Being part of a digital marketing agency is fantastic way to earn a living. We meet many interesting people and get involved with some amazing businesses. However, during some of the conversations we have with prospective clients, we hear the phrase "Please keep in mind I'm a startup", which is code for "we have no money#awks.


A Simple Truth

One simple truth when it comes to digital marketing, and by that I mean anything from inbound and content marketing through to SEO and PPC, is you either need a healthy budget or plenty of time and a willingness to learn.

simple truth

It's fair to say luck also plays its part and from time to time this propels a website from zero to hero quickly, but this is rare. For most people it takes effort, and lots of it, to create a powerful lead generating website.

No Budget Means DIY

Without a digital marketing budget, you're going to need to go down the DIY route. The good news here is there are tons of fantastic resources out there to help you learn SEO, master PPC and become a content marketing guru. But at what cost?

Digital marketing isn't necessarily hard in the way say calculus is hard, or at least it was for me, but neither is it a trivial undertaking. The effort required to take a serious business from having little presence in Google and low or no monthly traffic to killing it and getting thousands of visitors is a huge undertaking.

So, while you're learning how to do all this stuff what are you not doing for your business? What's the opportunity cost of spending a large part of your week learning about and trying to implement a digital marketing strategy?

The Iron Triangle

The project management triangle, also known as the triple constraint or iron triangle, states, in simple terms, that you can pick any two of the following three things.

Fast - Good - Cheap

If you need it fast and it needs to be good, it won't be cheap. If you need it cheap and fast it won't be good and so it goes on. This maxim has been around for many years and while it's been challenged by lean development practitioners, it pretty much holds good for most businesses.

iron triangle

So it's clear if you want good search marketing, PPC, SEO etc but you need it to be cheap then you can't have it fast and even the lean methodology won't get around that!

Don't Waste Time

With respect to digital marketing one thing many people do is waste time looking for quick fixes and shortcuts. Unfortunately, to make matters worse, there are many people who peddle quick fix schemes. They'll tell you they have some secret sauce that lets them beat Google or a special relationship with the search giant and so on. It's bullshit, walk away from it and if you don't believe me listen to them.

Do yourself a favour and don't go down this route. By not accepting there's a job of work to do all you're actually doing is delaying the start of the hard work required to secure great search rankings. We've blogged about how it takes 6 to 9 months to get results with organic search and if anything that's a conservative estimate.

It's a bit like delaying starting a fitness kick, all your prevaricating does is make it harder to drag your lazy arse off the couch, put your trainers on and hit the tarmac.

It's Dante's Peak & Jaws Rolled Into One

Many startups don't budget anything for marketing, it's very common. However, it's a serious mistake to assume you're not going to need to work to generate sales. The lifeblood of most organisation is sales and they don't come easy.


Trying to get this message across reminds of films like Jaws or Dante's Peak. You know the type of thing. The expert can see what's going to happen but no matter how hard he or she tries to convince the town's elders they won't listen.

"If we tell everyone there's a killer shark on the loose we can kiss goodbye to the holiday season."

"If we admit that mountain's going to blow its top we can kiss goodbye to Big Corp investing in this town."

The theme is one of ignoring the evidence, heads being buried in sand and blind faith that bad shit's not going to happen. But bad shit always does happen.

A Huge Effort and Rich Rewards

In our view the effort required is huge but the rewards are massive. The traffic our site gets week in week out would cost about £40k per month to buy using Adwords. That's our reward for the years of effort we've put in and continue to put in.


Now, we're only small, for larger businesses who've embraced digital this number is way bigger, often into the millions. So, if you're prepared to do the following the benefits are unprecedented. Here's what you need to do.

  1. Cross-company understanding of the job in hand including timescales and the required effort.
  2. A commitment to embracing the workload.
  3. A realistic budget.
  4. The right team.

What are you going to do?

If you're confused about how to generate enquiries from your website and your business would benefit from a predictable, scalable, repeatable lead generation machine, simply request a FREE website review and audit.

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