Since we’ve now published 150 posts — and since they generate a veritable avalanche of cards and letters from our legions of readers — we’re going to share some of them on occasion … because we want to. We tried to think of another reason, but we couldn’t. Here we go:

Dear Mailbag,

I have the budget to advertise aggressively. But I choose not to. Philosophically, I’d rather just run one or two ads a year, selectively, around trade shows. Realistically, advertising doesn’t give me a bang for my buck. Am I on the right track?

Queasy in Point Breezy.

Dear Queasy: If you want a lush, full lawn — and you have the budget to re-seed the entire thing — will you drop a seed or two here or there once every few months? If so, will you expect your lawn to flourish? Will you expect every seed to produce a blade of grass? Your queasiness isn’t about philosophy or realism. It’s about your lack of faith in your own brand. If you define bang for your buck as your phone ringing off the hook, you might consider opening a liquor store or a plumbing business. The demand that makes the former a winner is perennially high. The supply that keeps the latter in demand is unending.

Dear Mailbag,

My company is in a cash crunch because, to create the appearance of being impressive and important, we hired a bunch of senior-level people. The growth of our payroll outpaced the growth of our incremental sales revenues. So, we decided to cut expenses by eliminating marketing. Is this a good idea?

Mr. Magoo.

Dear Mr. Magoo: Yes. This is a great idea, presuming you’d also think it a good idea to stop feeding yourself if you were starving. This vampiric condition is known as Dracula’s Choice. It’s tantamount to sucking the lifeblood out of your company, choosing not to transfuse it, but still expecting it to live. If every one of those senior folks is inspiring awe in new customers, you might remain undead. But if they constitute top-heaviness that outweighs your financial base, try avoiding mirrors and sunlight.

Dear Mailbag,

We attend about 20 trade shows a year, but we never seem to get any meaningful traffic in our booth, we generate few if any leads, and we net no new business. We’ve bought all manner of tchotchkes to entice people to come by. But even the year we were giving away the deed to the Brooklyn Bridge, nobody went for it. Are we doing something wrong?


Dear Dreamy: In cynical circles, insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes. We suggest you try something a tad different: Get every member of your sales team attending a given show — you know, the ones who “don’t like to make cold calls” — to call prospects and invite them to meet during the show, at a particular time, in a particular place, to have the conversations they’re paid to have, without expecting the world to come to them. (Your question reminds us of a movie we saw once about a delusional Iowa corn farmer who heard voices and interpreted them as commands to turn his field into a baseball diamond. When we remember the name of it, we’ll get back to you.)

Dear Mailbag,

I run a firm that develops software for the insurance industry. I see a lot companies creating marketing and advertising campaigns around politically popular things that have nothing to do with their brands, their products, their services, or their value propositions. They adopt things like going green (even though they aren’t); supporting solar and wind power (even if they don’t); saving whales (even if they’re in the midwest); and being in favor of fairnessequality, and social justice (even if they can’t define or defend any of those terms). Should we consider creating a marketing and advertising program based on the theme of going gluten-free?


Dear Trendy: No.

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