The Most Dangerous Word in Marketing

I love talking to prospective Marketing customers.

They are so earnest, they really want to do the best they can for their business.

Then they say the one word guaranteed to poison their marketing results for the rest of their days.

Can anyone guess? Anyone? Bueller?

The Most Dangerous Word in Marketing

After I’ve just spent an hour educating a customer about what works in marketing for their business and what they need, they turn to me and say:

“That sounds like a great idea. Let’s TRY it for a month or two.”

Sigh. My head just falls in my hands. I feel like Homer Simpson just hit me in the forehead.


Trying marketing is like trying a diet. Or a shoe on. For a day. Or 5 minutes.

My favorite memory of Bridget Jones’ Diary is the entry where she says: (quoted with little accuracy and giving total credit to the author)

1 tablespoon ice cream (fits with the ice cream diet)

2 cartons yogurt (fits with the all dairy diet)

1 small piece of pizza (fits with the champagne glass diet)

5 pieces of chocolate (fits with the its 9pm and I don’t care any more diet)


Laugh all you want, but you KNOW you’ve done this. Ladies AND gentlemen included.

My point is, you can’t try something on until the buzz wears off and then dump it with the conclusion that it didn’t work, or that it didn’t work for you.

You haven’t:

  1. given it enough time,
  2. executed it completely
  3. evaluated it correctly
  4. Relied on realistic expectations

A Success Story Misconstrued as Failure (or Pulling Failure out of the Jaws of Success)

We had a local plumbing company that used our digital marketing services for over a year. Our contact at the company really didn’t understand marketing, but she understood numbers because she was an accountant.

And she really wanted to know whether our marketing was working, so she decided to track where every single lead and phone call came from.

(And that part I applaud. You should ABSOLUTELY know where your leads are coming from. But I digress.)

At the end of the year, she called me to tell me that our marketing wasn’t working.

Why did she say that?

We didn’t get enough new customers out of your marketing, she explained.

Well, I asked, how many did you get?

We only got 60 new customers from your marketing.

Without counting referrals or repeat business. SIXTY. NEW. CUSTOMERS.

I asked her how often she got referrals. About 1 out of 3 customers referred someone to their business, she says.

So that is actually 90 new customers. Without counting repeat business.

They had broken even on their marketing expense without even counting repeat or referral business that should have been attributed to our marketing. Yet they counted this as failure.


Because she thought they should be getting more for their money. (though they were not spending that much with us).

Yet she refused, on the advice of TWO SEPARATE marketers, to include repeat or referral business in the revenue attributed to our marketing.

Why not?

Because she didn’t think it was right.

Why didn’t she think it was right? Because once the revenue came in, it was their revenue. It wasn’t from our marketing. Once a customer had used them once, any and all revenue from repeat business and referrals came from their service. Which I understand.


They NEVER would have FOUND YOU without our MARKETING.

The Big Question

My question is: How could you POSSIBLY think ANY marketing would succeed using that evaluation point?

NO WONDER she thinks that all marketing is a crock. She has no understanding of how to evaluate.

But back to my original point.

How should I evaluate and how long do I give it?

Because I don’t want to keep spending money if it’s not working.

The reality is that once you start marketing, it is not perfect. It is a continual tweaking process based on successes and failures of different campaigns.

(There are some of you looking at me in horror right now. I know. )

How could you possibly say that as a Marketing company?

Let me ask you:  Have you ever had a project or question that you couldn’t answer right away? That you had to dig and try a couple of solutions until it worked?

Does that mean you are unqualified as a business owner? Useless as a technician?  Unable to work in your chosen field?

No. It simply means you live in reality, and you’re getting paid to figure out/create/provide the solution to a problem.

Same thing with Marketing. (Oh, I know there are marketing people that are writhing over the fact that I’m pulling back the marketing curtain. Like the wizard of Oz)

There are things that succeed. And things that fail. Just because you failed at it once doesn’t mean you quit. It simply means you take that feedback and keep tweaking and testing until you get the results you want.

The good marketing people are the ones who keep evaluating, tweaking and trying new things to get and keep the results they want. The bad ones just disappear.

So how long do I wait?

You should commit to a year or more of marketing. The reality is you are not deciding whether to market or not, you are simply working through the tactics, platforms and strategies that work best for you.

It means that it’s a discussion between you and your marketing people to evaluate results up to that point. There will be clues as to success or failure.

The most successful companies commit to continually marketing their business FOREVER, and continuously work with a mixture of tried and true strategies, as well as new options.

Most companies do not see the real results of their marketing until the end of year two. That is NOT to say just ignore it for a year and then evaluate.

It means that it’s a discussion between you and your marketing people to evaluate results up to that point. There will be clues as to success or failure.

The 1st 3-6 months are getting traction under you, so that’s pretty much getting foundations in place. Then it’s about growing your audience, continuing to get in front of people and start pulling in leads and calls. If it’s nationwide, 6 months should be the very beginning of your benchmark.

How Often to Evaluate

Whether you use an outside marketing company or internal marketing people, you should be evaluating results monthly. That helps guide the marketing people to potential issues, scaling successful campaigns and seeing the mix and messages that work for your audience.

Also, learn about marketing as a business owner. It helps you make better decisions, allows more understanding of what the marketing people are doing, and helps you lead your company more effectively.

What’s My Next Step

That depends. What are you doing to Market your business?

Whether you’re starting from scratch or have marketing activities in place, the best way to start is to evaluate where you are and what results you’re currently getting. From there we can create a step-by-step plan to drive more leads and sales.

When you’re ready to learn more, contact Jennifer at B Practical Solutions,, or 708-403-5509.