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Let’s talk for a second about “marketing without a budget.”

There are two types of people who usually promote this concept:

Growth hacking consultants and marketing agencies – smart folks who write posts about marketing without a budget to promote their growth hacking consulting services or related products. Did you see the words consulting and products? Yep, there’s a budget right there.

CEOs or marketing leaders of small startups – these smart folks are doing a lot of manual/tactical work on their own, and present it as if it’s not a budget.

Come on. Let’s be serious for a second. There are only two things that money can’t buy: love and time.

When a CMO is doing tactical marketing work such as creating mailing lists, it costs the company money:

First, CMOs get paid, right? So part of their compensation is now actually a marketing budget. The same goes for the internal employees who are doing this work.

Second, he or she is not working on other things that CMOs need to do, such as business development relationships with partners for example. This means that there’s an alternative cost for investing in “marketing without a budget.”

Third, time to market is an important success factor for many companies. Let’s say that you could create an email list of potential clients internally and it would take you three months, but you could pay X amount of dollars and get it done in 30 minutes. This three month delay costs you money. You see? There’s the budget/revenue loss we were talking about, right there.

Marketing is an essential part of the business. As such, marketing leaders must also be business leaders. If we want to be taken seriously in the industry, we need to take our jobs seriously too. That means that we need to understand the way investment and ROI work. We can’t keep thinking about marketing as if it’s a blog post headline.

Show me one COO who is willing to produce products without a budget.

Show me one CTO who is willing to develop a product without a budget.

A CMO shouldn’t be any different.

How about we call it “cost effective alternatives for marketing activities”?

Think about that when you read the next “marketing without a budget” blog post.