond of coffee and puns. I strive to live life to its fullest, grow a little bit every single day, and inspire others along the way.

Let's explore how I can help you.

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