Over the course of my 15-year marketing career, I have evaluated my fair share of marketing ideas. Many of these ideas have come from co-workers, managers, and owners. I have had requests for everything from videos to exhibiting at trade shows in Las Vegas to creating printed brochures and more.

Early in my career, I didn’t spend much time evaluating their requests, rather, I would add them to my to-do list and get working on them. As I gained experience, I also got smarter, and I soon became critical of internal marketing requests.

Now, when approached by someone who says “We need to attend the annual tech conference in Seattle the first week of October” the first question I ask is “What is your business case?”.

I can’t recall a single time when someone has been able to provide a reasonable business case. Most of the time I get one sentence responses something to the tune of:

“We need to do this because our competition is doing it.”
“We have always done it this way.”
“I can’t explain it – just trust me.”
“I’m the boss – just do it.”

I usually end up categorizing these requests as RAM – Random Acts of Marketing. Sometimes they pay off and other times not so much. None of them lead to long-term growth.

So, here are five reasons to say NO! to marketing:

1. The idea has little impact on the bottom line.

If you think the issue with marketing is that only 50% of your efforts pay off but you don’t know what 50% is paying off then you’re doing it wrong. Marketing efforts can be attributed to bottom line results when benchmarks are put in place and campaigns tracked correctly. If you can’t draw the path from a marketing initiative to sales then just say “No!”.

2. The idea is not part of the company strategy.

Small businesses serious about growing will have a strategy. Most plans will outline the target consumer of the main products and services key to a company’s success. If the marketing idea does not focus on your primary audience then just say “No!”.

3. Your customers expect you to do it.

There is limited time and money in every department – marketing is no different. It would be nice to be able to do every initiative, but it doesn’t work that way. Choices need to be made every day. Where is marketing time and money best spent? If the only reason you are running a campaign is your customers expect it, then just say “No!”. Only consider the campaign if it is strategic.

4. The competition is doing it.

If you want to be a leader in your industry, then be just that – a leader. Base your marketing on a sound strategy, defined objectives, and continuous measurement. If the main reason to go through with a marketing campaign is your competitor is doing it, then just say “No!”. Second place follows. First place leads.

5. You have always done it that way.

Executing a marketing campaign simply because you have done it before is not a reason. There are variables constantly changing that impact the growth of business. What worked at one time may no longer work today. Marketing is ever-changing, and so marketers and businesses must adapt. If you’re executing a marketing campaign for the sake of tradition then just say “No!”.

The growth of a small business requires marketers to be strategic and to say “No!” is an important part. However, always saying “No!” and never saying “Yes!” will get you nowhere.

As mentioned, marketers of small businesses have limited time and resources. Removing the “noise” that doesn’t contribute to the growth of a company leaves a lot more time to focus on marketing initiatives that do have an impact on business.