One of the most famous marketing related quotes is: "I know half my advertising isn't working, I just don't know which half." This is an old cliché but it’s astonishingly accurate. Advertising is both expensive and hard to measure, so before you rush off and spend a fortune on a campaign, pause to consider some of the forgotten rules of marketing and advertising.

Rule 1: Don't advertise to yourself.

TV campaigns might appeal to you because your friends mention your ad all the time, so you logically assume that the campaign must be working, but it's not about you or your mates. Advertising appeals to the mass market, but the mass market is made up of individuals, and what appeals to one person might not appeal to another. Do your research, understand your target market, and listen closely to your customers, not to your friends. Customers are the ones buying your products, so they hold all the power. Treat them with respect. Why shout at them about your latest offers if you wouldn’t appreciate being shouted at yourself?

Rule 2: Give customers what they want, not what they need.

People no longer buy what they need, because their needs have already been fulfilled. Anyone can buy an accurate watch for $50, and a more expensive watch isn’t a more precise watch. So why do people regularly spend thousands of dollars on watches? The reason is simple, they aren’t buying the time; they’re buying something else that has value to them. Rolex, Breitling and TAG know what their customers want and it’s definitely not the time. Always give your customers what they want.

Rule 3: Social media isn’t as cool as you think.

Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have become something of a Holy Grail to many brands but are these settings actually working for them? Social media, by its very definition, is a social environment, which means that this space comes with all the untethered psychology and wackiness of a bachelor party. Sometimes businesses have no right to be in this environment. Imagine the uproar if someone from Harvey Norman gatecrashed a social occasion like a wedding and tried to sell TVs while the bride was walking down the aisle. That’s how it can feel on Facebook sometimes. 

The truth is that most people don’t want to hear about your prices, offers or interest rates when they’re watching a video of their cousin’s new baby. In fact, they most likely don’t want to hear from you at all. A recent German study of 600 people, found rampant envy thriving on Facebook. Researchers found that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives. They found men aged in their mid-30s were most likely to envy family happiness while women were more likely to envy physical attractiveness. That’s something to ponder the next time you plan to launch a product on Facebook. Consider what your business should really be saying when it comes to social media. When done right, social works. Do it wrong however, and it will harm your brand. 

Rule 4: Never forget the numbers.

Always remember that advertising has to generate sales or it’s worthless. So what are you doing to measure the effectiveness of your advertising? A century ago, advertising agencies measured everything. They would even measure how changing one word in a headline impacted on sales, and when they found the winning formula, they stuck to it. In today’s frenetic business world, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of one word but everything counts. So find a way to measure how people are responding to what you do. For example, are calls to your 0800 number increasing, and if so, why? They could be up because your nearest competitor is out of stock, but it’s most likely not going to be that simple. You need to know what works and what doesn’t, right down to the smallest detail. If your agency doesn’t buy into relentless measurement, then find one that does. It’s the most important thing you can do.

Rule 5: Don't panic.

This should be the first rule of being a member of the human race but apparently; panicking is an acceptable substitute for forethought, contingency planning or actually taking action. However, panic is an appalling coping mechanism. Every business goes through a dip, even Apple failed with the Newton, but they got over it and so can you.