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One of my clients is running a small banner ad on a local lawyers association website. The association charges $1,500 per year for these ads and limits them to the company name/logo and a short tagline. Naturally, we put a lot of thought into that tagline. I was shocked to see, though, that half of the other advertisers didn’t even bother to write one. Instead, they’re spending $1,500 a year to run ads that don’t give any clue as to what they’re selling. A ridiculous waste – and the kind of waste that’s more common than you would think.


Last December the nice folks at Google sent me a beautiful direct mail package. Inside the outer carton was an attractive, high-quality embossed box. Inside the box was a hard cover book, a letter, and an invitation to an event in Mountain View. It was very impressive – and a total waste of money. It was all an attention-getting device to introduce the CEO of Plumtree Marketing to a new service targeted at full-service ad agencies. I don’t know where they bought their list, but I’m definitely not running a full-service ad agency.

Spend Your Money Wisely

While I realize that marketing certainly isn’t an exact science, I’m often shocked at how much money companies waste on poorly targeted, poorly executed or ill-conceived marketing programs.

Before you move ahead with your next marketing campaign, ask a lot of questions, such as:

  • What is the program’s goal?
  • Why do we think that the program will reach this goal?
  • Have we thought through all of the things that might go wrong? (See my previous article on 20/20 Foresight)
  • Are the graphic design, language and tone appropriate for our target audience?
  • Is it well-written?
  • Can prospects easily tell what we’re selling?
  • Are the benefits clear?
  • Is the offer good?
  • Is there a call to action?
  • Do we make it easy for prospects to take the next step?
  • Is our contact information prominent?
  • If this is a mail piece, how accurate, recent and well-targeted is the list?
  • Do we have a mechanism in place to track the program’s results?
  • If this is a printed brochure, how and when do we plan to use it?

Take the time to really think things through up front to avoid wasting money on programs that are bound to fail.

What Others Are Saying

"Each time I work with Linda, I am reminded just how well she understands marketing. Linda understands the principles of marketing on a psychological level. She sees the bigger picture. She is pragmatic, insightful and incredibly fast."

Kristine Putt,
Owner and Brand Identity Designer, Paragon Moon