Home >> Can Local Businesses Afford Marketing?

Can a South African business really afford to do marketing or are the costs simply too high, the benefits too low and the shortage of qualified professionals making marketing in South Africa simply too overpriced?

I find there are two issues here. On the one hand are agencies/experts that are horribly overpriced and then there are agencies/experts that offer everything for what seems like an early Christmas. Both of them ruin the market. Finding an agency that charges a reasonable fee for good work is literally like finding a needle in a haystack but I can assure you, they exist.

Marketing campaigns can be cost prohibitive. Especially when faced with agencies which pull the proverbial ring out of their customers. We spend a great deal of time talking to smaller business about how marketing online is a much more cost effective avenue only to be shocked into reality by “social media guru’s” and “online marketing specialists” who evidently charge a little more than an arm and a leg for their services.

The negativity that is bred in these customers is sad really. They’re almost too scared to get another opinion and because they were talking to “Experts” and “Guru’s” they imagine that if anyone charges them less they probably just won’t do the job properly. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is to stay away from people and agencies with self-appointed titles like “Social Media Guru”. It’s an ever changing landscape which means you’re learning something new all the time. Mastering something that evolves as fast as the internet is virtually impossible.

Online marketing is not as scary as these people make it out to be. It takes a lot of time and dedication to make it work. Someone who works in this arena all the time has access to information and tools that a business owner might not have so having someone hold your hand through the process and offer sound advice is definitely beneficial. Just not at any price.

What about the agency that charges next to nothing for their services? You get what you pay for and if you opt to pay nothing don’t be surprised if you get nothing. They ruin online marketing for a huge portion of businesses because the companies that usually opt for these types of agencies are the guys who never believed online marketing would work in the first place. Their thinking is along the lines of “I’ll just throw a little bit of money at this and then if it doesn’t work at least I’ve not lost too much”. That’s not how it works. That’s not how any advertising works.

Building a reputation in the eyes of your customers takes time and consistency. If you appear sporadically to your clientele then psychologically they develop a mistrust of your brand. Here today, gone tomorrow. If you don’t have enough capital to do the job properly then you should rather save it for when you’re serious about making an investment in your brand.

I have often come across clients that feel the services of a marketing agency should cost approximately what they pay teachers in South Africa. I’m not terribly surprised since I believe teachers are horribly underpaid as are many of the smaller agencies. I dream of being in a meeting one day with an overpriced agency and a stingy client. It will be short but worth it just to see the facial expressions.

What’s the moral of the story? Shop around, see what’s on offer from a variety of agencies and you may just find that diamond in the rough you’ve been looking for.

Next week we'll look at the signs that indicate you're not going to get what you're looking for.


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