How to Waste Good Money on Marketing

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Set the budget ablaze.

‘With a little time and effort you too can increase your company’s marketing expenses and lower results’

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When not dispensing contrarian marketing advice, Darren Krolewski is co-president and chief business development officer of MHVillage, the top website for manufactured homes, retailers, and communities, and leads efforts that generate home transactions of more than $3 billion.

On the subject of marketing, the legendary department store pioneer John Wanamaker famously lamented, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Just imagine what it was like to be a marketer in the late 19th century laboring under such adverse conditions. No websites. No Internet. No social media. You could only rely on newspapers, a few catalogs and the occasional holiday parade on which to throw away your marketing dollars. Meanwhile, you’d be forced to toil on with the knowledge that some unknown share of your advertising could actually be working. The horror!

Thankfully, marketing has come a long way since those barbaric times. With the advent of digital marketing, choices in advertising channels for manufactured housing professionals have increased exponentially. Yet despite these advancements, so many communities, retailers and service providers continue to struggle with how to deplete their advertising investment in the fastest and most gratuitous manner possible.

But don’t worry, with a little time and effort you too can increase your company’s marketing expenses and lower results. Here are a few tips to almost guarantee the complete and total failure of any and all marketing initiatives.

1. Don’t Track Your Advertising

Not tracking your advertising is a surefire strategy to ensure the greatest ineffectiveness of your marketing campaigns. If you don’t know what specific channels, platforms and creative are generating leads, you’ll never be able to shift your marketing budget into the ones that are the most profitable. One of the best free tools for tracking the effectiveness of online advertising is Google Analytics. Less experienced marketers use this tool to generate a unique tracking code that can be placed in different types of digital ads to help determine which are generating the most clicks. Best to avoid it. Just send all your visitors to your homepage so you have no idea how they got there. After all, knowing how people are finding you, where they are coming from and if your website is doing its job can only lead to better results. And we definitely don’t want that.

2. Don’t Bother Having a Good Website

Studies have shown that this internet thing will probably end up being a complete waste of time. Centuries from now, future civilizations will ponder our attachment to cat videos, sharing pictures of our meals, and buying products and services without leaving our homes. On the other hand, a terrible website can be a great way to consume a large portion of your advertising budget and erode the effectiveness of your digital campaigns. Remember, when it comes to websites, speed rarely matters. Be sure your website loads as slowly as possible so visitors will get frustrated and leave. Also, make sure your website is nearly unusable from a mobile device. Give particular attention to making forms and buttons insidiously difficult to use on a small screen. Focus instead on the proven desktop experience. 

3. Don’t Optimize Your Ad Campaigns

Remember those late-night rotisserie grill infomercials that touted “Set it and forget it?” It’s a strategy that works on more than just poultry. Once you come up with some creative advertising, you should never change a good thing. Or a bad thing. Or anything. Just let your ads keep running forever until any response gradually fades away. Changing ads every few weeks to keep them fresh is just a myth perpetuated by unscrupulous graphic designers. Don’t be a sucker. The fewer clicks you get, the higher your cost per click. It’s simple math. Trust your instincts. There’s no point in A/B testing different versions of your ads against one another to see which headlines and content work best. That would only expose faults in your initial judgment. Some may argue that impressions without clicks indicate a problem with your ad creative. Or clicks without conversions may suggest an issue with your landing page. Then again, some people argue about most everything.

4. Don’t Limit Yourself to a Single Call to Action

It’s been said that variety is the spice of life. What better way to encourage consumer happiness than to give your website visitors lots of choices? Don’t limit the possibilities by suggesting a single, straightforward call to action such as the completion of a lead form or application. No, like an old Choose Your Own Adventure® novel, you should strive to provide as many potential outcomes as possible. Even if some of them lead to dead ends. Be sure to utilize as many different domains and subdomains as possible, including switching over to third-party service providers, to make it as tough as possible on your web developer to keep the tracking straight. When in doubt, share the blame. The same holds true for promotional emails as well. Be sure to incorporate as many calls to action and clicks as you can. Ask the recipient to take a survey, watch a video, click on a button, and click to learn more. People love to feel like they are part of something. Give it to them.

5. Don’t Advertise Consistently

Many marketers believe repeating a message multiple times builds awareness and recall. Many marketers believe repeating a message multiple times builds awareness and recall. See what I did there? Wasn’t it annoying? Part of the fun of marketing is constantly coming up with new advertising ideas and ways to spend your company’s money. That way you can enjoy the creative process again and again. If you maintained a consistent advertising budget over time, you’d be able to establish and maintain momentum much easier than starting from a dead stop. Sure such a radical strategy may purport to be more successful and cost efficient, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, try stopping and starting your advertising every chance you get. Salesperson call in sick? Turn off the ads. Rain in the forecast? Turn off the ads. Prospect says they’ll “think about it”? Turn off the ads! You get the idea. Turn off the ads.

6. Don’t Follow Up

According to a study by Brevet, 80% of sales require an average of five follow-ups in order to close the deal. Five follow-ups? Who has time for that!? Everyone knows that if a prospect isn’t ready to make a commitment right away, they’re not a serious buyer. Don’t let them lead you on. It’s difficult to contemplate why so many tire kickers spend their time responding to ads and visiting manufactured home sales centers. The world may never know. As a marketer, you should focus all of your advertising budget on one thing and one thing only: generating a steady flow of new leads. The vast majority of these aren’t going to convert. Learn to accept it. Don’t waste your time on marketing pseudoscience like mapping the customer journey and crafting specific follow-up campaigns for different personas and phases of the buying process. Absolutely not. Try lots of new things. Get your marketing budget out there. Keep the economy humming. So what do you do with all those bad leads? Put them in a file and never look at them again. Out of sight, out of mind.

So while marketing may have evolved, that doesn’t mean you have to. When sales are cooling off and it’s taking twice as much effort to generate the same results, don’t be afraid to stop. Stop it all. Why even question which half of your advertising is working when you can ensure none of it is? Let your competition carry the load. Those fools. Because if there is one thing we’ve learned about marketing over the last century and a half it’s this: sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing at all.

MHInsider is the leader in manufactured housing news and is a product of MHVillage, the top marketplace for manufactured homes.