Does Your Business Know the True Cost of Marketing?

Here are 7 questions I suggest you ask at least once a year. Look in the mirror and answer honestly, because those answers really do matter.
09/30/2014 02:53 pm ET Updated Nov 30, 2014

Hey business leaders and marketers... Does anyone really know what he or she is spending on marketing and how effective it is? Can I see a few raised hands?

Okay - I know that we cannot see the hands raised or not raised; nor can we see who those people are or understand why they raised their hands. As a marketer, I think about the cost of marketing every day I walk into the office. Every list I make, every strategy I plot, every brief I write and every presentation I create all point toward Increasing brand exposure where I need it most. But how in the world do I know what marketing really costs and if it is working?

Ugh!

Big Data - Nope

If you're thinking big data is the answer, stop. I know what big data is and why it is so important to us marketing professionals. In my opinion, it is not the silver bullet to solving our dilemma of figuring out the hidden cost of marketing. It is an awesome way to provide a clear indication of who our customer is and where they are in the sales funnel. That data is priceless. But can it help us figure out costs? Not really.

Is There Something Hiding?

Here are a few things that float through my mind on a weekly basis. All of them cost money in some way, shape or form. Two of them are hidden and both of those could be the most damaging to your marketing budget, morale, productivity and sales. See if you can identify which two are the secrets killers.

• Media Mix / Media Buys
• Content Creation and Production
• Opportunity Costs
• Tools To Create
• Labor To Create
• Misused Talent
• Digital Experience

Look In The Mirror

Here are 7 questions I suggest you ask at least once a year. Look in the mirror and answer honestly, because those answers really do matter. Don't wink at yourself thinking you have it all covered. Chances are you won't be so lucky. When I first came up with these seven questions, if I were to quiz myself, I would have failed.

• Out of the seven listed above, which ones do you have most control over?
• Which ones are you pleased with the amount of dollars allocated to that area?
• Which ones are out of control or heading in that direction?
• Are any of these not aligned with your marketing strategy?
• Are you truly assessing the efficiencies or inefficiencies of your marketing?
• What tools should your team use that you are not using currently?
• Is your digital footprint where it needs to be? Why? Why Not?

If you made it this far, congratulations! You're at least trying to figure out how to be more strategic as a marketing leader. Here's my perspective on the hidden cost dilemma. Opportunity costs and misused talent are two that I have experienced in my career that are commonly not considered when the cost of marketing is factored. My suggestion is to take a hard look at both of these to help you really figure out the secret cost. Believe it or not, when you do get close to figuring out what that cost is, the reality will help you determine a plan of action for adjustments.

This process will also provide a new perspective so you can function your marketing department more efficiently. At the end, you will smile because you found the hidden dilemma that most do not take the time or effort to figure out. Congratulations, they keys to unlocking your true marketing potential and discovering your true marketing costs are right in front of you. Now all you have to do is spend some time digging around to find the answer.