Avoiding Marketing Waste

by Ralph Hilsdon, Web-Clubs

Posted on 7 June 2018

About one hundred years ago, Lord Leverhulme the founder of Lever Brothers reputedly said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

The Importance of Strategy

Then as now, choosing the right advertising strategy was a challenge, now arguably more so, as the choice of marketing tools has greatly expanded into the digital world. What has changed in favour of the marketer since Lord Leverhulme’s time is measurement, whereas he may have waited weeks to see a change in sales results, with digital marketing we can know how well a campaign is working in just hours. In other areas though, little has changed, there are some basic principles of marketing that if followed will improve the effectiveness of a campaign and importantly reduce the wasted effort and cost. All too often, advertising is ordered as a knee jerk reaction to a dip in business without a strategy and without a plan. The result being an ineffective campaign and wasted costs.

The crucial advice is to plan before you spend, the better you understand your business, your market and your competitors the better. The better the brief you can give to a marketing agency, the more effective and less wasteful your campaign will be!

Tips on Avoiding Marketing Waste

Here are some basic points to work on before and when choosing your marketing tools and partners.

Message and Mission

Think about what your message is to the market, what do you stand for, what do you want to do! In marketing speak this is called a “Mission Statement.”
Do a SWOT Analysis. Think about your Strengths and Weaknesses, where are the Opportunities and what Threats do you need to be aware of, this will help in deciding what sort of marketing you need to do. What arguments may be needed, what you need to learn and what you can possibly forget.

Why You

What makes you different, the reason people buy from you rather than a competitor. In other words you unique Selling Point (USP).


What do you want to achieve? In other words, your Marketing Objectives. It needs to be clear before you start spending money. Examples include; supporting the launch of a new product, a campaign to increase sales, to support moving into a new geographic area or to raise awareness of your business generally (brand building).


Your Brand, Product and Service strategy should all be clearly defined, complex messages are very difficult to communicate. Do they fit the market they are aimed at, are they competitive and is pricing in place. Spend some time looking at what you do. Big brands like to productise everything, even services, you can learn from them. Don’t be afraid to shed uncompetitive products so you can focus on your strengths


Make sure you can deliver what you promote, so called Resource Planning. Avoid promoting services you cannot deliver, promotion should boost areas where capacity is underutilised.


Do you know who is buying your product, and importantly who should be buying it, but isn’t. To avoid waste, marketing budgets should be directed at the right target markets, so it is really crucial to get this right.

Even the best marketers such as Lord Leverhulme couldn’t achieve a 100% return, ignore marketers that promise it. The key tools to avoiding marketing waste are careful planning, thorough monitoring and flexibility to change strategy quickly.

avoiding marketing waste