Cheap Marketing Always Becomes Expensive Marketing


Recently, I reflected on how fortunate I am to have my own business, Elisha Consulting

Yes, there are long nights, constant rejection, and a paranoia that at any moment my business will come crashing down. Yet, there is also this amazing feeling of growing a business with a good friend, Alejandro. Today, we now have 10 clients under contract simultaneously and are doing projects with tech companies in Silicon Valley to startups in Houston. 

I used to tell people, "5 clients at once is my sweet spot." Now, even with 10, I see opportunities for growth. During this expansion, I have met with many business owners and realized something essential to marketing. 

Cheap marketing always becomes expensive marketing. 

Here is what I mean. I have met with companies that cut costs with their marketing and they are now in a bind. Let's look at a few examples. 


Some businesses hire a web developer who does not charge much. A website is thrown together with no thought of the user experience (UX) which leaves a site with no flow or direction. Also, and this is huge, the business is a user! These websites have terrible back-end systems which nobody can update. Then, I am called to "fix" it. Well, I can do that, yet the cost just increased dramatically as they paid the initial developer and now they have to pay me to fix or migrate the site which is more expensive than building from a proper foundation. 


One of the best mentors I had in my MBA program is a marketing legend who has worked for top companies including Coca-Cola, Mattel, and Sega. We had lunch one day and he explained, "marketing is a causal practice, meaning good marketing causes customers to do something." The only way you know if your marketing is working is with detailed metrics.  

The most commonly known stats come from Google Analytics and Facebook Insights in regards to digital campaigns, yet there are other ways to gain valuable metrics. Again, I have seen repeatedly where a business hires an inexpensive marketer and they don't add the proper code to actually track website activity. It was likely unintentional, there was a point I did not know about Google Search Console, I know, barbaric.

The issue comes when it's time to look at baseline metrics for goal setting . . . and they are nowhere to be found as the analytic programs were not set up correctly. 

Go To Market

Here is the one that breaks my heart. I have met many ambitious people who want to start their own business. They have an idea and run with it. Yet, they don't do any research before launching their venture, or maybe it was just basic research. 

They call me and ask if I can help. We sit, and I ask probing questions about the market, competitors, financial projections, and more. They look at me with a blank stare as they have not done those steps, but they do have a logo and website. That's nice, but where is the strategy? How will the business make money? Logos and branding come after the research are completed and a clear strategy is in place. 

This is when I give the bad news and tell them they did everything backward and should focus on a strategy based on research which, you might have guessed it, is expensive. The issue is that the time and money spent on logos, websites, and more might need to be redone once the research demonstrates green is the ideal color for their logo even though they spent money on a blue one. Or worse yet, their business idea might not have a clear path toward profitability.

My least favorite conversations have been with entrepreneurs who spent money on marketing and then hired me to do research to only discover there was no realistic way for them to make money. This routinely occurs in the food business and technology products which might be interesting, but aren't desired by the market. 

How to Avoid Expensive Marketing

Marketing is systematic, and if you want to save yourself money, it's important to do the right things in the right order. I can not overstate the importance of research and strategy before execution. Let's look at my preferred method below. 

  • Discovery

    Many companies move forward with no clear goal of where they would like to go with their business. They usually say, "we want to increase profits!" There are multiple ways to increase profits, the goal must be focused. Is the goal to reach more people, sell more products, increase margins, decrease cost of goods, or something completely different? Profits increase when a clear goal is determined. Refining your goals and marketing efforts should come through discovery research.

  • Strategy

    Once you completed your research, it's time to determine a way to stand out through strategy. Your business falls on a spectrum of an ideal strategy between traditional and contemporary techniques, the focus is to find where you are on that spectrum and create an easy-to-follow strategy to reach your goals.

  • Execution

    Executing successful campaigns will be the result of your dedicated discovery research and strategy. Most people want to jump straight into execution, yet it should wait. Don't worry though, execution is actually the easiest stage when you have spent the time doing the difficult work through your research and strategy.

  • Analytics

    Campaigns do not stop when they are executed. As technology continues to grow in complexity, there is a gap occurring where detailed data is available yet many companies do not know how to utilize it in their marketing campaigns. Use metrics to adapt campaigns for continual improvement. What might have worked a year ago might need to change for greater reach. The important thing is to continually analyze and adapt.

  • Maintenance

    Maintenance is the key to continually increase your customer base. Your marketing should be maintained by updating websites, analyzing conversions, polishing your goals, refining strategies, and gowing in your abiliites to execute.

Don't Skip the Steps

It's easy to not do the hard work. Research and strategy are not as sexy as design, slogans, logos, websites, campaigns and seeing profits. However, it is essential to go in order and complete the necessary steps if you want to be successful and not waste money. 

Too many businesses throw money at bad marketing and then have to spend even more to overcome the mistakes. Simply, go through the steps and avoid cheap marketing or you will pay for it in the long run. 

To prevent those pitfalls, feel free to reach out to me and we can set a time to connect. 

Matt Avery

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