Last year around this time, I wrote a post about How Much You Should Budget for Inbound Marketing. In the post, I recommended a range of annual inbound marketing budgets based on company size, anywhere from $100-150K for small businesses up to $5-20 million for enterprises with $500+ million in annual sales. I’m sure many small businesses shrugged off my recommendations, opting instead for much smaller budgets they could afford or putting off the decision until things are looking better. When I have a conversation with a CEO or owner along those lines, I always say, “Well, if you’re not going to invest in inbound marketing, what are you going to do instead to grow revenues?” This usually leads to more discussion about ROI. They want to see some proof inbound will work before the work is done. That’s when I pull out my trump card.

Do You Know How Much it Will Cost NOT to Do Inbound Marketing?

Yes, there’s a very real cost of failing to invest in inbound or delaying action indefinitely. This has to do with brand visibility, competition, sales efficiency and top line revenue. Let’s take them one at a time.

Brand Visibility

How will you find new buyers? It isn’t easy. There are a lot of competitive forces, both online and off. Let’s start with your website: By not having a website that is attractive, relevant to your buyers and optimized for inbound marketing, you risk a number of opportunity costs:

  • Potential buyers leave because they can’t find what they want
  • They bounce because they don’t understand your value proposition
  • They give you no more than a quick glance because your site is slow to load or is unreadable on smartphones
  • You never know they visited your site because you have no attractive lead conversion offers

If you compound the problem by not consistently publishing blog posts and other content that interests your buyers and brings them back to the website or prompts them to share with friends, now you’re facing:

  • Low visibility on search engines, usually one of the best channels for lead generation
  • Little to no traffic or leads from social media
  • Lack of thought leadership in professional forums and industry websites
  • Potential buyers will regard your brand as old fashioned and out-of-touch then go elsewhere

If you fail to distribute your content to relevant channels, i.e. get it in front of your buyers using various forms of digital advertising and relationship building with industry influencers, your goose is effectively cooked. You have virtually no shot at competing with other companies that are “all in” with inbound marketing.


What happens when your competitors beat you to the inbound marketing punch? There are lots of potential impacts including:

  • They are first to market with competitive products
  • They grab market share early and increase it over time
  • They gain reputation as the industry leader
  • They consistently win in head-to-head competitions, RFPs and customer reviews
  • You reduce your sales revenue and increase your financial stress

Sales Efficiency

By using inbound marketing methodology and technology, companies are consistently reducing customer acquisition costs and increasing customer lifetime value. Inbound marketing works by identifying and reaching out to qualified buyers with content they want. This means the sales team gets more qualified leads and spends less time prospecting with methods that rarely work, like cold-calling, or expensive means like tradeshows. With the right marketing technology solutions and an aligned sales and marketing team, sales reps spend far more of their time talking with qualified buyers and finding ways to help them. That is how sales are won these days.

Top Line Revenue

The largest cost of not doing inbound marketing is top line revenue. If your brand isn’t visible, you can’t get qualified leads except by traditional methods, such as cold-calling, or by referrals. How well are those working for you? If your website doesn’t convert visits into leads and you can’t track your leads through the sales funnel, how will you get new customers? If your sales team isn’t aligned with marketing and using sales and marketing technology, how will you win in competitive situations with lead intelligence and insights that convince and convert customers?

All of these aspects of inbound marketing impact top line revenue, and the beauty of inbound is you can calculate ROI on your marketing budget. Now, let’s get personal: What happens if revenues drop on your watch? Yeah, things start to get ugly pretty quickly, so you have a personal stake in this decision. Just sayin…

So I ask you, can you really afford NOT to do inbound marketing? Can you even afford to wait to get started? If the answer is no, give us a shout.