What's Your Marketing Budget?

If you’re a SCUBA instructor, you probably have different prices for private, semi-private, and regular group Open Water courses, with private courses being most expensive and group courses being least expensive.

Are your students receiving a different level of education? Is the private course certification worth more than the group course?

Typically, the answer to both questions is no.

So why do you charge different prices?

You are providing a different level of service based on the requirements and budget of your student.

We receive many requests for proposals (RFP’s) each week for web sites, search engine optimization, local search optimization, email marketing, or social media management. One of the most common questions we receive is how much is this going to cost?

Unfortunately for you, there are a wide variety of factors at play that make the size of the range of prices surprising for some.

For instance, a web site could range from $300 to $15,000. On the $300 site, you’re getting a basic template with little customization and just a couple of pages (you can always add as many as you’d like) whereas on the $15,000, you’re getting a fully customized design, complete e-commerce system to sell your courses, multiple languages, and content optimization. But, depending on your requirements and marketing budget, we can create a package to fit.

Keep reading to learn how you can get a $15,000 site for nothing up front if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

The Social Media Example

Another common request (that comes with some shocked replies) is social media strategy and management.

If you want a strategy consultation, that may be free (because I like talking about social media marketing and on rare occasion I have both the free time and the interest in your project – usually non-profit – to just blather on about it), but if you want full management, that can cost thousands per month. Let me explain why:

I direct social strategy and manage social media for Leisure Pro. Our business hours are Monday through Thursday 9AM to 7:45PM, Friday 9AM to 1PM, and Sunday 10AM to 5PM (all times Eastern). Since our customer base is predominantly US-based, I extend those closing hours (aside from Friday) to Pacific time, so I’m available effectively 9AM to 10:45PM Monday through Thursday and 10AM to 8PM on Sundays. I’m a night owl, so if I’m up at midnight and someone contacts us via social media, they’re very likely to get a response immediately.

Am I sitting in front of my computer that entire time? No, just our actual business hours. But outside of that time, I get alerts on my iPhone and iPad so I can respond within minutes if needed. I’m effectively on-call outside of business hours to let customers know they are being helped even if it might take until the next morning when the office opens.

Think this schedule is crazy? Here’s what customers expect:

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So I’m just doing what consumers expect of me (including being available nights and weekends).

In case you’re wondering, those 65+ hours of me being on-call (as well as working on a variety of projects) is why you’re more likely to hear from one of the other team members when you send us a message here 🙂

A quick anecdote: a family member has worked as a medical imaging technician for many years. Part of the job includes “on-call shifts”. He doesn’t have to go in to the hospital, but he has to keep his phone on and he is expected to be able to drop everything should he be needed. I always thought it was great that he could be at a family BBQ while getting paid double time, but he always said it wasn’t that great since he wasn’t allowed to even have a single beer in case he got called in. At the time I thought his complaint was unreasonable, but now I get it. I went camping on my last day off and aside from constantly thinking about things for the camping/hiking company I work for, I saw several social media inquiries come in on my phone that I couldn’t ignore. So much for days off.

So when you contact us for help with your social media marketing, an audit and action plan may only be $300, but full management with multiple posts per day across a variety of networks as well as monitoring for replies and mentions can easily be in the $3,000+ per month range.

If you do the math on that, you’ll see the hourly rate isn’t impressive (but then again, neither is the hourly rate for a SCUBA instructor), but it’s fun and flexible, just like being a SCUBA instructor :).

But just like with the earlier web site examples, we can customize all packages to fit within your marketing budget. As I like to tell people:

Take a look at your competitors. See what they’re doing. If you do what they’re doing plus one, you’re going to beat them. If you do what they’re doing plus 10, you’re going to beat them more quickly.

Plus one may fit into your marketing budget while plus 10 doesn’t, that’s why we work with you to create a custom package based on your requirements. We’ve always been in this not to make a quick buck, but to help the entire industry by educating you on how to do this work on your own. It’s your choice if it’s worth your time to pay someone else to do it or not.

DIY Options

Another common question we get (especially after seeing some of our price ranges) is “Can’t I just do all of this myself?”

Easy answer: you sure can!

If you’re an independent instructor competing with other independent instructors, the time needed to keep your site up to date and post regularly on social media is something most people can handle. We have independent instructor priced options if you ever need help.

But if you own a dive center, equipment manufacturer, or any of the other companies in the industry with a lot of competition, you’re likely to need someone dedicated to managing all of your content marketing. Some times this is an in-house employee, some times it makes sense to hire out

Here’s a little challenge for you: If you’re in the market for a new web site and think you can do it yourself, go to Pro Scuba Sites. Yes, they redesigned their site, but they also redid their packages at my recommendation. They’re now focused more on the self-empowered dive professional with plans that fit everyone from just a diver wanting to tell their dive stories (you should be encouraging your students to do this, hopefully they’ll be promoting you in their stories) to a dive center or manufacturer who needs every bell and whistle imaginable.

Here’s the thing: It’s very DIY. They’re giving you access to $1,300 worth of software on their free plan or $2,690 in their insanely-affordable paid plan, but you have to do a bit of the work on your own. You don’t have to deal with hosting, install software, or setup databases, but you do have to select your design template, site features, and customize them to your liking.

Some of you will try it out and work through everything on your own and you’ll get a $15,000 site for less than a dollar a day. Some of you will check it out, realize you’re a dive professional and not a web designer and you’ll hire them or us to help you get everything the way you like it. Regardless, it’s a great option at an even better price. It’s the platform this site is built on, so we know it works.

It’s Just Like Teaching SCUBA

When a student needs a more flexible schedule or one-on-one attention or extra pool sessions, you accommodate them and adjust the price accordingly.

The same concept applies when getting help with your online marketing.

So, what’s your marketing budget?

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