Perhaps you’ve heard the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to fall into this trap. We stick with what we know and what feels comfortable. But, if we’re not breaking through to the next level of sales, odds are we may be doing some “insane” marketing. The beginning of a new year is a great time to resolve to shake things up.

First, here are some of the symptoms of insane marketing. See if any of these look familiar:

  • you continue to spend money on the same promotions vehicles, without measuring how successful they are
  • you haven’t added a new tactic in several years
  • you haven’t deleted an old tactic in several years
  • you only have one or two ways to reach your prospects
  • your marketing plan is based on optimism

How do we stop the insanity? First, we need to get real. What a perfect time, as we plan for the new year, to take a good hard look at what’s working in our marketing program and what’s not. So, our game plan should be to:

#1: Figure out what’s working and do more of it. There’s a great quote by the store merchant John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

In order to intelligently fine-tune your program and lower your marketing expenses, you’ve got to know what’s working, and what’s not. And for that, you need to measure your results. This is the step that most people hate. But this is where the smart businessperson outperforms their competition.

First, you need a system to help you track each media’s effectiveness. If you don’t have a method for tracking, now’s a great time to put one in place. Measure how much revenue comes from each marketing source. If you’re doing comparisons of advertising you place in various publications, for example, you can include a separate, coded offer, in each. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as keeping a piece of paper next to the phone, and asking customers how they came to call you. Just make sure to track where your leads are coming from, and ideally, how much revenue is generated from each.

Next, you need to be able to compare results from various methods to determine which are your stars. Subtract your costs for each promotion (include design, production and placement costs) from the revenue you tracked from that source. You can now rank-order your marketing vehicles in terms of their return. This will give you insights into which ones you may want to add more budget to, or give you ideas for related techniques that could produce similar results.

#2: Stop doing what’s not working. This is one of my favorites. Perhaps because I have a tendency to keep adding to my to-do list, and rarely think about taking things off of it. In order to make time and energy for new opportunities, it’s best to also create a “stop doing” list, as well.

The previously mentioned evaluation of your marketing’s media will also help you determine the lowest performing media, which become targets to drop. (Granted, some media are used strictly for awareness-building and don’t intrinsically generate revenue. Exercise judgment here. Some items you HAVE to have, especially in start-up mode.)

How much simpler can this be? I know. I know. It’s easier said than done. But, I believe it’s always good to mix things up every once in a while – especially if you’re getting the same old (less than where you need them to be) results.