12 April 2023

How to stop spending money on ‘random acts of marketing’ that don’t have any impact

Robert Stead
Written by Robert Stead

Robert is a highly skilled Business to Business marketing director with over 13 years interim and part time experience. A believer in the “if you cannot measure the improvement it doesn’t exist” approach to marketing; completely focused, pragmatic and practical. Energetic, friendly and culturally adept, Robert has substantial European and international experience and is able to engage with the whole business, not just the marketing function. With a good strategic and operational marketing balance, Robert is always happy to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in. Marketing Centre Marketing Director of the year 2014.


One of the most surefire ways to waste your marketing budget is to rush into 'doing stuff' without knowing why.

It's something that we've seen time and time again - and it's especially common in small, SME marketing teams. 

Buying ads, doing webinars and lead generation. These are all worthy endeavours. 

But you need to start with 'why'. If you don't take the time to step back and make a plan, the likelihood of a positive return shrinks to almost zero.

This three-step strategy waterfall will help you:

  • Map out SMART goals for your business
  • Define the strategies needed to achieve your goals
  • Break down the tactics needed to make your strategy a reality

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What are your business goals?

You should already have set SMART goals for this year. If you haven’t, then “random acts of marketing” are the least of your worries. 

SMART goals could include things like: 

  • Bring in 100 new customers by (date)
  • Double unaided brand awareness by (date)
  • Increase gross margin by 1% per year

You’ll find more on SMART goals here.

For marketing to succeed, you need to have a clear, direct and measurable connection between your overall business goals and your day-to-day marketing activities. With your SMART goals determined, the next step is to translate them into strategies.

What are the strategies marketing need to deliver to achieve your business goals?

Take the first of your SMART goals. Look at it and ask: what must marketing do to help make this happen? 

There’s no need for specifics at this stage. Focus on the big picture and work out how your marketing needs to change or what it needs to start doing that it currently isn’t. 

Let’s take one of the goals listed above as an example. Here are some of the strategies that could be required: 


  • Bring in 100 new customers by 31/12/22


  • Double our prospect database
  • Launch segmented campaigns
  • Enable eCommerce
  • Use the CRM in the new business process

Marketing tactics that will deliver these goals

You’ve defined your business goals and outlined the marketing strategies needed to reach them. Now you need to decide which tactics will help you make your strategies happen.

This stage is where a lot of marketing teams start the process of trying to work out what to do. This is why so many of them spend their budgets on things that aren’t aligned with the business goals. 

Using our earlier example, the next step is to decide which tactics will help achieve your strategies.


  • Bring in 100 new customers by 31/12/23


  • Double our prospect database
  • Launch segmented campaigns
  • Enable eCommerce
  • Use the CRM in the new business process


  • Revised brochure
  • Customer referral process
  • Buy contact database
  • PPC campaign
  • Enhanced trade show programme
  • Improved customer onboarding
  • Add eCommerce module
  • Website usability improvements
  • CRM training

For each tactic, include a key metric that you will track to prove or disprove whether your work was successful. This will measure your day-to-day marketing activity against your strategies and ultimately your business goals. 

Pull together all of the tactics, costs, owners and timelines you’ve created into a single document and you’ll have a budgeted and resourced marketing plan, directly linked to what your business is trying to achieve.

Sounds obvious, right?

On the face of it, this may all seem pretty simple. But it’s far more difficult than it appears.

You’ll probably have a number of different strategies and tactics that could achieve your goals. What differentiates a great strategy from a poor one is choosing and prioritising the right strategies and tactics. The act of prioritisation - deciding what not to do - is where the most important decisions are made. 

That said, don’t worry if the plan you develop isn’t perfect the first time round. Even the act of going through this process will give you significantly better outcomes than rushing into ‘doing stuff’. 

As a colleague of ours used to say, “Don’t just do something, sit there”. Take the time to focus on what really matters, rather than relying on “random acts of marketing” to get you where you want to be. 


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