Learn to earn
Learning Centre
"Constantly think about how you could be doing things better."
- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
6 min read
By Lisa Teh

How to avoid wasting money on marketing


New, starry-eyed marketers may daydream about launching a startup with a logo as recognizable as Starbucks, an Instagram following that rivals Kim Kardashian, SEOs that propel their page to the top of Google search results, unparalleled ROI, and an endless line of eager customers.

However, marketing teams of both new and established companies, often find themselves staring at a dwindling budget with little to show for their efforts and payments. Many wonder, “Where is all this money being lost?”


Research is inarguably one of the most important ingredients in marketing. However, while some tactics are insightful, informative and relevant, others are skewed, outdated, and a drain on your finances.

When conducting research, data must have the greatest voice in the conversation. The old adage ‘The numbers don’t lie’ is cliche, but true. If a significant portion of your budget is poured into non-data backed research, it’s likely being wasted.

For example, trial groups are typically inaccurate representations of larger populations. The participants may have ulterior motives when answering surveys or giving feedback, such as wanting to please the organization or receive some kind of reward for their time (gift cards, payments, free subscriptions, etc.)

Data, such as web page bounce rate, will be a better metric to determine whether your content is landing well with customers.

What should I invest in researching?

  • Your target audience’s online whereabouts (Did you know that 25-34 year old males are the greatest category of Instagram users?)
  • Relevant marketing trends (Popular marketing and graphic design sites note that in 2019 customers’ shifted towards appreciating avant-garde graphics and unique artistic designs within branding over generic, free images)
  • Your competition’s tactics and marketing budget (Coca Cola has an annual marketing budget of $4 billion.)

These specific facts and numbers are worth paying for. Several peoples’ opinions are not.


Anyone in marketing knows that rebranding is a painful process. And not only is it laborious to start from scratch, continual rebranding also makes your organization more difficult to recognize. And in marketing recognition means trustworthiness.

There are occasions when rebranding is advisable or even necessary. However, if rebranding can be avoided, it ought to be.

Consider Campbell’s Soup, which achieved international recognition in 1962, courtesy of artist Andy Warhol. It has not rebranded since.


Though Campbell’s Soup has not rebranded in 58 years, it has created an online and social media presence since then. The world loves modern technology (2.6 billion people have Facebook accounts), so your brand should too.

If you’re paying for leaflets, newspaper ads, and billboards for a tech startup you’ll look outdated and irrelevant. It takes a special brand to master the retro-cool vibe. On the other hand, if you sell denture cream, keep buying newspaper and radio ads.


New or untrained marketers will be dazzled by their budget, and immediately go on a ‘brand shopping spree’. However, these things are NOT worth your money:

  • Buying cheap web content
  • Buying Instagram and Twitter followers

Numerous brand-specific articles and countless social media followers will be helpful in building your online presence. However, you must make sure you’re going about it correctly.


Having a large bank of quality web content, including articles, blogs, and listicles will direct online traffic to your page and keep them there. However, if the content is bad, potential customers will assume your products are too. It’s about the brand.

So, if you come across some cheap ways to mass-produce content, it’s best to look elsewhere. Cheap content is often poorly written or uninformative. Oftentimes, it is just un-researched fluff to meet word counts. Therefore, paying (even small amounts) for substandard content, is not worth it.

Conversely, if the content is actually substantive and written for a professional audience, viewers will stick around to learn more. And while they’re on your page, they just might buy something.


When you Google ‘buy Instagram followers’ no less than 361 million results appear. There are bundles of accounts for sale, such as “Starter Package”, “Popular Package”, “Premium Package.” And many are even advertised as ‘real’ Instagram accounts. However, purchasing followers does not yield productive results.

Purchased followers are inactive. They will not interact with your content, they do not boost likes, comment, tag friends on posts, or most importantly, purchase your product. These points of interaction are fundamental to building your brand because they boost your standing in search engines. Inactive followers cannot help you in this way.


Believe it or not, not all publicity is worth paying for. Once you know your target audience and their whereabouts, why would you pour tens of thousands of dollars into other channels? It’s no secret that the younger generation has moved on from Facebook, while the Boomers have taken over. Plan accordingly.

This may seem obvious, yet make sure your brand uses geographic targeting. This is specifically important if your business has a concentrated presence in one city or state. Further, if you offer geographically constrained services, do not advertise out of your area. There is no reason for a hair salon in LA to buy ads in Cincinnati.


Your brand will thrive if it spends its marketing budget wisely and strategically. Just because your team is pouring out thousands of dollars, does not mean the right people will see the right message. If you wish to avoid wasting money, end campaigns of:

  • Searching for useless, non-data driven research.
  • Continual, unnecessary rebranding. While it seems exciting and fresh, this will actually weaken your brand, and cost you hundreds or thousands in the process.
  • Outdated methods. If the data signifies that a platform or method is significantly losing traction, Why not take those funds and spend them on proven platforms or platforms with strong potential?
  • Buying weak content and inactive followers.
  • Targeting the wrong crowds.

Eliminating these practices will save your company hundreds or thousands of dollars and allow you to put that money where it really counts.

About the author


Co-Founder of Lisnic 🌏 Founder of CODI Agency (Digital Marketing)📱
View Profile

Want to know anything else?

We’re an open book so hit us up if we’ve missed anything here or if there’s something else you’d like to know.

Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell

Copyright © 2023 Lisnic. All rights reserved.