Poker players are very familiar with the term “know when to hold, and when to fold.” If you aren’t familiar with the game of poker, players must decide whether the cards they have been dealt are good enough to “hold” and compete against the cards held by other players, or if the player should “fold” and bow out of the game before risking any more of their holdings. It’s a perfect metaphor for the dilemma that small business owners face with marketing. So is your current marketing campaign working well enough for you to “hold,” or should you “fold” and go with another campaign or strategy before you risk losing too much of your marketing budget and resources? Making a decision one way or the other may be harder than you initially think.

Know When To Hold

Determining whether or not your current marketing campaign is working is more difficult than just figuring out whether or not your sales have increased. Unfortunately, many small business owners feel as though they don’t have the time or resources to research their marketing effectiveness, or they rely on a third-party to report on the success or failure of their current marketing campaign – despite the fact that the third-party may have a financial incentive to maintain the current campaign. It is important to set realistic goals, including a benchmark and metrics for determining the success or failure of your current campaign. If a third-party salesman is assuring you that your current marketing is working, ask them to provide quantitative evidence, and be wary of anyone who fails to do so or offers empty assurances that such research isn’t necessary.

Know When To Fold

It may be difficult to believe, but many small business owners and managers often have a difficult time discontinuing ineffective marketing campaigns. This is often caused by a personal involvement of the owner or manager in the campaign itself, which can happen if they personally created some of the branding elements. Even if you don’t have a personal investment in your marketing, many owners and managers are simply reluctant to jettison a marketing campaign that was expensive to produce. However, it is vitally important to remember that the ultimate goal of any marketing and advertising campaign is to increase sales and raise positive brand awareness, and any marketing or advertising that is ineffective simply represents an ongoing waste of valuable (and often limited) resources.

Know When To Mix It Up

If it can be proven that your current marketing campaign is producing results, set an ongoing timetable for periodically measuring its effectiveness – don’t assume that a campaign that’s successful now will always remain successful. Consumers can grow weary of repetitive marketing and advertising campaigns, and your competitors can introduce their own marketing campaigns that can prove disruptive and harmful to your campaign.

Throwing Good Money After Bad

As we previously mentioned, having a system for measuring the effectiveness of a marketing campaign can help overcome personal objections and persuasive third-parties that may have a personal interest in continuing or discontinuing an existing marketing campaign, regardless of its effectiveness. The term “throwing good money after bad” is a great illustration of how an ineffective marketing campaign can be an ongoing drain of time and resources – discontinuing an expensive marketing campaign and creating a new one can be more cost-effective over time than continuing to “throw” resources at a campaign that isn’t producing results.