Does size really matter?

By Wally Conway

Of course size matters! If size didn’t matter you would never measure anything.

But, is bigger really better? Or, is less actually more? Is there really such a thing as “right sized”?

Truth be told, it depends on what you’re measuring and the consequence of that thing being the wrong size.

Let’s isolate the size question to one that matters mightily to you as a small business owner, the size of your marketing budget. What size should your marketing budget be?

A common size often bantered about is 10 percent of gross revenue. That’s a really nice method. What makes it nice is that you can calculate it in your head and it makes the rest of the story easy to tell.

But it’s probably the wrong number in your business. Because, like so many simple solutions, this one leads to more difficult questions.

For example, is that 10 percent of present gross revenue? Or, 10 percent of desired gross revenue? Ohhhhhh … that’s interesting to ponder.

If your marketing budget is 10 percent of present gross, should you expect business growth? If your business grows, and you keep your marketing budget fixed, will your business continue to grow, go flat or shrink?

Imagine if you will that all of your customers are gathered together in a single place. Wait a minute. In fact, your customers really are all gathered together in a single place, your market area!

Now imagine if you will that the only thing between you and every customer in your market area is a wall. But the wall is impenetrable. So, the only way to get to all the customers in your market area is with a ladder to get over the wall.

Yep, since the dawn of time, the best way to get over a wall has been with a ladder. Nothing is simpler or more efficient.

Capturing the wallet of every customer in your market area will make you wealthy. You know that to be true. But, you also know it to be true that you’re not a ladder or wall scaling expert, so you enlist the services of a ladder selection expert.

After a careful study of the wall and keen knowledge of all available ladders your ladder guru delivers to you the specifications for the ladder needed to scale the wall to your fortune. It’s 20 feet long and costs $1,000.

You’re surprised at the length of the ladder, the wall does not appear to be near that tall. And your appalled at the price of the ladder, $1,000 for a ladder … how can that be?

But, then you remember, you’ve got a ladder in your garage. You already own an 8’ ladder. It’s a great ladder. You love your ladder, you’re comfortable with your ladder.

So, excited at the prospect of capturing customers, you place your ladder against the wall and climb to the top. But you cannot get over the wall. No customers for you!

Undaunted, you find a 15’ ladder for only $100. Back to the wall, up to the top….still no customers for you.

It’s at this point that you begin to believe that there are no customers beyond the wall or that ladders are not the way to get over walls. You cannot afford to think this way.

You will never get over the wall to capture customers if your ladder is too short! If you need a 20’ ladder, but get sold a 25’ ladder, at least you get over the wall and can capture customers.

And so it is with all marketing and media. To test market with too small a sample is to ensure that no customers are captured. But, the real risk isn’t that you don’t capture customers, it is that you doubt the marketing will work.

You can never over spend on a good marketing idea. But, if you under spend on a good marketing idea, it will appear to be a bad idea. You will not be able to tell that it was good, because you did not have a long enough ladder to get over the wall to capture the customers…and their wallets!

Make the calculated mistake, over spend on your marketing. You cannot test a good idea with too small a sample, but you can reduce the spend after you know what works.

After 20 years in business, and consulting with some of the most respected minds in marketing, I’ve come to the conclusion that you cannot predict marketing outcomes with certainty, but you can be certain that you can’t get over the wall to capture customers if your marketing ladder is too short!

wallyWally Conway is a graduate of the U.S Naval Academy, President of HomePro Inspections, Hosts the Home & Garden Radio Show on WOKV and author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller “Home Inspection Secrets of The Happy Home Inspector”. He can be reached at

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