Recently, I came upon a terrific article by Chris Ronzio of entitled “What I spend on being efficient”. It’s about living in the shared economy and calculating the value of enlisting online subscription services to save time and run your business. He addresses the business owners position very well – “It starts off harmless. $9 a month to store all my files in the cloud? That’s cool. $20 a month for a virtual phone service? Nice! But before long, you start to get skeptical. “Another subscription service? How many of these do I need?! Not another monthly charge.”

As marketers, we battle this regularly as a key part of our strategic approach is to add value to a company as simple business processes enable substantial return on investment (ROI) on marketing dollars spent. How can you access ROI of your marketing/PR efforts unless you have proper systems in place to report on results? How can you address reputation management if you don’t have the right customer service and social monitoring tools in place? How do you nurture our current customers, as well as prospects, if you don’t have a customer relationship management database (CRM) and a marketing automation and communications tool?

What’s fascinating to us is how many businesses jump into markets without a proper infrastructure to support it. Why spend the money on integrated strategic marketing programs if you’re not willing to support the backend processes to ensure they are successful? To us, not focusing on the foundational business management processes is like burning money, and is a recipe for failure. Unfortunately, marketers are often blamed for poor results because they are measured on sales totals without addressing the underlying issue of proper systems and sales support to secure the sale/conversion. There are also a plethora of other goals that should be accessed to determine a successful program which are often overlooked – increased engagement, number of qualified leads brought into the pipeline, increased awareness through press placements, etc….the list goes on and on. But the bottom line is, you can’t measure any of these things without the right tools to do it!

For small-to-medium size businesses, Chris has a great formula to help you understand how much you should spend on apps and online services. We are huge advocates of setting up simple systems and would point anyone in his direction to help access what you should be spending and where. Like he says, “bundling online subscription services is like cobbling together a super-human robot transformer employee that doesn’t take breaks, works 24 hours a day, and costs less than minimum wage. I’ll buy that all day.”

Connect with Chris @benchaccounting on Facebook, or on his blog: