“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”
John Wanamaker (1838-1922) was a very successful United States merchant, religious leader and political figure, considered by some to be a "pioneer in marketing”. He opened one of the first and most successful department stores in the United States, which grew to 16 stores and eventually became part of Macy’s.
He is credited with coining the phrase “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”.
I first heard this quote when I was studying the fundamental principles of marketing and advertising management at the University of Technology, Sydney. It’s come back to haunt me many times, every year when I had to approach the board for budget approval or to demonstrate an increasing ROI to the CFO.
Well, fast forward 93 years (1922 to 2015) and it’s very sad that John Wanamaker isn’t alive and with us today. He would have his answers, as many of us do. He would be able to accurately and precisely measure the ROI of practically every single activity and dollar spent.
The 2000’s saw the start of the evolution, the face of marketing changing forever. The age of digital looming, and with it marketing became a combination of precise, measurable science, deep strategy, leading edge technology, advanced psychology, education and of course execution through beautiful, engaging and creative art form. Successful marketing today is where science and art intersect to deliver superior results.
No longer do we rely on conclusions based on vague and imprecise relationships such as “we advertised last week and sales increased so it must have worked” or the common one that I’ve heard many times, “the objective was awareness and clearly many people are now aware of us”. In today’s world, this just does not cut it anymore.
Gone are the days when we would define roughly segmented target audiences and place an ad hoping someone would purchase something. Today’s marketing enables us to identify who to work with to make a sale, right down to individual level. What’s more, we can personalise and customise our advertising and messaging to each specific person, no matter how many people there are. We can even customise and personalise website pages depending on who’s viewing them.
Attracting the right people, converting them into leads, closing the sale and delighting the customer is about setting objectives, designing strategies and implementing scientific, measurable tactics that maximise goodwill, sales, revenue and profitability.
This is all achieved through very intelligent, extremely cost effective digital techniques, advanced marketing automation, modern website technologies, social media, the convergence of inbound and outbound marketing and most importantly, encased in a solid depth of understanding of the principles of marketing.