Surprising advice from a marketing professional, right? Don't spend too much on marketing – in fact, don't spend too much on any area. An equally next important piece of advice though: don't spend too little, either. The key to long-term success is to spend the right money on the right things.
I often see two common mistakes unfold: clients who spend too much money to acquire each new customer, and clients who do not spend enough money to support each new project. Looking at some of the businesses I've written about in this blog – the same ones we see on the front pages of the newspapers – it is easy to see (granted, in hindsight, and from the cheap seats) that they tried to scale too fast and were spending too much on advertising and promotion. The burn rate on marketing spends is high, and it doesn't take much to blow through cash and discover that your current sales and future potential sales-per-customer is out of whack.
If you spend a lot of money to acquire a customer, you have to ensure that those customers will generate consistent, long-term revenue (like in a subscription-based business). Best to ensure that you spend an appropriate amount, in the right arenas, to attract the right customers. This precision requires that you know who your best customers are and how to best target them.
The corollary to "Don't overspend" is also critical. If you are going to invest in a new project: a showroom, a new sales program, a new product line, you have to budget for the requisite marketing to support said project. There's nothing more futile than spending half a million dollars to lease space in a high-traffic area and build-out a gorgeous product showroom, then neglect to invest the money and time required to let your customers know you are open and ready for business. "If you build it, they will come," only works in baseball and cornfields. The rest of us need to send a message and repeat it until we're heard.