The hurricane has done its work, and hopefully you’ve made it through unscathed – just in time to realize that November is beginning, and that your business’s financials may not be quite where you want them to be.

The first part of this question: is your marketing working hard enough for you? We are sticklers about this. If any one of your marketing dollars isn’t pulling its full weight, we recommend that you reinvest it so it does.

“Hah!” some of you might say. “We have been advertising for years. Our business is growing, or at least not declining. Our marketing must be working.”

We’re marketers, and we strongly believe in the results marketing and advertising can deliver. We measure it carefully, so we see the proof every day. However, cutting advertising and marketing programs is something we frequently recommend to new clients.

Typically, when we walk in, we assess the money invested in marketing, and recommend cutting about 90% of it. Last week, we recommended cutting 95%. That’s the cost of the waiting to assess your investment: up to 95% of what you spend on marketing. That can add up to a significant number of wasted dollars, all of which could be contributing instead to your bottom line.

Before you call us, there are three quick checks you can perform.

  1. Check alignment. Check for close alignment with your defined ideal customer, target audience, or target customer segment. If you have bought mass advertising (think LivingSocial or Groupon, and yes, even targeted Google AdWords), these are almost never aligned with your ideal customer. That’s right, we said it.
  2. Measure it. Try to pin a number on how many customers this particular piece of advertising has driven in your doors. This doesn’t need to be perfect; even a good estimate will start to help you decide whether or not this is a good use of your money.
  3. Be critical. Look closely – is your company really able to execute this to its full potential? If you can’t (as we saw in one business, where the company chose to spend all of its investment on expensive ad space, and then asked its entry-level marketer to design the ad – well, “epic fail” really are the two best words to describe the confusing jumble of fonts, colors and images), don’t do it. Invest your funds in something you know you can make work.

These also work when you get called by an advertiser with a “great deal – but you have to buy now.” If that advertiser can’t explain precisely how it will add to your bottom line, in terms of dollars and cents, just say no.

Planning Changes The Game

The second part of the question: what is the cost of not planning? There is a reason why you see professional football teams run out on the field with a team of planners and evaluators, also known as the coaching staff. Planning works. Next year at this time, you could either be wondering why your financials aren’t where you want them to be, or you could be planning what to do with the extra dollars generated by marketing that works hard for you.

To talk more about calculating the return on investment of your advertising and marketing investment, email us at growth (at) or call 571-431-6907.

November 1, 2012