Marketing is the act of persuading people to buy a product or service. Often, businesses need to convince customers to buy their product or service instead of a similar one from another company.

It goes without saying that marketing is getting harder and harder. Not only is competition fierce, but technology and the digital world are ever-changing. Nailing down a marketing strategy in 2017 is like trying to hit a moving target.

Cheryl, our Director of Marketing, recently wrote a post about marketers and their constant search for stakeholder approval. I’ve been part of many pitches and approvals, so I speak from personal experience: getting a room full of opinionated people to arrive at a singular conclusion is difficult.

That post is a great read (especially if you like the new TV show American Gods!) but I want to change the conversation a little bit. I’m here to discuss the step before a marketing team presents its plan and asks for a go-ahead: selling the idea of marketing.

For agencies and marketers, the toughest part of making a sale is talking about money. Most family shops and small businesses don’t set aside a marketing budget, so there’s not much money to go around.

Here’s the thing, though: every company needs marketing. Whether you have a product, service or an idea, it requires support and encouragement to make its way into the world.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to help businesses who won’t, or don’t think they can afford to, embrace the idea of marketing. As with many things in life, all that’s required is a change of perception.

At the end of the day, everybody, including marketers, needs to view marketing as an investment, not an expense. I came up with a few points that I hope will change the minds of at least a couple of businesses.

Great Marketing Doesn’t Cost Money, It Makes Money

If I asked you to give me $500 today and I could guarantee I’d give you back $1000 in 30 days, would you give me the money? It’s not a trick and I can’t steal your money. It’s a straight trade of 30 days without your $500 for a 100% return on your investment.

The only reason not to accept is if you can’t scrape together a spare $500. But I’d let you do it for $300, or whatever you could get. Given all these parameters, it’s a no-brainer. You can’t lose.

Marketing Investment

Marketing is the same deal. If you engage with the right kind of agency, marketing won’t cost you money in the long run – it’ll make you money. Like in the example above, you have to part with your cash in the initial stages, but you’re likely to see a big return on that investment.

If it’s so obvious, why isn’t marketing an easy sell? Again, we’re back to positioning and perception. Some marketing agencies promise way too much ‘return on investment.’ When they don’t deliver within their promised time frame, the relationship sours.

But some agencies don’t promise anything in fear of falling short. This makes selling marketing solutions harder because there’s no visible benefit for the buyer.

It might seem like an irreconcilable difference, but there’s actually an easy solution to this problem…

It Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

A while ago, we wrote a post about how it was possible to make a big difference with a small investment in social ads. This might not be the most popular suggestion amongst markers, but when encountering businesses that are skeptical about marketing, why not let them start small?

Say there’s a business that only has a few sheckles for marketing; okay, great, that’s better than nothing! Help them implement something reasonable and effective, like a PCC campaign. When it works, the marketing has sold itself.

The concept is similar to that of a trial period for a software or an app; in this case I’m not suggesting marketers do work for free, but something small is better than nothing, right?

It’s not conventional, but if a little bit of give and take on both sides helps foster a fruitful long term relationship between a business and an agency, it’s worth a shot.


Marketing is an investment in your brand and its idea. Similar to how a gym membership is an investment in your health, and a savings account is an investment in your financial future, marketing is an investment in your business.

At WSI, we believe every big idea has merit. It’s our job to take big ideas – ones just like yours – and help them realize their full potential by harnessing the power of digital technology.