The First Step to Better Marketing Is Less Marketing
Peter Panda

The dog-eat-dog world we live in dictates that those who work the most likely win. Agencies and brands pay lip service to work-life balance, then take advantage of an employee’s dedication and drive for more, higher, bigger.

As a result, you walk into work on Monday with 28 hours of meetings ahead of you in the week, leaving a mere 12 to get the actual work done in the lawful allotment of time allowed.

It’s not different with your actual marketing activations, either. You’ve got social content, social advertising, blog content, email marketing, CRM activities and customer support functions, and then you’ve got to measure it all. And that’s just the digital portion of the day-to-day. That doesn’t account for PR, above-the-line advertising or — god forbid — any special campaigns or programs you need to run.

Oh, and you do all that with 2-3 full-time people and an agency partner we abuse for a pittance.

My personal journey has taken me down a path of studying meditation and self-care. As I’ve begun to reclaim some sanity in the busyness of life, I realized we could all use the same philosophies in our marketing. We’re doing too much with too little, and the result is everything suffers.

The solution? Stop it.

Make a list of the 10, 12, 15 or 50 projects you’ve got going on right now in your marketing efforts. Take some time to calculate what money you’re putting into them and, if you can, what return you’re getting out of them.

To be really effective in this exercise, compare apples to apples. Make sure you know your spend and reach for each project, the purchase conversion rate (the percentage of people you reach who actually buy) and your average order value. That way, you can see which programs are most effective by quality and quantity.

Perhaps your chart looks something like this:

SampleBudget

Now organize your chart so it is in proper priority order for you, from the most important program to the least — or most effective to least, etc. I tend to rank based on purchase rate, so I’m opting for most efficient. But you should also consider each one based on revenue and other factors.

Once you have them ranked, draw a line between the last one and the rest. And tomorrow, cut that program. Reinvest those dollars in either the top one or on an effort that is efficient but could use more spend.  For more complex organizations with dozens of programs, draw your line above the bottom 2-3 percent.

If you do this every 3-4 months, in a year’s time your marketing spend will be more efficient and effective and you’ll get rid of unnecessary extra work. You’ll focus more time and money on programs that drive success and stop adding work to your already busy efforts.

As a disclaimer, cutting programs willy-nilly based on what some guy wrote on a blog isn’t wise. Carefully consider the idea here. Carefully consider what you might cut vs. what you may need to keep. For example, you don’t want to cut a PPC effort that has a dismal in conversion rate but drives 30% of your revenue. Be smart about it, but don’t make the worst mistake of all: doing nothing.

It’s your turn. What holes can you shoot in this plan? Have you tried something to be more efficient with your efforts? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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