How to Divide Your Marketing Pie

By George Farris, CEO, Farris Marketing

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving? Is it getting together with your extended family? The nonstop NFL games? The turkey and mashed potatoes?

One Thanksgiving dessert is at the top of almost everyone’s list of favorites. Pumpkin pie is more of a holiday obsession than a holiday tradition. According to Good Housekeeping, Americans devour an estimated 50 million pumpkin pies every November.

Next to carving the turkey, slicing the pumpkin pie is an important task.  It can be tricky. In fact, Uncle Joe has already queued up for his first slice and you can bet he’ll be back for more.

If you own or manage a small business, Thanksgiving also signals that it’s time to begin to plan for next year. And one of your main tasks is determining how to slice up the marketing pie. Maybe you just wing it. Or try a new strategy every year. But in simplest terms, you’ll need to determine (a) how many ways should you slice it (b) where does each slice go and (c) how big should each slice be?


The first and perhaps the biggest slice of your marketing pie should be focused on the customer experience.

As marketing expert M.T. Fletcher reminds us in a recent article published by Adweek, “Marketers obsess about their latest campaigns but forget consumers build affinity for a brand based on overall experience, only part of which is advertising. The retail experience, the website … customer service … every step along the journey elicits a reaction more powerful than an ad impression.”

Did you catch that? The customer experience is more powerful than advertising. So allocate a big slice of your marketing pie to ensure prospects and customers have a seamless, easy and satisfying time in your online or physical business.

Do you make it easy for customers to make a purchase? What roadblocks are slowing them down? Are questions answered? Reviews and comparisons available?

Invest in better signs and engaging graphics on websites that communicate prices, sales and special offers.

Train employees to treat everyone like family. Invest in a loyalty program. Nothing generates more business than a terrific customer experience.


Once you have customer experience nailed down, you can add slices for digital and traditional media. Cut one slice at a time – test one media choice at a time – before you cut the pie again.


Here is a rule of thumb. For every two or three slices of budget spent on media, cut one slice for creative development and production.

Attention-getting ads, market awareness and higher perceived value generate more long-term business than low prices. You need great creative to stand out. Whether you pay an ad agency or other professionals, your brand and ads must not look and sound like everyone else’s.


You should have about one slice left. And you want to split that slice into (a) customer research and (b) interactive events such as open houses, samplings and social events.

You’ll need to constantly measure and adjust the size of the slices in your marketing pie. Uncle Joe may get a smaller slice one year. Cover it with enough whipped cream and he might not notice.