Last week, when I wrote about leadership marketing, I said:

Business owners aren’t marketers. A lot of business owners do the work of marketers to market and sell their own stuff, but that’s not what they got into business to do. So they don’t feel comfortable going outside the box to create their own marketing plan. (And, I assume, they think they can’t afford to hire someone to create a custom marketing plan for them, which is a lie, but I think it happens a lot!)

Kristi McDaniel, of Simply Yoga, noticed this comment and replied:

I guess in my head marketing agencies cost thousands of dollars for a campaign that may or may not work so I have never wanted to gamble. Can you talk more about [this]?

SUCH a good question that I wanted to share my response with everyone (with her permission, of course).

Is a marketing consultant a gamble if there’s not guaranteed ROI?

I totally understand the hesitancy to invest in something that doesn’t have a guaranteed ROI. When I get on a sales call with someone who wants to sell me something for my own business, one of the first mental calculations I make in my head is: What’s the potential ROI of this investment? I want to know how many sales it will have to help me make to pay for itself.

But even when the math makes sense to me — that an investment will pay for itself quickly or with just a few sales on my end — that doesn’t mean there’s a guaranteed ROI.

In fact, in my experience, very little in business comes with a guaranteed ROI. If you spend money on a new website design the hope is certainly that it will pay for itself by bringing in new business — but it’s not guaranteed.

And personally, I have always been incredibly hesitant to say anything about my marketing services that might even have a whiff of a guarantee about it, because there is so much about the marketing and sales process that is outside my control.

Here’s a great example: We worked on a launch with a company recently and wrote all their launch content, but we were not involved with or in charge of the Facebook ads campaign. The company didn’t meet their enrollment goals for this launch — and part of the reason was that the company running the Facebook ads didn’t meet their goals.

If I’d made some sort of guaranteed ROI promise to that client, I might be in the doghouse right now! But the fact that the ads company didn’t deliver the traffic we needed to reach the enrollment goals was totally out of my control…

So no: my answer to Kristi’s first point is that every part of sales and marketing is a gamble. Even when companies put the puzzle pieces together in a way that turns leads into customers today, it may not work again tomorrow. There is no guarantee.

Does that mean hiring a marketing expert is a bad investment??

Well now that I’ve disavowed us of the misapprehension that there are any guarantees in marketing, does that mean that hiring a marketing expert is a bad investment?


Marketing strategy and consultation as well as expert copywriting is still a very good investment for many companies — even if we can’t provide a guarantee.

That launch I was talking about above? It’s true that they didn’t meet their enrollment number goal. What’s also true, however, is that they had their most profitable launch ever. They more than doubled their revenue from their previous launch (well into the mid six figures). And despite spending five figures to have us create their launch content, their investment with us came out to less than 3% of their overall revenue from the launch.

Seems like a pretty good investment to me!

How do you know if hiring a marketing consultant is a good investment?

So how do you know if hiring a marketing consultant, strategist, or copywriter is a good investment for your business?

My suggestion would be to consider how many NEW customers or clients you would need to attract to pay for our services.

If a life coach needs only one new client to cover the costs, that seems like a no-brainer. If a product-based company needs to sell a thousand widgets at $3.50 each, that might need more consideration, and so on…

The other thing to consider is the cost of your time and the cost of continuing to try to figure it out for yourself. For example, I spoke to a woman a couple of weeks ago who told me it took her 7 hours to write a blog post. We had to ask, is 7 hours of her time worth more than what that she would pay to us to write the blog post? As it turned out, her hourly rate for ONE hour of her time was worth more than what she would pay for one blog post, so it was definitely a value for her! Todd Herman and others talk about this as outsourcing the “$5” and “$10” tasks. (Obviously, a blog post is more than $10! But the metaphor stands.)

Plus, there’s the cost of the anxiety and stress you might be putting on yourself to come up with the marketing plan yourself. That’s much harder to put a dollar amount to, but if having a partner who is an expert at content marketing on your team can remove some of that stress, then obviously there is value there as well.

What would the value of removing that stress be for you in your business? What would it be worth to you to have someone else considering the details every week so that you could focus on the big picture, on delivering your genius, on being the CEO (instead of chief cook and bottle washer)?

Only you can determine if removing these types of activities from your to do list has a monetary value to your business equal to — or above and beyond — what you’d pay us to do it for you. But the point is that, guarantee or no, there is value to be had in hiring an expert.