I am continually surprised by business owners who haven’t stayed current with marketing trends, techniques, or technology … yet expect to pay pennies to hire a team of people who have invested in continual learning in the craft. (I know – I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am).
I had an email exchange recently with a small company that wants marketing help. They’re B2B software consultants whose average sale is more than $50,000 with a customer lifetime value close to $100,000. (These numbers are necessary for determining your marketing budget – I wrote a post about it on the Duct Tape Marketing blog).
To set the stage for this story, they had answered a question about what they were considering for their marketing budget by telling me about a local newspaper that had pitched awareness advertising. They asked me, “What we could do for $1000 a month?” My answer, edited for brevity, was:
“Let’s start with the question of why you want to build brand awareness. It won’t generate leads unless you spend very, very heavily (like 20K a month). You can’t market your software and related services by spreading the message thinly across everyone who might need something and then hope that someone, somewhere, will connect what you do with what they need.
Your website shows products and services – great if I know what I want, bad if I’m looking to solve a problem. If your goal is to get only people who have gone through an evaluation and already decided what to buy, put up a couple of pages about why they should buy from you and spend your entire budget on the industry paid-lead generation website and Google AdWords and compete on price.
If that isn’t your goal, then in today’s market you must relentlessly focus on a specific type of problem to solve. It could be any of the following problems: [edited]. To market cost-effectively, you must be very specific about who you’re trying to reach and what you can do for them – there’s way too much noise in the market to do otherwise.
To be transparent, $1000 a month doesn’t go far. It buys a small paid social media campaign or organic social and a bit more. You can find lots of people who will sell you services they say will work, but most can’t spell the name of your product and service. I would be doing you (and me) a disservice if I said I thought I could move the needle for you at $1000 a month. If you’re super specific about who you want to reach, we could probably run a small targeted program that would succeed for that amount, but that’s about all (and it would take at least year to show results).
Our average tech consulting/reselling client spends between $4500 and $8500 a month with us, and that isn’t their whole marketing budget. As a point of comparison, a good marketing person – one who understands digital marketing – will cost between $50k (lots of management needed) and $100k (little management needed but they’ll want a budget to work with). That $4500 to $8500 a month I quoted buys a complete digital and strategy marketing team that also creates content, manages the website, and more. I’ll also tell you it's a long game, which is why I ask my clients to figure out the lifetime value of a client. If your customer is worth 60k-100k over their lifetime with you, it’s worth spending 10k to get one. If you want to get six clients a year, plan to spend 60k. (And we’re back to that 5k a month figure). If part of the work we do with you is increasing the lifetime value of that customer, it’s worth spending even more.
Let me break down the main points:
- Know your customer value so you can budget a reasonable cost of customer acquisition.
- If you aren’t investing in learning and staying current on marketing and marketing technology on your team, expect to pay a reasonable rate to someone who is.
- Every marketing “person” has something to sell you that will solve your problem. Most likely, none will.
- The more specific you get, the further your marketing dollar goes.
A tshirt in our office says, “Shitty marketing is cheap, great marketing is priceless.” We live it every day.