What does an awkward dinner party, a bad date, and an uninspiring interview all have in common?


They are all a horrible waste of time.

Throwing valuable marketing dollars down a black hole of no return is a similar waste of time. The trick is to learn from your black hole mistakes and move forward with a better ROI plan of attack. Here are a few marketing black holes to watch out for and tips on how to climb out if you fall in:

Not Knowing Your Audience

The reason that first date was a soul-crushing experience is because you didn’t know the other person, you didn’t know the audience. Both parties involved were trying to sell qualities the other wasn’t interested in. Same goes for marketing. Put in the time and research your customers. Create Buyer Personas that tell you exactly who the people are. Find general demographics, likes, interests, common problems, find out why they use your product or service, learn what the common language they use when communicating. All this information helps to create Buyer Personas that are targeted for your business. Knowing this will turn that first date into a match made in heaven.

Being Lost In Space

TV commercials, radio spots, magazine ads, junk mail flyers—all black holes in waiting. You see everyone else doing it, you see your competition doing it, so you better do it too! This is a sure-fire way to dump a truckload of cash down a black hole. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right.

These traditional forms of advertising have a place, but they are expensive and notoriously hard to track. You pay for the media then sit back and wait. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. If it does, which medium pulled the people in? Spending marketing dollars on newspaper ads, radio and TV spots, and direct mail may sometimes feel more like a necessary evil than an effective strategy. Primarily because you’re spending thousands of dollars with little data to know if your efforts are attracting customers.

You blast out your message but who are you really talking to? Are you talking to your targeted buyer personas with broadcast media, or are your messages getting lost in space, never to return? Develop a content strategy that reaches people at the right time, in the right place, with the right message. That is how you generate amazing ROI.

Carrying Dead Weight

What’s that cliche definition for insanity? Ah, yes, keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Those words should be remembered in marketing as well, if not your marketing dollars will sail off into oblivion. Yes, some marketing strategies take time to work and it’s always good to test new ideas. Just remember that at some point you need to realize that the respirator plug needs to be pulled on ideas and strategies that don’t perform. Listen to the numbers, they don’t lie.

Just as Thomas Edison said, “I didn’t fail 10,000 times, I found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”

Click Click Boom

One of the easiest black holes to fall prey to is an improperly managed Pay-Per-Click account.

You set up your Google Adwords campaigns, picked a few words you think customers will type in, set bids, then hit GO. You check the campaigns and see that the ads are driving some clicks and then you forget about it after a couple weeks. Congratulations, you and those marketing dollars just slid across the Event Horizon.

Managing a Google Adwords account like this is a dangerous endeavor. Creating ads without testing ad copy, not optimizing positive and negative keywords, or adjusting bids to find your sweet spot is pure craziness. You might as well just close your eyes and give Google a check each month.


Track, analyze, and track again! Take a proactive approach to your marketing efforts. Don’t rest on good, strive for great. Good is the enemy of great. Create buyer personas for each of your customer types and base all your efforts on helping solve their problems. Don’t experience that awful first date. Don’t walk into that awkward dinner party. Deliver the right message to the right person at the same time they are looking for it, do this and your marketing dollars will avoid being spaghettified by black holes.