Marketing is a moving machine. It’s easy to get snagged in the gears and not get the goodies. With a New Year, you can get ahead of the marketing monster with these three approaches:

1. Wrap your message in the customer’s culture

Your marketing team is almost never living the same life as the target market. That means it doesn’t have the same gut-level frame of reference.

You tend to assume people like or relate to the same things you do, but if you started a company or work for a growth-stage enterprise, I gotta break it to ya: you’re sort of different. When you are not your target market, projecting too much of yourself instead of them deadens your message.

There is a simple two-fold fix to unwrap this trap.

  • Spend time with your target market in their daily environment. Go to where they are. Take in their business reality. Eat their lunch. You might be surprised at the insights that physical, and not a digital, relationships with prospects will give you. You should still show them how you’re different and be your authentic self, but do it in the words, phrases, and actions your target market finds consistent with their world, not necessarily your world.
  • Market with case studies. The beauty of the case study is that if you do it well, you can’t help but showcase your customer’s perspectives, ways of speaking and points of view. For details, here’s a guide I wrote about writing case studies.

2. Prioritize brains over budget

See if you’ve put too much budget in the place of brains. For example, configuring 100 keywords for Google advertising in order to send more traffic to a site that has qualified organic traffic, but poor conversion. Oops. Sending more traffic to a stale site that won’t convert it is a classic waste of cash.

This year, free your creativity to create conversion, then pour Adwords dollars into a working funnel.

3. Don’t give in to decision decay

One of the fast-growth software startups I’m working with has two goals: deeper penetration into existing clients and net new clients. The whole team is excited about achieving this together. In execution though, there’s a stumble. Is it marketing or is it sales that is really responsible for cross-selling existing clients and net new clients? This is decision decay. Not making precise decisions deadens marketing and sales effectiveness.

The antidote is to answer the unasked questions. Clarify that, “Marketing: you are responsible for generating cross-product leads from existing clients at a rate of 20 per week. Sales: you are responsible for closing a minimum of 50% of that input and I sent you a suggested bonus structure over that. Discuss and let us know how we can help next week in the management team meeting.” Now, there will be more questions! But they will be questions about how to get there and how to remove roadblocks. Those are fun questions to have.

Get real marketing success in 2016

Marc Andreesen’s recent tweet really summed it up “My goal is not to fail fast. My goal is to succeed over the long run. They are not the same thing.”

By focusing on engaging the actual culture of your target market, testing your message conversion as you grow, and creating clear internal accountability, you can speed how fast your marketing program goes from stumbles to successes.

Let us know if you’d like some help on the way–Write2Market was made for that.

A version of this article was published first in my column on Inc.com.