It’s a frustrating problem. I discovered a reliable, extremely inexpensive and amazingly effective program to manage the company’s email server requirements; a one-time $50 fee, plus an additional $20 (one time) for secure back-up capacity. The Mailwizz system handles an amazingly large database, properly screens emails for bounces, correctly catches and processes unsubscribe requests, and can quickly upload html and other design elements. Even though our overall list has more than 100,000 names, there haven’t been any spam complaints. (We of course don’t mail all 100,000 names, but segment portions of the list relevant for specific communities and geographical areas.)
Sounds like a winner . . . but there is a catch.
While the system provides some templates, and we can code/build out somewhat functional emails, the designs are hardly at the highest level. There’s a need for really thoughtful graphic design and correct coding to match the system to our requirements, and when you get down to this level of customization, it isn’t simply a matter of grabbing someone off the street (or more accurately the Internet) and setting the individual to work.
So far, I’ve received one quote, a “bargain,” for 200 hours work at $20 an hour, or $4,000.
Many readers here will quite a bit more than $4,000 on a single trade show and would think that a marketing campaign for that sum would be absurdly inexpensive. But everything is relative. Remember, we spent $70 (one time) for the program. When we are spending this type of money, it needs to go into the budget process and compared/allocated against other potential activities. Where is the return-on-investment? Could the capital be more effectively deployed?
There are no easy answers, though of course business management experts would suggest that if there is a budget item that needs to be allocated, it can be put into the business plan. As well, you could of course try to find better ways to do the work for less money, or defer the job entirely. (I’ve reposted the template development project offshore and will see if we can find someone to do the work for significantly less than $4,000.)
There is a converse argument here. How much are you spending because you have “always spent” on marketing activities without reviewing the return and value of the work for your task. You may be spending $400,000 on wasted activities — when you could get the work done for $4,000 or, in the most extreme circumstance, $40.00 It is good to keep your eye on the overall picture.
Sometimes pennies count for a lot of dollars.