When you’re first starting a new business – or looking to scale and expand an existing venture – there’s a lot of expenses. You quickly find that nothing comes cheap – nothing good anyway – and have to fork out a lot of cash for all kinds of requirements: premises, equipment, utilities, accountants, staff, and of course, marketing.

Is marketing a cost?

There’s always an initial outlay on marketing for any new or growing business. And then there’s the on-going cost to market and promote your products or services.

It can quickly seem like you’re paying a lot of money for your marketing like you’re just throwing cash at a wall to see what sticks. But that’s probably because you’re not valuing marketing in the right way.

See also: Measure to grow: The importance of figures in marketing

Marketing isn’t a cost. It’s not something that – when done correctly – is detrimental to your business. It’s beneficial.

And while it might cost you initially, good marketing will help you reap the benefits long-term. That’s why you should look at each aspect of marketing as an opportunity.


The first opportunity you have with your business lies in your brand. The importance of a strong brand – a recognisable identity – can never be underestimated.

It makes your business what it is. It helps you stand out among your competitors. It gets you noticed. And it ensures your customers remember you.

See also: Is your brand up to scratch?

Having a strong brand gives you the opportunity to connect with so many customers, now and for a long time into the future. Almost indefinitely. Contemplate all those sales opportunities, just because someone knows, recognises, or likes your brand.

Surely that’s worth spending a bit of money on to make sure you get it right?

Top tip: Keep things simple and start with a good name and a recognisable logo.

Website design and build

The next area of essential marketing is your website. This is probably your first opportunity to really impress your potential customers – get them hooked, show off what you do, and convince them to buy from you.

There’s no use having a great brand if you don’t have a good website to support it. And there’s no sense spending on advertising to send your customers to a terrible web page.

A website then is an opportunity for you to speak with your customers and make the case for your product or service. It really is invaluable, because it’s likely to be one of the core areas that makes you money.

See also: The basics of building a website

Therefore, don’t think about it as a cost, instead think about how all those different areas and different functionalities in the design and build can help generate more revenue you for.

Is it an extra £500 to add a blog? Perhaps, but that blog gives you flexibility to put all kinds of information out to your customers and help convince them to buy.

Is it twice the price to have your website mobile responsive? Maybe, but you’ll probably find at least half of your customers use their phones rather than a computer, so can you afford to miss out on their business?

Top tip: If budgets are tight, focus on the essentials your website needs to make you money but plan on adding the other ‘opportunities’ at a later date.

Advertising materials

Printed brochures and flyers can seem like an expensive outlay. Some marketing folk might tell you they’re pointless when everyone lives in a digital world.

We disagree, we think they’re a great opportunity to try, and they have huge potential in the rural sector. They might not work for you but then again, they just might.

See also: Is advertising right for my business?

Sending out flyers to local residents or businesses can be the perfect way to get your company and brand under their noses. If it’s catchy enough, they might stop and read it, and then remember you.

Or, they might pin it up on a board, or put it away in a draw. But then when they need what you offer, they’ll recall they have a company that can deliver just that.

All it takes is a few people to take notice of your flyer or flick through your brochure and buy from you, and that cost will have suddenly been worth it.

Top tip: Try and include a call to action with a unique promotional code or URL on your advertising materials, so you can track which pieces brought you the best opportunities.

Trade shows and exhibitions

Like advertising materials, trade shows or exhibitions do require a bit of money spending at the outset if you want them to be successful. You’ll need promotional materials, banners and staff to man a table and talk to potential customers.

But these are the kinds of places that big businesses like to attend and there are lots of opportunities here.

Yes, it is expensive in the first instance, but when the CEO or CMO of a big firm comes over and wants to chat, you have the opportunity to land a huge contract or sale. One that could see a return on your investment 10 times over.

And that opportunity is worth the cost.

Top tip: Be sure to put the time, effort and cost into networking at these events, it’s hugely beneficial.

Digital marketing

Finally, there’s the opportunity of digital marketing. This is where costs can seem expensive and continual – a constant stream of money leaving your account to pay for AdWords or technical work, new content or social media management.

See also: What is digital marketing?

But digital marketing represents a massive opportunity for your business, especially in the rural sector.

With it, you have the potential to reach an incredibly wide audience and to convert thousands of visitors, if not more, into paying customers.

  • Good content will inform, educate, inspire and convince your customers to buy from you and it will attract more and more visitors from search engines
  • Well managed paid search campaigns will capture a captive audience at a low price, and make sure your business is front and centre when they’re ready to buy
  • Good SEO work will ensure that your website is up to scratch (since you’ve already invested in it) and help you to rank highly when customers are searching for what you offer
  • Good social media management – paid and organic – will ensure your brand stands out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, and brings customers to your business.

Those do all cost money but they should make you a lot more in return. As long as you make your money back, and then some, the opportunity was worth the cost.

But the chances are with good digital marketing, you’ll be making a lot more than that on-going cost. Think double, treble or even more.

Top Tip: Don’t try and do all your digital marketing yourself. To maximise your investment, you’ll want to get specialists in who can make your money go as far as possible.

The key is measurement

There are lots of opportunities out there. Marketing your business well can bring you so many different, exciting possibilities.

But the key is in measuring the success and impact of those opportunities. You need to know which opportunities didn’t pan out and weren’t worth the cost.

When you know that however, you can quickly turn your attention to those opportunities which bring you great returns then they won’t seem like a cost at all.

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