St. Petersburg (Fla.)

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

Human habits can sure be inconvenient for companies that want to properly attribute sales to marketing efforts. For instance, when consumers watch a direct response television spot and decide to respond via the Web, they may not use that catchy URL. Viewers may, instead, use a search engine to type in the company name, the product or service name, or the most memorable phrase from the commercial.

An old marketing guideline states that it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to sell something to an existing customer. Given the current recession and the skittishness of consumers to part with cash, the current acquisition cost ratio may well be 10 times or more.

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