Half My Marketing Spend is Wasted, But Which Half?

The Famous Advertising Quote Often Attributed to Retail Magnate John Wanamaker Was Much Harder to Answer Back in His Day


How To Know When Marketing Spend is Wasted

There is a famous advertising quote often attributed to retail magnate John Wanamaker:

“half my advertising budget is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half…”
– Famous Advertising Quote Attributed to John Wanamaker

It speaks to a common question, or queasy feeling most advertisers have for professional marketers: How do I know when marketing spend is wasted?  Asked another way, “How do I know when my advertising is really making me money?”

Professional Marketers Now Have a Better Answer Than in John Wannamaker’s Day

One of the greatest prospects of marketing in the digital era is that everything we do can be accountable for results and outcomes; ultimately responsible for marketing return on investment (ROI).

In the early days of department stores, John Wanamaker dominated retail in Philadelphia in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The Wanamaker Building still stands as a tribute to his legacy.

Today, John Wanamaker would be amazed by his ability to know exactly which half of his marketing spend is wasted.


What Makes the Difference

Innovations attributed to the digital advertising era allow make a big difference:

Tracking metrics has been a game changer.  We can now track and report the customer creation activity generated by every campaign, via every customer engagement channel (website, phone, text, e-mail, store front, etc.).

We are also able to attribute each conversion event.  For the sake of this discussion let’s define a conversion event as anything that creates an actionable lead (new customer prospect).  Since we can track each of these conversion events back to how it was generated, the marketing return on investment (ROI) of each campaign can subsequently be calculated.

The math for calculating marketing ROI can take many forms.  However, in the simplest form we prefer immediate ROI.  Here’s a link to how we calculate that.

We’re Here to Help

If you can’t shake the feeling that some or all of your marketing spend is wasted, let’s talk.  We invest in our clients long before they invest in us.  So we’re always willing to spend time to get to know you without being “on the clock.”

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After 3 decades as a professional marketer, serial entrepreneur and business consultant Steven Ludwig shares his best practices for small business marketing for owners, managers, and marketers with limited time, money, and expertise. Steven started his professional marketing career in broadcasting in the early ‘90s in Chicago after attending Valparaiso University. After a brief stint at an advertising agency specializing in entertainment and sports marketing where he worked with radio and television stations, movie theatre companies, record labels, musicians, and professional sports teams, he moved to Nashville to form The Marketing Group with his long-time business partner, Jim Wood. Having worked with some of the largest brands in the world, in 2010 he returned to local marketing primarily out of an interest and excitement for working with small business owners to build stronger companies. That desire comes out of early days in radio, where he worked closely with everything from car dealerships to restaurants, insurance and real estate agents, banks, home services companies, and specialty retailers of all kinds. Over the past decade, he has been on the bleeding edge of digital marketing technology, constantly seeking to understand complex strategies employed by giant corporations and then translate those capabilities into tactics small businesses can execute at a local level. Today, in addition to other business ventures with his wife and other long-time business partners, he still lives outside Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee and currently serves as Executive Chairman of EmpowerLocal, a digital marketing company building a nationwide network of digital, hyperlocal news and lifestyle publishers to provide efficient advertising opportunities for local, regional, and national brands.


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