top of page

Blog - Post

Walking the Plank: How Wasteful Marketing Can Sink Your Ship

Updated: Jan 22

Before you embark, I feel it is essential that I give you, the reader, a heads up to the style of this article. This article is dedicated to a close friend of mine, Denny, who has a monstrous distaste for all things pun. And as any good friend should, I have written one continuously streamed pun just for him!

My goal is to write something immensely informative, while at the same time aiming for that goldilocks zone of "it's so bad, it's good."With that in mind, please enjoy and lean into the ridiculousness of this article while heading the valuable knowledge... or treasure... embedded within. Thank you for reading!

-Ryan, Owner, Out of the Box Advisors


In the vast and often unpredictable ocean of business, small enterprises navigate the waves, seeking to chart a course toward growth and prosperity. Every successful voyage demands a keen understanding of resource management, especially when it comes to the crucial realm of marketing budgets. Like skilled captains at the helm, businesses must steer clear of the lurking dangers that can sink their ships, one of the gravest being the squandering of valuable marketing resources.

A grouping of small sailboats making way during a sunrise

Even the most masterful marketing strategists can find themselves adrift if not anchored with prudent budget management. It's not merely about casting the widest net; it's about ensuring that every cast yields a bountiful catch. As the winds of competition blow ever stronger, businesses must be vigilant in avoiding the seven perilous traps that can lead to the wastage of their marketing budget. So, batten down the hatches, raise the sails, and join us as we set sail on a journey to uncover the secrets of shrewd marketing budget navigation.

Now, without further ado, let's plunge into the tumultuous yet exhilarating world of steering small businesses away from the treacherous undercurrents that can drag them down.


1. The Maelstrom of Mishandled Leads

Even if your marketing efforts are as efficient as a well-oiled ship, smoothly navigating the high tides of lead generation, all could still be for naught if you're not careful about securing those leads. Remember, even with a full net of leads, allowing them to slip away unattended could spell disaster for your business. After all, what good is a full sail if you can't steer your ship to the harbor?

Image with the words, dont waste your leads on it with some old net and starfish laying on grey wood planks.

In the unpredictable waters of small business, mishandled leads act as treacherous maelstroms, pulling potential success into a vortex of missed opportunities and wasted resources. Each mishandled lead represents not just a lost chance but also a drain on your marketing budget, a leak in your ship that needs urgent attention.


To steer clear of this impending disaster, it's vital to ensure your business has a robust system in place for managing and nurturing these leads. Whether it's responding promptly to inquiries, providing tailored solutions, or simply showing customers that their needs matter, every effort counts toward setting a course for success.

You should be establishing an effective lead management process and training your team to handle inquiries with care and precision. No stone should be left unturned in securing these potential sales opportunities. Remember, in the turbulent sea of business, even the smallest lead can be the beacon that guides your business to safe harbors of success.

a sunken boat docked.
You'll eventually sink if you waste leads.

By instilling a culture of prompt and efficient lead management, businesses can plug the holes that lead to lead leakage. Clear communication channels, personalized follow-ups, and proactive engagement can prevent leads from slipping through the cracks. When every lead is treated as a potential treasure, businesses can ensure that no opportunity sails away unexplored.

It's time to batten down the hatches and navigate the turbulent maelstrom of mishandled leads, ensuring your business stays on course for smooth sailing in the competitive seas of commerce.

2. The Bermuda Triangle of Misdirected Ads

In the vast expanse of the digital marketing sea, navigating the Bermuda Triangle of misdirected ads can be a harrowing experience for any small business. Similar to a ship lost in the enigmatic Bermuda Triangle, misdirected advertisements can lead to wasted resources and missed opportunities, steering businesses off course.

lonely cannon sitting on a beach aimed at an empty ocean.
Firing at nothing always yields a "Miss"

The digital landscape, with its myriad of platforms and advertising avenues, presents businesses with a wealth of opportunities to reach potential customers. However, without a clear understanding of the target audience, it's easy to fall into the trap of casting advertisements aimlessly, hoping to hit a receptive audience. Unfortunately, without precise targeting, these efforts often end up lost in the digital abyss, yielding little to no meaningful return on investment.

Imagine a distress call set adrift in a sea of white noise, lost among unrelated signals, with no specific recipient to respond. Similarly, misdirected advertisements not only drain the marketing budget but also dilute the impact of the intended message. In the crowded digital space, reaching the wrong audience can result in a significant depletion of resources, akin to a ship's precious cargo vanishing in the depths of the ocean.

One real world example of this: We had a client in Florida who suddenly started receiving calls for a similar business that was based in Washington state. When we investigated, we discovered that this business had begun running Google Ads, but had failed to restrict their targeting to their area. This led to an untold number of clicks to this ad by people across multiple states. Each click being another wasted amount of their ad budget!


a classic, antique photo of an expeditionary ship believed to be the RRS discovery
I believe this is the RRS Discovery. Now docked in Dundee, Scotland!

To navigate the choppy waters of digital marketing successfully, businesses must embark on a comprehensive market research expedition. By meticulously understanding the nuances of the target demographic, businesses can strategically position themselves to reach the right audience with precision. This involves delving deep into consumer behaviors, preferences, and online habits, much like a seasoned sailor studying the ebbs and flows of the tides.

Furthermore, businesses can utilize a range of sophisticated targeted advertising tools and platforms to maximize the impact of their marketing efforts. By honing in on specific demographics and customizing messaging to suit their preferences, businesses can steer clear of the Bermuda Triangle of misdirected ads, ensuring their resources are efficiently allocated to yield the desired results.

It's time you learned how to steer clear of the Bermuda Triangle of misdirected ads and chart a course toward the shores of targeted success in the vast and dynamic digital ocean!

3. Caught in the Doldrums of Inconsistent Branding

Maintaining a consistent brand identity is crucial for steering the ship of success. However, finding oneself caught in the doldrums of inconsistent branding can leave businesses drifting aimlessly, without a clear identity to guide their customers.

closeup of a pirate flag flying in a stormy sky
Your brand is the flag you fly.

Picture this: a ship with a constantly changing flag, leaving onlookers perplexed about its true identity and purpose. Similarly, inconsistent branding can confuse potential customers, diluting the impact of a business's message and hindering its ability to establish a strong foothold in the market. Without a clear, consistent brand flag flying, people might lose trust in your business and assume your real flag is that of a pirate!

Without a unified brand voice, businesses risk losing the trust and loyalty of their audience, much like a ship without a recognizable emblem risking being mistaken for an unknown vessel. This lack of recognition can lead to a loss of potential sales and customer retention, both of which are vital for long-term success.


an example of a small business branding guide.
Brand Guides are maps to who you are!

To steer clear of the doldrums of inconsistent branding, businesses must first establish clear brand guidelines and messaging strategies. By defining a cohesive brand identity, including visual elements, tone of voice, and values, businesses can ensure that every piece of content and every customer interaction reflects the essence of the brand.

Moreover, maintaining consistency across all marketing channels and touch-points is essential. Whether it's the company website, social media platforms, or traditional advertising, every communication should echo the same brand message and values, akin to a ship flying the same flag proudly in any weather.

By anchoring themselves in a consistent brand identity, businesses can navigate through the fickle tides of the market with confidence, establishing themselves as a reliable and recognizable presence in the eyes of their customers.

To navigate the turbulent waters of branding you must establish a sturdy identity that guides your small businesses toward success in the competitive sea of commerce.

4. Going Overboard with Overspending on Ineffective Campaigns

It's easy for small businesses to get carried away and go overboard with spending on campaigns that yield minimal returns (I am looking at you Discount Magazines across the nation). Similar to a ship's crew tossing valuable resources into the sea without a meaningful catch, overspending on ineffective campaigns can lead to a significant drain on a business's marketing budget.

a classic frigate adrift with no wind to power it's sails
A grand campaign with no sales wind.

Imagine hoisting the sails for a grand marketing campaign, only to find the winds of customer engagement barely ruffling the surface. Overspending on such ventures can leave businesses struggling to stay afloat, with little to show for their considerable investments.

Without a clear strategy and thorough evaluation of the return on investment, businesses risk sinking resources into campaigns that fail to generate the desired traction. Much like a ship battling against relentless currents, overspending on ineffective marketing campaigns can lead to a slow and steady decline in the business's financial reserves.

Social media is a massive example of this waste. Most small businesses fail to see that the socials are better for brand awareness than sales. They will put down a relative treasure trove of investment expecting sales to grow, only to discover they wasted all their budget on brand awareness. As powerful as that is, it's still wasteful with respect to their intended goal.


To navigate through these challenging waters, businesses must set realistic campaign budgets and continuously monitor and optimize their performance. By closely tracking key performance indicators and adjusting strategies accordingly, businesses can ensure that every marketing effort is a calculated investment, rather than an impulsive expenditure.

To go back to our real world example above, if they had been monitoring their metrics they should have seen where the clicks were coming from geographically and caught their own error. Don't venture forth on a tour without having a navigator who knows what to look for!

a fun image of a treasure map surrounded by various pirate related items.
Knowing your Market Map can lead to Treasure

Moreover, conducting comprehensive market research and understanding the pulse of the target audience can help businesses tailor their campaigns to resonate with the right customers. Just like skilled sailors adjusting the sails to harness the optimal wind, businesses must fine-tune their campaigns to capture the attention and interest of their intended audience effectively.

By striking a balance between investment and return, businesses can avoid the peril of overspending on ineffective campaigns and ensure that their marketing budget remains a valuable asset in their journey toward success.

Learning how to navigate the turbulent waters of campaign spending and optimize resources for maximum impact in the competitive sea of commerce is crucial.

5. Navigating the Storms of Poor Customer Engagement

Speaking of navigation, maintaining a strong connection with customers is akin to navigating through unpredictable storms. Much like a ship battling tumultuous waves, businesses can find themselves struggling to stay afloat in the face of poor customer engagement, risking the loss of valuable relationships and revenue.

a close up of a crew actively sailing a racing sailboat.
Send any disengaged crew to the brig!

Imagine setting sail with a disengaged crew, each member indifferent to the ship's course and destination. Similarly, poor customer engagement can leave businesses adrift, with customers showing little interest in their offerings and little loyalty to their brand.

Neglecting customer engagement can lead to a lack of customer satisfaction and, ultimately, customer churn, much like a leak in a ship's hull leading to a steady inflow of water. This can result in a gradual decline in revenue and a compromised brand reputation, both of which are vital for sustainable growth and success.


To weather these storms successfully, businesses must prioritize comprehensive customer support systems and proactive engagement strategies. This includes fostering open lines of communication, actively seeking and responding to customer feedback, and providing timely and effective solutions to their concerns, much like a vigilant captain ensuring the well-being of the crew.

Moreover, businesses must establish a strong online presence across various digital platforms and social media channels, actively engaging with customers and building a community around their brand. By fostering meaningful relationships with their audience, businesses can create a loyal customer base that not only continues to support them but also advocates for their brand, much like a dedicated crew committed to the success of their ship.

picture of the bridge of a modern ship with a weather radar active.
See the storm before it crushes your business

Lastly, we are borderline religiously pushing our clients to operate customer satisfaction surveys. This is the weathervane for storms or clear skies ahead for your business. If you can catch and steer clear of storm before you sail into it, you'll increase your chances of building positive, long-lasting relationships.

By navigating through the storms of poor customer engagement with a proactive and customer-centric approach, businesses can secure their position in the competitive sea of commerce and set sail toward long-term success and sustainability.

Foster lasting relationships that anchor businesses in the hearts and minds of your customers.

6. Lost at Sea with Irrelevant Content Marketing

Most small businesses find themselves adrift at some point. Sometimes lost amidst the waves of irrelevant marketing messages. Similar to a ship without a clear destination, deploying irrelevant content marketing can lead to wasted resources and missed opportunities, leaving businesses struggling to make an impact in the minds of their audience.

image of a smart phone screen with various social media apps on the screen
Have a clear message across all platforms!

Imagine setting sail with a cargo of goods that hold no value or interest to your intended recipients. Similarly, pushing out irrelevant content can lead to a lack of engagement and interest from potential customers, ultimately resulting in a missed opportunity to build meaningful connections and drive conversions.

Without a strategic approach to content creation and distribution, businesses risk being swept away by the currents of generic and lack of engaging messaging, much like a ship at the mercy of unpredictable tides. This can lead to a dilution of the brand message and a failure to resonate with the target audience, causing businesses to fade into the vast expanse of the digital sea.


To navigate through this challenging terrain, businesses must first conduct comprehensive audience research and understand the preferences and pain points of their target customers. By tailoring content to address these specific needs and interests, businesses can ensure that their messages reach the right audience at the right time, much like a well-calibrated compass guiding a ship through uncharted waters.

close up view of a throttle of a large ship
Avoid going full steam with no direction.

Moreover, businesses must continuously evaluate the performance of their content marketing efforts, adjusting their strategies based on real-time data and insights. By staying attuned to the evolving needs and interests of their audience, businesses can ensure that their content remains relevant and impactful, setting the stage for meaningful engagement and long-term brand loyalty.

However, steering clear of trends or at least restraining yourself from chasing every last one is also a must. Most small businesses are not going to win over their target customers because they did the latest trend on insta. Pretty much the only companies that benefit from that type of marketing are the ones involved direct in trends such as fashion etc.

By steering clear of the peril of irrelevant content marketing, businesses can set sail with a clear direction and purpose, ensuring that every piece of content serves as a beacon that guides their audience toward their brand's value and offerings.

Knowing how to chart a course away from the waters of irrelevant content marketing and toward the shores of impactful brand messaging will save your precious marketing budget!

7. Anchored Down by Ineffective Social Media Strategies

In the sea of social media, small businesses can often find themselves anchored in a bog ineffective strategies, unable to harness the full potential of these powerful platforms. Similar to a military frigate expending resources to transport merchant goods instead of fortifying its protective armor, small businesses can waste valuable time and budget by pursuing social media strategies that don't align with their lead generation goals.

old painting of two ships caught out in a storm
Bonus Fun: To find this I searched "Ship Storm"

Imagine a ship's crew spending hours loading and unloading cargo, only to find their vessel unprepared for an incoming storm. Similarly, for many small businesses, the time and resources invested in managing social media profiles and hiring influencers might not yield the desired return on investment.

Without a strategic approach to social media management, businesses risk being adrift in a sea of likes and shares, without any tangible impact on their bottom line. We can't even count the number of clients that have come on board initially proud of the thousands of followers they've built yet confused as to why that isn't translating into new sales.

While social media can be a powerful tool for brand building and customer engagement, it's essential for businesses to discern whether it's the most effective channel for generating leads. Much like a military frigate needing to prioritize the reinforcement of its hull, small businesses must focus their resources on strategies that directly contribute to lead generation and conversion, rather than expending valuable resources on activities that don't align with their primary objectives.


In order to avoid this storm, businesses must first conduct a thorough analysis of their target audience and the channels that best resonate with them. By understanding where their potential leads are most active, businesses can tailor their marketing efforts to align with the platforms that offer the most promising returns.

small boy pretending to aim a prop cannon
Aiming for the "target" customer!

Moreover, by leveraging a diverse array of marketing channels and strategies, businesses can create a robust marketing portfolio that maximizes their lead generation potential. This includes incorporating email marketing, search engine optimization, and other targeted approaches that have a proven track record of converting leads into loyal customers.

By strategically allocating resources and focusing on lead generation strategies that offer the highest returns, businesses can set sail toward a horizon of efficient and effective marketing, ensuring that every effort contributes to the growth and success of their enterprise.

Hoist the anchor of ineffective social media strategies and steer your businesses toward more targeted and impactful marketing efforts!

8. Steering Clear of the Sirens of Inadequate Data Analysis

Small enterprises must navigate carefully to avoid the seductive call of inadequate data analysis, a perilous trap that can lead them astray from the course of success. Similar to the enchanting call of the mythical Sirens luring sailors to their demise, inadequate data analysis can lead businesses down a path of misguided decision-making, hindering their ability to make informed choices and optimize their marketing strategies effectively.

underwater picture of a woman swimming in a mermaid outfit
Everyone knows to avoid the Siren's call!

Imagine a ship disregarding crucial navigation data, tempted by the mesmerizing song of the Sirens, only to find itself off course and vulnerable to unforeseen dangers. Similarly, for small businesses, the neglect of comprehensive data analysis can lead to misguided marketing campaigns and a misallocation of resources, leaving them susceptible to the turbulent waves of uncertainty in the market.

Without a robust and thorough analysis of key business metrics and consumer insights, businesses risk sailing blind, unable to anticipate market trends and customer preferences. This can result in missed opportunities for growth and a significant waste of valuable resources, much like a ship venturing into unknown waters without a reliable map or compass.


To navigate these perilous waters, businesses must prioritize the implementation of effective data analysis tools and strategies, enabling them to decipher the complex patterns and trends within their target market. By leveraging advanced analytics and data visualization techniques, businesses can uncover valuable insights that inform every aspect of their marketing efforts, much like using a sophisticated radar system to detect potential obstacles in the ship's path.

close up image of a weather radar on a modern ship
A KPI Dashboard is your Small Biz Radar!

Moreover, businesses must establish a culture of data-driven decision-making, integrating data analysis into every stage of their marketing strategies and campaign executions. By utilizing data as a guiding beacon, businesses can make informed choices that steer them toward the most promising opportunities for growth and success in the competitive sea of modern commerce.

Much like the radar on a modern ship, one of the best small business navigation tools is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) dashboard. Just like the captain uses his radar to seek out dangers ahead, you can view the health and direction of your business at a glance. We highly recommend Pineapple Consulting Firm for setting up your dashboards.

By steering clear of the Sirens of inadequate data analysis, businesses can chart a course toward a horizon of informed decision-making, leveraging the power of data to optimize their marketing strategies and ensure their journey toward success is guided by clarity and foresight.

Navigating Smooth Waters Ahead

As our journey through effective marketing budget management concludes, it's essential to reflect on the lessons learned and steer your small businesses toward smoother sailing. By addressing the challenges of mishandled leads, misdirected ads, inconsistent branding, overspending on campaigns, poor customer engagement, irrelevant content marketing, and inadequate data analysis, businesses can set a course for success.

Armed with strategies like efficient lead management, comprehensive market research, and cohesive branding, businesses can fortify their marketing approaches. Setting realistic budgets, prioritizing customer engagement, and leveraging data insights can further optimize marketing endeavors, ensuring a competitive edge in the dynamic sea of modern commerce.

Fair winds and following seas to all small businesses charting their course through the intricacies of effective marketing. May your sails remain full, and your journey be one of prosperous growth and achievement.


For those in need of expert guidance through the complexities of effective marketing, Out of the Box Advisors stands ready to be your trusted navigator. Our seasoned team of advisors specializes in helping small businesses chart their course to success, providing tailored coaching and strategies to steer your business toward prosperous growth and sustainable profitability.

Ready to steer your business toward success? Book a Free Small Business Coaching Consultation today (See Below for easy booking!) to set sail on a journey of growth and profitability.

P.S. I kept my inner child at bay and refrained from making a single "Booty" pun... and I am super proud of that! Thank you for reading!

107 views0 comments


bottom of page