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If you have a business or are responsible for marketing and advertising, you've likely heard the famous quote from department-store magnate John Wanamaker (1838-1922), who once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.” That quote is nearly 100 years old and I would argue, based on my inside view of the advertising agency world, that the challenge with determining "which half is wasted" is getting incrementally harder to determine for most. 

The good news doesn't have to be.


Advertising is an expensive, increasingly confusing, and often hard to measure "necessary evil" that all businesses must become good at to thrive and succeed in today's competitive market. When all pistons are firing, and your products and creative are on point, it can seem easy and effortless.  Unfortunately, for most of us, it is a bit more involved. Setting up campaigns and then monitoring and measuring even the most basic of programs can present challenges that can escalate quickly if not properly managed.


If marketing and advertising is not your core responsibility for your business, or if you are very experienced in certain aspects but less comfortable in others, building a comprehensive and integrated strategy that fits your business goals and budget can seem out of reach. It doesn't have to be. 

Sometimes, when resources and available talent is scarce, partnering strategically, and in a limited manner, with others to help set up, manage , and refine your marketing or advertising can be extremely useful and give you back the time (and money) you need to focus on other important parts of your business.


Advertising and marketing your business is a necessity and not something you can afford to not focus on and dedicate time and respources to if your goal is to grow sales, increase lead flow, and compete effectively for eyeballs and dollars in your category.

Whether you are an online store selling software, goods, or services...or a retail business hoping to increase in-store traffic, or a local restaurant trying to maximize repeat business from your loyal customer base, your challenges and opportunities will be unique to your business. The good news is that there is always room to improve and results can change quickly with the right team and approach.

Building a strong marketing and media strategy that gets smarter with each dollar spent is no easy task. Setting up goals, tracking performance across media channels, and picking the right agency or partner resources can be intimidating and costly.


Growing, scaling, and refining your programs based on actual results is one of the most critical and difficult activities you will face. Setting up your programs for success right from the begining is ideal, but we all know that is not often likely the case.


Ask yourself some of these questions when thinking about ways to measure and improve upon your existing strategies:


  • Which parts of my marketing strategy are most / least effective?

  • What is my overall goal for advertising? Is it direct sales? Branding? A mix?

  • How am I measuring the success of my different campaigns today? What does success / failure look like?

  • Are there areas like digital, social, or traditional media (TV, radio, OOO, print, etc.) that I avoid because I think that they are too expensive or out of reach for my business?

  • What is my competition doing that we should be considering / ignoring?

  • Are we growing our user base each month and leveraging all of our people an assets to continually improve?

  • Are we getting the most from our re-marketing and email campaigns? What is our strategy to test and learn?

  • Do we have a NPS (net promotor score) target? If yes, how are things going?

  • Do we have a clear strategy and plan established that maps to your business goals?

  • Do we have the necessary resources in-house to build and execute campaigns successfully, on time, and on budget?

  • Are my campaigns compliant with GDPR data use and other regulatory obligations?

  • Is my ad copy working? Is my creative fresh / stale? Which ads are working and which need to be abandoned?

  • What is my repeatable and measurable process for determining the ongoing success of my campaigns?

  • What are my biggest risk and opportunities associated with my campaigns, my competition, and my business overall?

  • What is my plan to address those risks?

  • Who else is responsible for the success of my campaigns / business?

  • Where can I go for help, mentorship, or to bounce ideas in real-time?


Over the last 15 years, Chicago has become home to some of the world's largest and most successful technology start-ups and incubators. Our teams have worked with, founded, invested, or helped start and grow some of Chicago's fastest growing SaaS companies.


Collectively our teams have spent more than 100 million dollars on advertising and marketing and have witnessed all of the mistakes and pitfalls associated with wasteful media spending. We've experienced the best and the worst campaigns from the inside of some of the world's top brands and their agency partners and and also learned tough lessons from our first-hand successes and failures.


Talking with an experienced digital or integrated marketer about your current strategy can provide invaluable perspective and help you navigate the decisions that are critical to the success of your campaigns and business.


Removing your emotion from the process can be difficult at first, but it is critical to realize that your opinions and preferences, when building a strategy or campaign are just that...opinions. If data is available, and can fortify and inform opinions, the game changes and quickly in your favor. Opinions mean very little in comparison to the actual data and client feedback from real users. The good news is that the answers are usually right there in front of us, but there is no more difficult process in the world than checking your ego at the door and taking an honest and fact-based approach to improving your campaigns and overall strategy.


Results are king. If you not growing your ROAS or less that satisfied with how your campaigns are meeting or exceeding your targets, stepping back and getting an objective opinion can make a big difference. Nobody wants to hear that their "baby is ugly", and quite often that is not the case, but accepting and activating on real client feedback and results will make your campaigns and ROI better, more easily scaled, and if managed properly...viral and profitable.

It is just difficult to see opportunities clearly when you are neck deep in the day-to-day detail.


Sometimes, all it takes is a step back and a conversation over coffee (or a beer) to spark a fresh idea, see something from a different vantage point, get a process "un-stuck", or make that tough decision.


Connect with us today and tell us about your current marketing strategy! We're here to listen, make useful introductions, and potentially offer some helpful suggestions that can move you one step closer to your goals.

Starting a conversation is easy and we never charge for an introductory discovery conversation. Let's get connected.

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