Now don’t get me wrong. I am not at all hostile to spending marketing dollars. In order to attract customers, they have to know you are there and what you have to offer.

However I just experienced an eye opening instance when money spent on marketing would have probably been a complete waste.

A Marketable Event

One of the primary reasons Gorgeous and I didn’t head right back to Savannah after SOBCon is that we had to come up to Wisconsin to finish cleaning out her father’s house. The plan was to have the mother of all rummage sales to get rid of it all.

As originally conceived the sale would run Thursday, Friday and Saturday and we expected it would take all three days to convince folks to pay us a token for the privilege of carting off Dad’s stuff. We’d have to either pay someone to remove whatever was left over, or add it to the U-Haul we’ll be driving back toward Savannah on Sunday.

Since we had three days to work with we made the strategic decision not to advertise the sale as is the custom in this part of Wisconsin. Factoring into that decision was the fact that Dad’s house is on the main drag in town. We figured there’d be enough traffic over 3 days that we could take the chance and forgo the mass marketing and just put one sign on the curb.

We miscalculated somewhat.

Rummage Sale Insanity

On a whim we started a day earlier than planned simply because Gorgeous was ready and the weather seemed to be cooperating. We figured there wouldn’t be much traffic on a Wednesday so I was going to help her drag all the stuff from the house and garage outside then head down to my coffee shop office for some work of my own.


Before we even got everything dragged outside or the sign up the first person was rummaging through the stuff. At 6:30 in the morning! And it was wall to wall people all day long. We didn’t get our first lull until after 2 in the afternoon.

We had people getting grumpy because someone else had claimed the particular “treasure” they wanted.

One guy got yelled at by a police officer because he ran through traffic across the street and nearly got hit by the patrol car.

A pickup-truck stopped in the street to take a look and nearly got itself rear ended by a couple teen agers who weren’t paying attention in the 25 MPH zone.

I ran down to the bank when they opened at 9 to get some small bills for change. (“I want this do-dad for a quarter but all I have is a $20. Can you break that?” Sheesh!) The teller at the drive through asked if ours was the sale on the main drag because she said she nearly hit someone crossing the street there on her way into work. I sheepishly apologized to her for the madness.

By the end of the day Gorgeous and I were completely exhausted. And we’d unloaded about 80-90% of the stuff we wanted to get rid of. And we had several hundred dollars to add to Mom’s account.

And we still have 3 days to unload the few things that we have left.

Marketing Dollars Saved

Ours happened to be an example where paying for marketing would not have improved our desired outcome measurably. Had we advertised the sale and seen the same results, we would have mistakenly assumed the ads were the reason yesterday was so successful for us.

Granted ours is a one time example that is probably atypical. I don’t mean it as a slam toward marketers.

But how often do we make assumptions about our marketing that may or may not be consistent with reality?

I guess the challenge is to take the time to test, measure, and evaluate our marketing efforts before we commit to a specific marketing plan.

That way we can know how our marketing efforts are affecting our bottom line rather than relying on faulty assumptions.


SuccessCREEations is now Kingdom House Productions