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Are you wasting money by saving money?


SEO opportunity costs, don’t knock them when they come to the door.

Within 15 minutes of meeting a new business prospect, I can predict how difficult it will be to show them success. The level of difficulty to achieve a positive return from WrightIMC has little to do with the product the prospect is offering or the size of the organization. It’s not about how much money they have, how many years they’ve been marketing their product, or even how “cool” they are or how “hot” their product is.

The key to evaluating a prospect’s likelihood of success is simply their attitude toward opportunity.

Recently, I was reminded that some people still think natural search engine optimization is a way to get cheap or free traffic. Nothing could be further from the truth. The amount of work that goes into an SEO campaign easily costs as much or more than an equivalent paid advertising program. In paid advertising, the money goes into the media spend. When you do SEO, the money goes into the time it takes to build connections through links, write content, correct code, and create conversations via social media. In most cases, the overall costs are a wash.

So a client who says to me, “I don’t want to do paid advertising because it costs too much,” or worse, “I want to increase our SEO opportunity so I don’t have to pay as much on AdWords and Bing,” is not evaluating the opportunities correctly.

I get it – everyone wants to save money. We’ve made a multi-million dollar agency out of helping businesses make the most of their online marketing dollars.

But, every time you cut your marketing budget you lose an opportunity.

I tell every prospect we meet that they should be able to show three times net return with any advertising. If not, the advertising isn’t worth doing.  I go so far as to say that after a certain period of time, if you aren’t seeing that type of return on our services, then you should fire us.

If your marketing is making three times what you spend on it, why would you ever cut your budget unless you don’t want any new business? If it isn’t, then you are probably not doing enough or utilizing the right channels for your business.

One client, in particular, has made me really see the benefits of looking for opportunities instead of cost cuts. This client is the epitome of grabbing every opportunity they can have. They spend lots of money on television, radio, PPC, SEO, content marketing, social media – well, you get the picture. In every single marketing channel, they want to dominate. And they do.  Saving money isn’t the goal – it’s the domination of the channel. And, even though I know there are some inefficiencies in their campaigns, the results are amazing. Domination with advertising frequently translates to domination in sales. This client is at least three times larger than their nearest competitor – and they’ve been in business half as long as most of their competition.

If you are more worried about your spend efficiency than your overall share of voice, you’re looking at things backwards.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t find efficiencies in all of your channels. You should always test, re-test, and then test again to find the optimal way to efficiently dominate a channel. But efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean saving money.

Advertising – whether it be SEO or television – still is about reach times frequency. Radio, television, and print provide links and authority that boost SEO. The paid and natural search close the deal. It all works together. Your overall success rarely hinges on one advertising channel. And if it does, you are just an algorithm change or ratings decline away from failure. You probably need to diversify your marketing success.

Businesses should be more worried about making money than saving money when it comes to advertising. Too many people who walk through our door have the mindset that if they save money on their advertising, they will be better off. In reality, they are limiting their long-term potential in order to save a few bucks in the short-term.

How do you view advertising opportunities? Do you worry more about missed sales or advertising budgets? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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