By Zaid Ammari, Founder of PPC Masterminds 

In my experience, the moment you talk about investing in a new marketing strategy with the people responsible for cutting the checks, their first thought is, "Can we afford it?" and the second, “How do we know this money is coming back?”And I believe therein lies a problem.

But sure, it is intuitive. After all, if you invest in a salesperson, they better — at least eventually — start bringing in more money in sales than you’re paying them in salary, right? That’s the incorrect association that many brands make when it comes to marketing. The benefits of raising awareness, acquiring leads, developing research data, receiving customer feedback, reviews, testimonials and positioning your brand as a voice of authority are often immeasurable. They also require time, effort and commitment — and they should be part of the business strategy from day one.

According to Content Marketing Institute’s “2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” report, only 30% of business-to-business (B2B) marketers and 38% of business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers believe their organization is effectively marketing content. And 55%? They said they didn’t even know what content marketing success looks like. 

As someone who works daily to enhance both my personal brand and the brands of my clients, I see this disconnect all the time, but it took looking through that 2016 trends report for this to occur to me — people might only see successful marketing campaigns in the context of a brand that’s so established, marketing feels like it’s just for good measure. If your first thought wasn’t Coca-Cola, it was probably McDonald’s.

But when McDonald’s is dropping nearly $3 million per day on advertising (paywall) even though nearly every street in America has giant yellow arches, essentially billboards leading you right to their drive-thru, they’re not exactly trying to turn a measurable profit. Instead, McDonald’s is trying to entrench themselves into the American mindset.

In a Chicago Tribune piece, sales coach Leanne Hoagland-Smith pointed out how “CEOs do not consider marketing a strategic part of the management team … [they] fail to recognize marketing is part of their daily strategic initiatives.”

With this in mind, what could we say about the strategic initiatives of McDonald’s? I think it’s safe to say their overall brand goal is to be permanently imprinted into our brains, no? And as such, their marketing would be easy to argue as being more important to their bottom line than the customer service quality of the people handing you a burger. Both are important, but which is going to make you pull into McDonald&rquo;s instead of the Burger King on the other side of the street?

Hoagland-Smith goes on to point out how many businesses often create marketing plans without a unified vision and connected strategy and how detrimental this could be. I couldn’t agree more. Rather than debating about whether or not to invest in a marketing strategy that will have a definitive return on investment, consider incorporating marketing into your business strategy from the get-go. Especially for a brand in its infancy, every level operating around the unified marketing end goal means your company stands to reach that goal faster. You can find effective marketing strategies that fit your unified brand goal on a budget too. I do it every single day. 

After all, you need to raise awareness, attract attention and position your brand within your niche of offerings before you can start building client relationships or retaining customers.

The biggest takeaway here is unification because it prevents these disconnected, standalone marketing strategies from happening, the kind that led so many of us to this idea — that marketing as a concept is its own investment and not part of a singular brand unity. Why else would over half of B2B marketers not even know what marketing success looks like? It looks like a successful company. Now, whether or not your brand can afford certain marketing strategies over others is a different story. But even something minimal, grassroots or “just in case we’re Googled” is better than nothing.