Warning! - Don’t spend another penny on

marketing until you read this.


Most marketing loses money. And that’s a fact.

I’d even go as far as describing marketing as the most popular form of gambling in this country. More money is bet on marketing than on the horses or the national lottery.

And, like all forms of gambling, there are far more losers than winners.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are two things you can do with your marketing that can transform yourself from a gambler back into a businessman.

Put an end to "back-to-front" marketing

There are three questions you should ask yourself whenever you are putting together a marketing campaign. And you need to ask them in the correct order.

Before I tell you what the questions are, I want to explain something to you about marketing. It’s the most fundamental key to all marketing, yet nobody talks about it. However, without this understanding, your marketing is going to be in trouble.

It’s really simple – there are three parts to any marketing activity.

There’s the message. There is the market. There is the medium. Or, to put it in simple English, - it’s what you’re offering, who you’re offering it to and what type of marketing you use to make the offer to these people.       

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

And the three questions you should be asking yourself are:

The message – why should someone do business with me, above any and all other options, including doing nothing at all?

The market – who should buy from me? Who is able to benefit from the advantage(s) I bring to the market and would be willing and able to pay the price to get the benefit my product delivers?

The medium - which form(s) of marketing can I use to effectively and profitably deliver this message to this market?

The big mistake so many businesses make (particularly those without their own in-house marketing expert) is that they start with a medium (e.g. newspaper advertising, yellow pages, web site, radio advertising, PR etc.) and then try to fit a message and market to that medium.

The result? The message usually ends up getting lost or being wasted on the wrong audience.

If you want to give your marketing a fighting chance, start with the message. If you get the message right, it should lead you to the right market which will help you decide which marketing method(s) you should be using to capture the attention of your target prospects.

And the second key is?

When you lose, lose small. When you win, win big.

My first job in marketing (in 1994) was in the marketing department of one of the largest companies in Britain.

Having never been trained (or should that be indoctrinated) in marketing at the time, I saw two things that amazed me:

#1: The company was going to spend a five figure sum on ads that had never been tested. In fact, as far as I could tell, they had never been shown to a single member of the public.

#2: They had no way of measuring the response. So, after spending this large sum of money, they had no way of knowing whether they should spend more money on running the ads again. And they had no idea which ads in which publications returned a profit.

It was just like the famous quote: I know half my advertising is wasted, I just don't know which half”.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

As long ago as 1923, the advertising legend Claude Hopkins wrote: “in the old days, advertisers ventured on their own opinion. The few guessed right, the many wrong. Those were the times of advertising disasters”.

These advertising disasters Hopkins wrote of are still happening today. They’re happening every day that businesses spend money they can’t afford to lose on untested ads and approaches. They continue to run ads that return a loss and they have no reliable idea what’s working profitably and can be rolled out on a bigger scale.

Hopkins also wrote “almost any question can be answered, cheaply quickly and finally, by a test campaign.” And this is the key. No new marketing campaign is a “sure thing”. However, by using conservative and inexpensive tests, you can minimise the cost of your unsuccessful ideas and maximise the returns from your good ideas.

I hope this report has shown you the importance of these two factors and that you use them in all your future marketing.

And, if you decide to hire someone to help you with your marketing, make sure that:

(1)They start by finding out what message you should be delivering to your market, before they start telling you what type of marketing you should spend your money on.

(2)They don’t try to gamble your money on untested approaches but, instead, find out what works before you invest a lot of time, effort and money.

(3)They have ways where you can measure the response to their marketing plans. Don’t allow yourself to be fobbed off with excuses or vague notions of “brand building”.

Also, remember that this is the 21st century. If you pay for something, you should expect to get what you paid for.

Personally, I don’t believe that anyone should get paid for just turning up. I think that they should have to earn their money by adding value.

After all, you’re not really paying for marketing, you’re paying for results. And, if a marketing or advertising consultant isn’t willing to guarantee results, what does that say about his belief in his own ability?

This doesn’t mean that you should never use a marketer who doesn’t offer a guarantee, just that, if he doesn’t guarantee his work, it’s worth making sure there’s a good reason why not.

Best wishes

Steve Gibson


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Steve Gibson Consulting, Edinburgh 2006

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