5 Things You Say That Prove You’re Wasting Your Marketing Budget

Marketing is supposed to bring in money, not waste it.
But all too often, marketing budgets are blown because we market to ourselves, justifying our poor or uninspired decisions with clichéd excuses that give us a buffer between our choices and accountability.
When asked about your marketing plan, if you find yourself falling back on age-old excuses, you’re wasting your money – and you know it. Or if someone else is giving you the old song-and-dance, don’t let them off the hook so easily. Let’s work together to be a little better and make our colleagues and our target audiences recognize the value in marketing and communications.
Here are the top 5 things you’re probably saying right now that prove you’re wasting your marketing budget:

#5: “Let’s get going on the design/programming. We’ll worry about the content later.”

I get it. Design is fun and sexy. Programming is super-nerdy-cool. Both of them make you feel like you’re creating something tangible – they bring a concept to life before your eyes. But what good is a super shiny new toy if it doesn’t work?
No good. No good at all. (Just ask any parent who has forgotten to buy batteries for super-shiny-new-toy on Christmas morning. Horrible.)
Strong content is battery power. Without it, your website/brochure/social network will seem super and shiny for about 5 seconds … before it gets tucked away with all the other super and shiny – and boring – marketing out there.
Don’t be the parent who forgets the batteries on Christmas morning. Give your audiences a reason to stay and play. Stock up on strong content first, and give your marketing the power to shine.

#4: “We just need to be on [social media platform].”

You see your competitors on Facebook, or Pinterest, or LinkedIn, or Twitter. And you get nervous. You need to be on there, too. Today.
So you tell your marketing team to create one of those Twitter pages for the company and put some stuff up there. And you feel a sense of accomplishment. When someone asks if you’re on social media, you can now proudly say: “Oh yes. We tweet and stuff.”
Hold up. Did you know that there are 271 million monthly active users on that Twitter thing? And that 500 million tweets are sent per day? Add that to the 1.3 billion monthly active Facebook users and the fact that Americans spend more time on social media than any other major Internet activity, including email, and you’ve got yourself a pretty cluttered Internet.
What does this all mean? Simply having a presence on a social platform is meaningless. Your social media activity – and the energy you put into it – is only meaningful if it is somehow driving or positively impacting business.
Before you “just need to be on” that social media platform, you need to justify why. How does it fit into your overarching content marketing strategy? What results do you expect from your involvement? If you don’t have these answers, please, stay away from the Twitter.
5 Thing You Say That Prove You're Wasting Your Marketing Budget

3. “Social media isn’t really measurable anyway.”

Social media is not a mysterious, intangible, mythical entity that can’t be measured. (That, my friends, is the Loch Ness Monster.) It’s a real tool with real ways to measure success.
Social media only seems like a Loch Ness Monster when you don’t have the metrics in place to measure. That’s why it’s so important to know what you want to achieve with social media before diving in (see #2). So, what do you want social media to do for you?

  • Increase brand awareness and engagement?
  • Generate and nurture leads?
  • Retain customers?
  • Engage influencers?
  • Establish expertise?
  • Grow your business?

All of these things are measurable. And all of these things can be tracked through social media.

2. “Everybody else is doing it.”

Remember in middle school when you had to watch those PSA-style videos about peer pressure? What was the first thing Mr. Bully always said while holding out a cigarette to little Johnny?
“C’mon kid, everybody else is doing it. It’s the cool thing to do. Don’t you wanna be cool, kid?”
Spoiler alert: It wasn’t the cool thing to do. And it still isn’t. 
Arguing that “all of our competitors market this way, so we have to, too” is another way of giving in to lousy, uninspired and frankly lazy marketing peer pressure.
I recently talked to a client about an annual print piece that they send out to thousands of prospects. It’s extremely costly. And they have no idea if it gets them any business. When I asked them why they’re still doing it, they said: “Because everyone else does it. If we don’t, we’ll be the only ones who aren’t on the table.”
But if the prospects are ignoring everyone’s print piece, why should you be adding to their recycling bins (and spending a boatload of bucks to do so)?
It goes back to striving to be the best in your industry. Be a leader. Produce the best content. And follow your gut. If you know something isn’t working, change it. And that brings us to…

1. “We’ve always done it this way.”

The #1 offender of marketing budgets everywhere.
The “we’ve-always-done-it-this-way” fallback is the “because-I-said-so” of the business world. And you know what my kids say when I say, “because I said so”?
“But, WHYYYYY Mama????”
And regardless of how annoying that is, they’re right.
“Because” is not an answer. “We’ve always done it this way” is not an answer. Status quo is not an answer. 
Think about all of the great marketing or advertising campaigns that have made news in the past year, from Oreo’s Dunk In the Dark to Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches and many, many others. They weren’t applauded because they gave us something we were all familiar and comfortable with. They broke tradition. They stood out in a time when it’s nearly impossible to stand out. And it’s because they didn’t stick to the way it’s always been done.
Don’t be an “always been done”. Be a “never been done”. Put that marketing budget to good use, and prove that smart communications are worth the investment.
What are your favorite marketing excuses? Add them to the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter or Google+.


Tell us what you think, or ask us any questions. We’re here to help!

  • I also get irked by “We just don’t have the resources.” That may be true, but before you say it, let’s take a look and see if the resources you’re using to execute ineffective marketing can be reallocated.

    Becky - August 26, 2014 at 10:09 pm
  • Great one! Those resources are usually connected to “we’ve-always-done-it-this-way” marketing 🙂

    Emily Cretella - August 28, 2014 at 9:33 pm

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