Remove sales and marketing waste from a good product, and like magic, there’s extra cash. What you do with this newfound wealth is up to you. You can share it with your customers in the form of lower prices, you can return it to shareholders as profit, and you can reinvest it to fund future growth. Or you can commission an oil painting of yourself, maybe with a falcon – a power move

Cutting waste out of the sales and marketing spend is a no-brainer, right? But how do you eliminate the bad spend and keep the good? Admittedly, this post will not answer all your questions in this regard. My intention is to challenge some commonly held beliefs because I believe that the seeds of waste, are planted in flawed thinking.

The following list is in no particular order and is not an exhaustive list.


Fallacy #1: It is Easier Than Ever to Reach Customers.

Assuming your customers are human beings, the above statement is categorically false. Yes, it is easier to display information in front of eyeballs, but that is quite different from reaching someone. To “reach” someone, you must somehow capture their attention, and almost immediately make them feel an emotion.

We live in a world of too much information, and not enough attention. A 2017 article from The American Marketing Association states that consumers are exposed to up 10,000 brand messages a day. And as marketers are presented with more and more channels to reach their customers, that number is growing rapidly

It’s a noisy world. Companies must understand that cutting through that noise is more difficult than ever. And for companies trying to shout their message above the noise, it is costlier than ever.


Fallacy # 2 : You Just Need to be Doing This!

There has never been more sales and marketing tactics, tools and channels available to companies, and there has never been more experts professing what you “need to be doing!”. The next time you hear this advice, ask yourself 3 simple questions:

  1. Does this person have an in-depth understanding of my business, my industry, and my markets?
  2. Does this person have a neutral opinion? Or does this advice come with a conflict of interest?
  3. Is this person a subject-matter expert?

The world of sales and marketing has become fragmented, highly specialized and extremely competitive. The market is flooded with specialists who have an interest in claiming as much of your budget as possible. Often these specialists have a disproportionate impact on an organization’s overall strategy. The tail (the specialist) wags the dog (your organization), and waste develops.


Fallacy # 3: Creative Will Save the Day

It is undeniable that great creative work can elevate a product or service and positively influence sales. But great creative in isolation is rarely enough. Right brain creative thinking can be fun, and it’s easy to get swept up in the notion that the next insight might just be the one to propel your company forward. But this thinking is dangerous.

In all successful creative campaigns, the creative is a natural extension of many other, less visible, decisions in which the company invested the time and resources to get right. Like an iceberg, the creative tip that we see is supported by a much larger mass just beneath the surface, a mass built on research and testing. Growth isn’t unleashed through a mysterious creative journey, it’s engineered through sometimes-boring repetitive testing.


Fallacy # 4:Even Though We Can’t Pinpoint Results, It Was Great Branding!

Few marketing terms are misused more often than “branding”. What branding actually describes is the process through which companies create and shape consumers’ ideas about what a company stands for, thus allowing these consumers to quickly identify and select the company’s products and or services.

Branding doesn’t mean that a lack of results can be justified by the idea that “someday” we’ll get those sales. Branding also doesn’t mean that we have an excuse to pursue initiatives where results will be unmeasurable. Branding should not be the hiding place of accountability.


Fallacy # 5: You Just Need to Unlock the Power of Social Media

Okay, I’m kind of worried to even write this one – lest I be struck down by a bolt of lightning. Social media has been a game changer in business and society at large. This is undeniable. That does not mean it is inexpensive. It does not mean it is universally effective. And it does not mean companies must invest in social channels. Blasphemy? I know!!

I am not trying to be down on social media – I’m well aware of its benefits. However, there are many examples of companies whose investment in social media has not yielded results. Furthermore, the lack of results wasn’t their fault – it just wasn’t an effective channelfor them.

Also, I think it’s important to point out that these social media platforms have convinced a generation of marketers that the new currency of engagement (consisting of likes, shares, and comments), is more relevant than the old currency of dollars invested versus dollars returned. There is a big difference. Don’t believe me? Instead of Christmas bonuses this year, try giving out Facebook Likes.