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Social Media Pricing by the Pothole
I find that a lot of people are curious about breaking down marketing services like social media and search engine optimization to an hourly rate. I know this, because a lot of people search the Internet for pricing information and find me.
Silly me, I don’t have a standard rate sheet, but I will tell you why. I don’t know how much it will cost to perform SEO or social media marketing until I know what a company wants and needs from the services.
I understand the concern of marketing cost. After all, the reason for a company to spend money on marketing is to achieve a higher profit. This means the cost of marketing will be a factor. However, it is too common that the only set of numbers a client will clearly understand is the outgoing money, while they ignore the more important numbers such as accurate projections, goals, and increased profit.
The cost of marketing is not the same for any two projects, because the associated tasks are as different as the company itself. More importantly, marketing is something which spans the life of a company, and not just a set of tasks that are finished in a set number of hours. If you shop for marketing by seeking to buy a set of tasks, then you are essentially dictating a job, rather than letting the professional do the work they are trained to perform.
Reasons Marketing Cost Varies, and Menu Pricing Fails
Menu style pricing works great for some marketers, but it can create a huge disaster for the client. I don’t have time to list all the reasons the cost of marketing can vary widely, and you don’t have the time to read that list. I’ll give you a few points to consider.
Some companies will have well-formed projections of their market potential, and some will have already done the research to know how many people they must reach to achieve their goals. Some will have a targeted marketing strategy already prepared, and most will need help improving it. Some will have already performed A/B testing to determine their optimal conversion rate. Some will have creative ideas for their marketing, and even have talented people to help implement it.
Some companies have all of these things in place, but this is often not the case. Instead, I find that they come to me asking me to do whatever it is I do, without really even knowing what needs to be done. Then, without understanding the tasks, or reasons for them, they want a shortcut answer to “How much does it cost?“
The question of how much it will cost, without a clear idea of what is needed, or what will actually improve your return on investment is an easy way to waste money and time doing the wrong things. It is like shopping for a dentist by seeking the cheapest price for a filling while what you really need is a root canal. Worse yet, it is like telling the dentist how to perform the filling, and asking for a discount because you used less Novocaine. With that kind of thinking, should there really be any wonder why most marketing fails?
Dictating Social Media Tasks is Like Telling Your Cab Driver to Swerve for Giraffes
Would You Buy a Cab Ride Priced by the Pothole?
It makes me wonder how many companies pay their building lease by the hour. What if they booked flights by the mile? Would you pay extra to fly around a storm? Would you tell the pilot which way to fly, or would you rely on the professional?
Some things just don’t sensibly calculate in the terms we think they should, or wish they would. It is not always because somebody is trying to hide an obscene profit. Many times, it is because the cost would be outrageously high to account for each item granularly. Imagine trying to account for a cab ride that includes a charge for every time the cab hits a pothole and gets a little closer to needing a new set of tires or shocks. Should stopping for traffic signals cost more to account for the brake wear, or should we burn more gas and take the longer route to avoid them?
The challenge for a lot of people to realize is that the cost of any product or service will be built into the price. The cab driver will need to receive more money for his job than what it cost him, so he sets his pricing and maintains his car to optimize his earnings. If you asked him to itemize each thing, you would have to pay him for that extra time he is doing accounting instead of driving his cab. If your driver lets you blindfold him and direct him how to drive, you are both foolish.
My point here is to express how easy it is to make mistakes when shopping for and comparing services in an unfamiliar industry. In the industry of online marketing, if you pay for somebody to account for every hour, you will likely pay a lot more for the extra accounting.
Then again, I guess I shouldn’t complain if somebody wants to pay me for the hours I lie in bed at night staring at the ceiling as I ponder how I can make them more successful tomorrow than yesterday.
Costa Rican Pot Hole! by Arturo Sotillo via Flickr
Cone & Pot hole by oknidius via Flickr
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