We get this question a lot. If you haven't been in business for long or have only dabbled in online marketing, you're no doubt wondering how much you need to spend to "move the needle" and start generating sales. We've been doing inbound marketing for ourselves and quite a few clients over the past two years and online and offline marketing for more than a decade, so we have a good idea of what it takes and what it costs. Let's look at these requirements one by one.
Yes, marketing is expensive, but many companies are realizing positive ROI within one year of beginning marketing operations. Commitment and priority are the crucial elements for any size company, but it's especially true for SMB's and startups, because they tend to be financially challenged and/or focused exclusively on building operations. Without the full scope, as I have outlined it above, you are more likely to grow your sales slowly and incrementally over a longer period, which may cause you to doubt the effectiveness of marketing and abandon it altogether.
Realistically, you should be prepared to commit to a total marketing budget of at least $200K per year if you want to realize the full benefits of integrated or inbound marketing. That should buy you a full-time in-house representative, an inbound marketing agency on retainer, and a reasonable budget for external costs. This number is based on our experience with both successful and not-so-successful clients.
Have you looked at your Marketing Plan lately? If you are raising money to get off the ground or grow your firm, it's time to consider the real costs of marketing and do what you can to make adequate budget available. Yes, you have to have a product before you can sell, but you have to attract customers to stay in business. Companies that fail to get off the ground often forget about marketing or lack the budget to make it effective.
Tell us about your plans for moving the needle.
Photo credit: jurvetson