Sooner or later, most entrepreneurs have to face the reality that marketing is expensive. In the course of planning a new marketing campaign or trying to grow the business organically, you discover that to execute a strategy could cost thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars, and to keep it going will cut into your bottom line.
Why is marketing so expensive? And is it really worth the cost?
Let’s start by explaining why marketing is so expensive. Generally, marketing costs account for things like:
It should also be obvious that different types of strategies will differ in price. Depending on your approach, marketing could end up being very cheap or ridiculously expensive, often based on variables that include:
One of the most important factors you’ll need to consider when budgeting for and planning your marketing campaign is your return on investment (ROI). In other words, how much value are you getting out of your campaign compared to what you’re putting into it?
In many cases, you won’t be able to concretely measure your ROI until you actually launch the campaign. However, you might be able to come up with a reasonable estimate that’s based on your past experience and the knowledge and experience of the professionals you’re working with.
Your ROI matters more than the absolute dollar amount you’re spending. For example, let’s say in campaign A, you spend $500 and generate $1,000 in revenue. But in campaign B, you spend $1,500 and generate $5,000 in revenue. Campaign B is objectively more expensive, but it also yields a much higher ROI, both proportionally and in total amount.
Because of this, you should never rule out the possibility of a campaign just because it’s expensive.
We also need to consider the prospect of running a business without a marketing campaign. There are examples of businesses that have gotten successful without traditional marketing or advertising (including famous examples like AriZona Iced Tea). However, without marketing, you’ll be exclusively growing your business through word of mouth and reputation, which can take a long time and can be extremely unreliable. For most businesses, marketing and advertising are practically necessary for steady growth.
Is an expensive marketing campaign worth the seemingly excessive costs? The issue is far too complicated to reduce to a simple answer. However, in many cases, there are plenty of justifications for the high cost of marketing, and if you execute a reasonable campaign, you should be able to get a high ROI and more than make all your money back. Although some types of businesses can get away with little to no marketing, most companies will strongly benefit from a marketing investment — even if it looks costly on paper.