Old-School vs. New-School Advertising Costs…..It Ain’t Even Close

by Marcus Sheridan

burning-money-advertisingThe biggest complaint that business owners have regarding blogging and inbound marketing, at least initially, is that it costs too much and takes too much time. And, although I’d just love to argue both points today, I’ll simply expound upon the former in this little post.

Let’s use my buddies at Hubspot as our inbound marketing model for a second. Although they have quite a few packages depending on the needs of a business, we’ll use their small package for the sake of comparison, which costs a total of $3,000 per year. In comparison with other mediums, (keeping in mind these prices ranges vary drastically regionally and so I really don’t want to hear anyone complain at how inaccurate these numbers are), these are the prices I was paying here in Virginia a few years back before I saw the light:

Billboards: Initial artwork fee of $500-$2000 and then average out to $500-$5000 rental fee per month. In other words, on the very low end, one could expect to pay $6,000 per year on billboard advertising.

Phone Book: Ahh yes, my buddies over there will the yellow sheets of paper. Anyone that has ever advertised with the Yellow Pages knows that the cost can be unbelievably high, with the size of the ad being the biggest factor. That being said, an average-sized ad in the Yellow Pages is going to cost at least $500-$1000 each month, or 6-12k annually. At my peak, I was spending about $40,000 a year on Yellow Pages….which might explain why I hate those guys ;-)

Home/Trade Shows: The dreaded weekend killer, aka—The Home Show. Boy have I seen businesses drop some serious duckies on home shows in the past. Heck, I’ve dropped over 25k on one show in the past myself, which makes me want to barf just looking back on those wasteful days. On average, if a business does 4 home/trade shows a year, the cost will be at least $20,000.

Radio: Business owners typically faint the first time they meet with a radio ad sales rep. In most markets, a 60 second spot is at least $100 during decent hours. Considering that radio is worthless without decent airway saturation, a business owner can expect to spend about $3000-$4000 a month for a normal campaign in a decent-sized market, which equates to 35-50k a year….ouch.

TV: Geez, don’t get me even started on TV. The prices and costs vary wildly in this medium but just the cost of producing a commercial, much less running ads on the air, is an absolute killer—at least 25k-75k annually. (or you could just go buy a $150 flip camera and be viewed by millions on YouTube for free )

Direct Mail: ValPak, Reach, and the rest of the direct mailers have had their day in the sun, but the reality is that they are about as dead as the Yellow Pages. Notwithstanding, most direct mail markets will cost at least $1,000 a month, or 12k a year.

Print: Holy Smokes. I once did a full-page ad in the Richmond Times Dispatch and it cost me $4,000 for that one single ad. To this day, I cringe when I think about how big a waste that was. Heck, I’d have been better off just burning the money in a bonfire with my kids. At least then it would have been a pleasant memory. ;-)

Adwords: Oh boy, now here is a medium (albeit not old-school) that can bring businesses with the deepest pockets to their knees. A little over 2 years ago I was spending $500 every 3 days (50k per year) on Adwords. For a pool guy, this was an absolute killer. What’s crazy is that many businesses out there spend much, much more than this number.

So there’s my take on old vs. new forms of advertising. Looking at these costs, you can see why I’m such a huge advocate of blogging, video, and other forms of inbound marketing to generate leads. Remember, unlike every form of advertising above, inbound marketing is the gift that keeps on giving. Just one blog article can conceivably bring your company leads for the next 25 years. Think about that for a second. The potential is truly unbelievable.

So learn from my mistakes and don’t be dumb. Don’t waste your money. Be great at one thing. Be a great inbound marketer. You and I both know that $3000 is chicken-feed compared to the past. I can promise this will not only be the smartest move you’ve ever made for your business, but it will also save, and make you, a lot of dang $$$ :-)

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