Fall is upon us! I celebrated by throwing my front porch flowers away. This might sound like a pessimistic way to celebrate the season but in doing so I was reminded of how much I loved my flowers. We have a big front porch and each spring I immediately check off my gardening for the season by going to Lowes and buying a couple of moss or coco-fiber hanging baskets of flowers. That’s it. That’s as green as my thumb gets beyond watering them each day.

Based on the advice of a helpful garden center employee, I also deadhead them regularly. For those unfamiliar (as I was) this simply means removing dead flower heads from a plant to encourage further blooming. In thinking about this practice, it seems that many could benefit from deadheading their marketing as well.

The Overgrown Marketing Plan

In our current fast-paced, constantly evolving digital marketing ecosystem, it’s easy to fall prey to shiny new things. New social networks. New features. New features on new social networks. Oooooh! Shiny! “Look at what you can do on Snapchat now!”

That’s not to say that these innovations aren’t amazing. They are. The danger is when we start engaging in checklist marketing. Doing everything — engaging on every social network and creating every form of content — as if they were arbitrary items on some checklist. In fact, I would wager to say that most of us have an item or two in our marketing mix that isn’t working. Or isn’t working as well as it could be.

These non-working marketing channels further get in the way as they tie up valuable resources that could be used elsewhere — either on a new channel or in optimizing an existing channel for better performance.

Like the expired bud taking up space and preventing new blooms, we need to deadhead our marketing regularly to encourage growth.

Optimizing for Growth

Deadheading your flowers is easy. (1) Find the dead bud. (2) Pop its head off. (3) Smile when the new bud appears. Deadheading your marketing is a little harder. The dead flower bud is easy to identify because it’s … well, dead. Nonfunctional marketing is harder to spot because it’s predicated on knowing what the channel was supposed to do in the first place.

If this sounds laughable, it’s not. As much as marketers are changing tactics today, we’re increasingly flying blind on strategy. The most recent data from the Content Marketing Institute shows us that while more and more of us are creating more content than ever before, 63% lack a documented strategy.

In order to know if your marketing is working, you have to know what it’s supposed to be doing. As Peter Drucker famously said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Once you have objectives that your marketing is supposed to be meeting, you can quickly assess what’s doing the job and what’s falling short.

Now here’s the scary part. To deadhead your marketing you have to do one simple thing from here. Stop doing the stuff that isn’t working. Again, you may be laughing but I’ll bet most of us are wasting resources on marketing that isn’t working. Stop. If there’s one axiom I know to be true it’s there’s not a marketer out there who can afford to do everything. So stop.

For smarter marketing — to do more of what works — you may need to start by doing less. Focus your resources on what’s working and deadhead the rest if you want your marketing and your business to grow.