Don't spend money on marketing unless you're 100% certain the investment will pay off.
Even during lean times, companies spend a lot of money on marketing, hoping that the spending will result in future sales. Unfortunately, marketing is one of those areas where it's really easy to waste money.
Here are three popular wastes, along with advice for how to better spend the money:
I have never really understood the odd fascination that marketing groups have with brochures, because from what I can see, customers almost never read them.
More importantly, brochures encourage the bad habit among salespeople of pretending that brochures will do their selling for them. (E.g. "May I send you a brochure?")
The only time a brochure is necessary is when potential customers might see your lack of a brochure as a lack of commitment to that market.
Such situations, however, are relatively rare, which is why brochures need to go the way of the 3 martini lunch.
2. Brand Advertising
Any advertisements that are all about your brand--rather than your products or services--is money flushed down the toilet.
Your brand is the result of two things: 1) the quality and usefulness of your product or service and 2) how you treat your customers.
The only way to improve your brand and make it more valuable is to 1) have better products and services, or 2) treat your customers better.
Since nobody (except other marketers, maybe) cares about your brand as a "brand," use your advertising spend on your products and services.
3. Sales Tools
Let's get one thing clear, the desire of marketing groups to provide sales teams with sales tools (i.e. prospective emails, scripts, etc.) is entirely commendable.
The problem lies in the execution. All too often, such tools reflect how the marketers assume prospective customers will react.
Unfortunately, selling is like sex; unless you've done it a few times, you're not qualified to give anyone else advice on the subject.
If there's one thing I'm certain about when it comes to sales and marketing, it's that only salespeople should be creating sales tools.