overwhelmed woman at desk with paperwork

Why Free Marketing Isn’t Actually Free

4 min read |  Posted Jun 29, 2021

“A Dollar Saved is a Dollar Earned.” I can remember being told this many times over the years and taking it to heart. I reveled in finding a great deal and knowing how to do things on my own but what I lacked was knowing when that dollar saved meant many lost hours. 

One year at the beginning of the holiday season, I showed my husband the most beautiful wreath to which he replied, “Just buy the wreath, it’s only $30.” To which most wives would happily comply. But no, not me. Not frugal me. I declared that I would create my own wreath out of the millions of pinecones laying in my front yard. 

Seriously, take a look at this thing. So many pine cones!

Two weeks, $25 dollars, and 3 frustrating hours later, I presented the most pitiful wreath to my husband. And even though he hung it on our front door with a smile, every time I saw that thing it was a reminder of how I wasted a whole afternoon. And only saved $5.

Running short on time? Check out the Marketing Minute Video!

So when does crafty turn into just a waste of time?

When your time is spent doing tasks that detract from revenue generating activities you’re wasting time. Being aware of your time spent on tasks is vital and can be quite revealing to see where you and your team are actually spending it. 

Consider this, in the beginning of 2020 our team began the process of auditing our budgeted hourly rate. Since we hadn’t tracked time up to that point, this involved us providing best guesses on how many hours each week we spent in a variety of areas in the business, from print design & prep, time at print equipment, client communications, developing proposal, to website development, and a whole slew of other tasks.

But since we provided our best guesstimates our initial new budgeted hourly rate felt off. So in May 2020 we began tracking time using 15 minute increments. We did this for 6 months and by the time we concluded in October, the results were revealing. In one area we grossly overestimated the time spent at print equipment and severely underestimated our time spent on administrative tasks.

What we learned was that we needed to optimize our administrative based processes because they were distracting us from focusing on revenue generating activities. We accomplished this by changing key software we use to manage clients and re-train on existing software so we could utilize them better. 

The end result was outstanding. While we did increase our recurring expenses, the benefit of reorganizing, centralizing and restructuring ended up in us being able to concentrate on key projects. It even allowed us to send proposals out for larger, more complex projects. 

When should a business attempt marketing on their own?

Assumption would say, When your time is spent doing tasks that detract from revenue generating activities. But it isn’t always that simple.

If you’re in a situation where your budget can be compared to a teenager’s bedroom, a hot mess, you need to first look inward. What’s causing that budget to be out of whack? My best advice is to do what my team did. Track where time is being spent, along with the money. This way you can truly see where refinement is needed.

While your business is doing this, it may be a good time to keep their marketing in-house. The hidden benefit of this is you can actually create a preliminary marketing budget based on how much time/money is being spent by your team internally.

When should a business hire a marketing company?

The best time to hired a marketing company or professional is when you have a clear budget and goals. While things can be done on nearly any budget it’s the goals that are most important because it brings clarity. How will success be measured?

And that is what marketing teams do for your business. We help you focus on what’s important and help you achieve the results you need most. So when you’re looking to grow your business your search should start with marketing agencies near me and begin the conversation about how to start the best marketing campaign for your business.

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or want to take the next step, let’s chat — in person or virtually.

PS. Oh and if you’re ever in any need for some prime quality pine cones… let me know. I have plenty. 😉