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Marketing Myth #1: Digital is cheaper than traditional media.

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This is a new series that addresses the common “Digital Strategist”/SEO cowboy myths, that will hopefully help you to be aware of red flags when choosing an agency to work with. I hope this is of value, and if there is anything specific you would like me to answer/address, get in touch.

Digital Marketing is not cheaper than traditional marketing. It is just more accessible.


If I had one wish, it would be that bottom-feeding “digital marketers” would stop saying that digital is “cheaper” than traditional media. It is not. Digital Marketing is just a few more options in a myriad of channels, in which good quality content is still King.

Digital Marketing, or rather good digital marketing is NOT cheaper. It is just easier for these low-end “Digital Strategists” to create crap content that would not be printable, and charge low prices that appeals to your fear of spending money. It encourages a scarcity mindset in business that is more focused on the price than on the value, which we all know, is the fastest way to circle the drain.

What is the actual cost?

Just like the misnomer “offshore is cheaper” — it might be cheaper on paper, but look at what you get for it. Broken English copy, poorly converting, generic websites, misunderstood specs, pointless features, generic design that doesn’t take users into account. Sure, you’ll get a deliverable, but is it any good? Does it actually do anything?

Nope. Your “cheaper” service is a false economy. You are focused on the wrong things: cost over return. Your cheap website is absolutely pointless if it is crap and doesn’t get you business. Sorry.

Similarly, content for content’s sake, by unqualified people, is pointless if it isn’t actually good, irrespective of the medium. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t necessarily mean it has to be expensive, and there are some examples of well-executed, creative DIY ideas, but those are rare. Sorry.

Creative and content has to be good to be worth the investment. And, by and large, to get something good, regardless of the medium, it costs money. Even “bedroom YouTubers” have years of experience and expensive equipment behind them, are exceptionally clever people who make it look easy, and, most importantly, are the exception to the rule. I hate to break it to you, but most of us are boring. Sorry.

Good creative people, good user experience consultants and true strategic thinkers are rare. They attract a premium in the market. It costs money to analyse data, invest in User Experience, measure, adjust, refine, segment, and produce good content, with expertise to the point where it works.

Business 101: You have to spend money to make money and digital is NO different.

Despite what the MLMers and “Internet Marketing Summit Expert Guru Real Estate Agent turned Digital Strategist Download My eBook for 5 things you can get anywhere be rich in 30 days” types will tell you, there are no shortcuts here. Maybe, in 2002, you had a shot.

Now? No. You have to put the work in, or pay someone to put the work in for you.

Back to the point.

Good digital marketing can actually be more expensive than traditional media, if you are doing it right, but it usually has a higher return. It is hard to get right, but once you do, you will smash it.

It is expensive because it is complex. Because good content still costs a heap of money to produce. Because we have to create more of it, at a higher quality, to compete. Because we have to compete in PPC with scammers and “SEO” experts who put out low quality content and pointless landing pages and are constantly trying to game the system. Because instead of one TVC with a single catchy jingle and celebrity ambassador that you run for 3 years, you now have to consistently create high quality, funny, engaging videos to stay competitive.

If you go into digital marketing with the expectation that it is cheaper than other channels, you have already lost. Because you are not seeing it as an investment. The only difference? Digital is more measurable, and, when done right, has a higher ROI.

“Digital Marketers”, that sell quick-fix digital marketing services for $500/month, rips off clients, destroy our industry and produce “content” that real agencies would find embarrassing. What you may save in $, you will lose in credibility and return. Price sensitivity has an opportunity cost, like anywhere else in business, and if you are worried about price, you have the wrong mindset.

Digital is more accessible, attracting the amateurs.

Yes, digital is more accessible, and generally faster to execute than a TVC, but here is a fact: quality creative is quality creative. Creativity is creativity. Good strategy is good strategy, that requires expertise and seniority and experience that these self-proclaimed “digital strategists” do not have. Most of them can barely even write, let alone execute a proper, strategic campaign.

We have reached a point where these clowns are just adding more and more noise, creating terrible, pointless, keyword-stacked content. Social Networks are aware of this and are now implementing what I call a Boring Tax.

Good creative, good strategy, good advertising, good content and optimisation COST MONEY because it takes expertise and effort. To be seen on Facebook and Google COSTS MONEY because it takes expertise and effort. Organic SEO is an ongoing exercise, where you need to create quality, relevant content. Good content is what you pay for. The medium is irrelevant. You get what you pay for with your “digital marketing guru” who sells you $500/month packages. No one good is that cheap.

If you think you can DIY or somehow get around the simple fact that good content costs money, go for it. Perform your own electrical wiring, but don’t be surprised when you lose power. Weigh up the risk v benefit. You might get lucky and have a one in a million idea that gets you some traction for a day. I did it. I am good at what I do and it was still just bum luck. But you’d be better off accepting that there are no shortcuts, and that good content, rather than just “content” is what matters.

This is just good business, and is a fact of business that doesn’t change just because digital is more accessible. If it pays for itself, it is worth it. Digital doesn’t change that.

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