What does your marketing really cost?

Adrian Blake of Social Media Contractors recently wrote an excellent post about the true cost of running a social media program. His point: what else could you be doing with the time you are spending on your social media programs and would that time be more profitably spend on other activities.

His point was not that you should not be utilizing social media — rather you should make smart choices on where you spend your time.

This doesn’t just apply to social media; it applies to any marketing activity a small-to-medium business person undertakes. Yes, you can run your own Adwords campaign. You can do your own e-mail deployment. Heck, you can do all the coding on your website, becoming an expert in javascript, PHP, HTML and all the other languages needed for a robust site.

But the question to ask is “What aren’t I doing while I’m spending my time on [paid search, email marketing, etc.] and would I make enough money to pay someone to do this for me?” Could you be developing a new product? Meeting with clients/customers? Producing more goods?

There are very few businesses that can’t benefit from marketing. Developing a good marketing plan is key. You will need the plan whether you are executing it yourself or bringing in someone to do it for you. Measurement is also important. Once you start executing your marketing plan make sure you can tell which tactics are successful and which need to be switched out for something else.

Continual testing is important. This does not mean that half of your marketing budget needs to be spent trying new things. Executing good tests take time, and time is money. But dedicate a small portion of your marketing budget to tests. Things are changing very quickly; what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow (and may not even be working today).

Don’t be afraid to bring in experts. A task may be able to be completed in one or two hours by someone with experience but take you one or two days to complete. Yes, there will be a cash outlay, but if the task was a good enough idea that you were willing to spend days completing it, the payoff from bringing in an expert is probably well worth the investment.

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