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I hate sunk costs, and I found some when I cleaned out my storage unit in 2018. I found two boxes of nice square BCG brochures and a bag of metal lapel pins. One of the boxes had a packing slip that showed the brochures were produced on…July 21, 2005.

I remembered using some of these brochures in my marketing, but I never used the pins. I counted a total of 805 brochures I didn’t use. The bag of pins contained exactly 100 pins, so I didn’t use any of them.

Recently my bank offered me a business credit card, and I took them up on the offer in part so I could use these marketing pieces. But how?

I hate sunk costs but I found a way to recover some of them


I decided to use them to promote BCG’s 25th anniversary and offer discounts. I worked with a friend to create a cover letter that told people how I learned from my marketing mistakes over the years. Recipients got a discount off BCG services just for receiving the envelope. Some received an additional discount if they had a BCG pin in the envelope.

I chose to send the brochures to all Folsom Chamber of Commerce members. I also sent about 40 envelopes to select members of the Amador County Chamber of Commerce. Mike Stefanelli at Automate Mailing managed the process.

So far, the mailing has resulted in:

  • Three envelopes returned to me.
  • One nice e-mail from a recipient who said she already has a website designer and wished me well.
  • Two boxes out of my home office closet.

My mail carrier delivered two of those envelopes to me and not the addressees in Jackson by mistake, so I delivered those envelopes personally.

I’m not concerned about the lack of response because the mailing is just the first step in this marketing campaign. What’s more, I gave recipients until November 22 (my birthday) to take advantage of the discounts. So, I’ll send e-mail messages to recipients over the next six weeks. I plan to give the remaining returned envelope as a raffle prize at the October Amador Chamber of Commerce mixer, weather (and air quality) permitting.

My business credit card also let me complete some long-planned business tasks. Last month my business became a limited liability company. This month I filed three trademarks for my business name, logo, and Amador County business news website. I also became a limited liability company in California.

An Unexpected Checkup

Once I finished all that work, I received a message on LinkedIn from Jamie Houston at Northwestern Mutual. My colleague and attorney Mauriah Conway referred Jamie to me. I took advantage of the opportunity to review my financial situation and goals with Jamie. I concluded our online call happy that a professional told me that I’m on the right track financially.

Now I start autumn 2019 feeling that I’m (almost) ready for 2020. My business is better protected, I’m marketing my business for the new year, and my financial outlook is healthy. And though I hate sunk costs, I like recovering those costs to some degree.

How are you feeling as we close in on 2020?