How Much Should Marketing Cost?

working online

working online

by Yvonne DiVita

I was talking to an entrepreneur the other day who was lamenting on the fact that marketing was not her forte, and she had no clue on how to hire someone with experience to do her marketing for her. We talked about her business, mostly online supporting a local group, and how it wasn’t performing as well as she’d like.

“I just don’t know how to market,” she said. “I’m coming to the conclusion that I’ll have to hire someone.”

“That’s probably a good idea,” I told her. “When there’s a business task you’re really poor at, the first step is recognizing that you need outside help. Where would you begin to look for a marketing professional?”

She faltered. “I don’t know,” she said in a small voice.

“Ok,” I replied. “What’s your budget?”

“Well,” she continued in that small voice. “I was thinking about $300.”

That’s where the conversation took a big turn. A really big turn. It’s amazing to me that this otherwise delightful, smart, talented woman thought she could hire a marketing professional, not just someone to create a Facebook ad or set up Google ads on her blog, a PROFESSIONAL for a few hundred dollars. A week? A month? A year?

Turns out it was for – a one-time campaign.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve seen a good bit of advice on how to be an entrepreneur and what tasks you need to perform to make your new business a success. Marketing is one of them. If it’s a task you are terrible at, I recommend finding someone else to do it. That someone else should have experience in it. That someone else should be able to show results. That someone else will expect to be paid.

Paying for services, especially professional services designed to increase business or improve customer relations, is an important part of entrepreneurial success. Asking people to work for free, is not. Understand that payment can be in the form of shares in the company; deferred compensation; or a blend of those options. It does not have to be cash up front, employee status, or a big bonus in lieu of weekly compensation. Offering something builds respect and trust, and lets the person you’re hoping to take on that task you’re so bad at, know their work is valued. Nobody wants to put in time, sharing expert talent without getting something in return.

The woman I was talking to over coffee was serious about the cost of marketing. It was her budget, after all. The problem is – she wasn’t facing reality. She wasn’t putting a true value on the cost of marketing and the necessity of marketing. Sometimes, reality trumps budget.

This is where you get creative, using some of the options mentioned here, but also looking at other opportunities. Tap into your local business college for interns or seniors on the verge of graduating – who won’t mind helping you in order to get the experience and add the task to their resume. Join women’s groups and tap into the collective knowledge offered there. Be pro-active. Be visible. Learn by doing.

In the end, marketing is necessary. Give it the value it deserves and be prepared to pay what it’s worth.

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  1. You are so right Yvonne. One of my colleagues often states that as long as an input generates considerably more value for your company than it costs, you should be willing to pay the price. Good marketing does that.


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