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Forecasting Your Marketing Costs

For Teams of Four and Under


How much will this cost?


The number one question that you need an answer to when you start to enter the world of marketing can be frustratingly difficult to find. It’s not something Google can answer for you, nor can most people outside the industry create a clear, concise way with a hard number attached to it.


When you turn to the people who make a living off of marketing, they can be vague as well. Marketers of all sorts--freelancers, contractors, small agencies, and big agencies promise to answer this question after you’ve listened to their sales pitch and told them what you want to do. And there’s a good reason for that: the professionals simply can’t tell you any sort of number beforehand and they don’t want to underestimate--or overestimate--what you need.


However, you can figure it out on your own if you are willing to put in the time and effort to figure how much it will cost you. The information is out there. It just takes some work and a lot of time to find it on your own. That’s what I’ve distilled for you here.


For the purposes of this article, I focus on small businesses that employ four or fewer people and the strategies, tests, and general marketing tips that work for these businesses on a regular basis. The goal at the end of the article is to enable you, as a reader, to enter or re-enter the marketing world with a better understanding of the way things work.


While this niche is the focus of this breakdown, the general process does hold true for businesses of all sizes and in all sorts of industries. It’s mostly a question of scale and resources available for each individual company. The principles remain the same.


The Basics of Marketing and Their Costs

When you set about marketing on a small scale, you can expect to spend money in four main areas. These are:


  1. Creating a strategy

  2. Testing the ideas

  3. Assembling a long-term plan

  4. Maintaining what works


This is the skeleton of all marketing efforts. For a small business, everything should fall into one of these four steps to save time and money.


Setting up a Facebook page, finding your audience, restarting a blog, writing a case study, creating a content calendar, re-doing your website--each one of those items falls nicely into these categories.


For an initial forecast of the cost, you can estimate that you will spend the most on the first and second points on the above list. You will also see the least initial return from creating a strategy and testing out your ideas.


Unfortunately, this is also the part that is extremely difficult for a third-party to predict.


As a general rule, expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $2k+ on setting up a marketing strategy and your initial round of tests.


That’s before you take into account the amount of time that you’ll need to put into this. Let’s take a look at how much that will cost you.


The Cost of Doing It Solo

Most small businesses and teams of four or fewer people do not need an agency, a marketing team, or even a full-time professional marketer on their staff. What they need and what you may need is the skills, knowledge, and resources of a marketing professional for some period of time or an equivalent.


That equivalent can be found by breaking down the three main categories and their costs


Taking the initial amount of time or delegating the amount of time to a current employee to learn the basics of marketing and the different strategies your business may need to implement,


Plus the time it takes to test these out on your current, former, and prospective customers,


Multiplied by two to take into account the learning curve and the mistakes that will happen,


Equals your projected costs for doing it solo.


Please keep in mind that whatever number you come up with via this process is simply an estimate. Let’s look at an example of the numbers for a simple marketing plan, from scratch, below:


  • Learning the basics of marketing: 5-10 hours

  • Finding different things to try out: 2-5 hours

  • Implementing different strategies in order to reach your customers and prospects: 10-30 hours

  • Doubled to take into account and allow for mistakes and further learning

  • Equals 90+ hours.


Budget concerns aside, that’s a lot of time that someone on your small team needs to find from somewhere. And on a high-performing team, that time probably does not exist.


But the budget doesn't stop there. It never does. So, how much does it take to outsource this project?


The Actual Costs of Outsourcing Your Marketing

What is the actual cost of outsourcing your marketing? Let’s take a look at the different factors of coming up with that number.


  • Your scope of work

  • How much guidance your company needs

  • What your company needs

  • What kinds of results you expect to see


If you want someone to take you from start to finish, that will cost more than hiring someone to post twice a week to your social media pages. If you want to know what you should do, that will cost less than running a full-time blog.


Here are some estimates for different aspects of marketing from a solo professional’s point of view.


  • Creating a simple marketing strategy: $500

  • Running weekly social media posts: $500-$750

  • Running a blog, assuming one post a week: $200

  • Writing a website from scratch: starts at $1,000 at least

  • And much more.


What are Your Options?

Every small team in this situation has three options. The first one is to do it yourself. The second one is to hire individuals to do certain tasks. And the third one is to hire out the complete tasks to somebody who knows what they're doing and can offer you what do you want at a price you can afford.


Which one is right for you? Only you can answer that, and it’s hard to make the right decision. My hope this guide equips you to make the right decision for you and your needs and that you can find new paths to more success.


Here’s to figuring it all out!


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