Remember Burger King’s “Whopper Virgins” advertising campaign? The commercials brought flame-grilled burgers to people in far-off locales. Burger King since has launched equally unconventional campaigns, including “Whopper Sacrifice” (which encouraged Facebook users to de-friend 10 people in exchange for a free burger) and “King” (which [The Atlantic] called “horrible” and “creepy”).

In March, the fast food giant parted ways with its longtime ad agency “after producing Facebook campaigns and viral videos that got lots of attention while the business witnessed six consecutive quarters of declining sales,” points out global brand strategist, author, and columnist Jonathan Salem Baskin in [Advertising Age]. “…If social marketing can’t be made responsible for tangible behaviors that matter to the business … then no made-up measures of its importance matter much at all.”

That’s what Shawn Collins, founder and CEO of the EXTEND GROUP, tells the clients of his Evansville-based interactive marketing communication and technology solutions company. “Technology is only smart if you apply it in the right place,” he says. Before your business invests in a marketing strategy, Collins recommends discussing the following questions with a marketing professional:

Who is the end consumer?
For example, if you oversee marketing for a nursing home, it makes little sense to pour money into developing extensive social media campaigns and iPhone apps. But for businesses whose core demographic is tech-savvy Generation Y, those options may be a good bet.

How do they use technology?
Think beyond the present and consider how your customers will adapt to change. Also, how will your business expand over the long term? Will you require a greater use of technology in the future?

What do they read?
The president of a transportation logistics company may subscribe to online trade publications and e-mail newsletters, while a 40-something millionaire may be more likely to notice an investment company’s banner ad in a mobile web app like The Wall Street Journal or Inc.

The biggest mistake of all, Collins says, is forging ahead without a plan. “In today’s economy,” he says, “if you don’t have a plan and you’re throwing money at something you can’t sustain, it’s a bad use of the company’s hard earned money.”