Why are B2B Integrated Marketing Agencies so Expensive?

Kit Fox

Our clients have a common question when we slide a proposal across the table (or metaphorically slide one onto our shared screens). They don’t always ask it out loud. But we can tell it’s in the air, indicated by an eyebrow twitch or furrowed brow.

Why do marketing agencies cost so much?

It’s blunt, which is why it’s not often vocalized. Maybe our clients think it unprofessional or imprudent to speak it. But we know they’re thinking it. There’s usually a bit of awkward silence when the number appears. Then, we move on to discuss our scope of work.

The thing is, we aren’t offended when potential clients ask (or just think) it. In fact, we encourage the question. Because it’s totally fair. Your business has limited resources. Allocating a significant amount of those resources to a third party is a risk. It requires trust. It also requires asking tough questions, like the one above.

If we are being honest though, we’d like our clients to ask a slightly different–and arguably tougher–question when they first see that number. “Expensive” is subjective; your threshold for the amount of zeroes in a contract will vary based on the size of your business and your own personal expertise.

Return on Investment (ROI), though, is not subjective. No matter the size of the number, your marketing agency should bring you more revenue than you spend. So, the question you really should ask when that proposal slides across the table…

Is this marketing agency worth the investment?

Our job? Prove that we are.

Feature image for agency cost blog.


What do Integrated Marketing Agencies Actually Do?

To research this, you’re probably inclined to click on the “Marketing Services” link in our navigation bar. Or peruse this slide in our deck to prospective clients.

Neither’s going to get you the right answer. Because the right answer is pretty simple.

Integrated marketing agencies grow your business.

That’s it. That is what we do. The dozens of services we provide are just the tactics. If you ask a professional sports coach what they do, they won’t answer with their day’s checklist, like: “I conduct drills at practice and design strength plans and yell at players from the sidelines.” Instead, they will tell you, “I win games.”

We think about our services the same way. We…

  • Execute SEO strategies so that your website ranks higher on search engines, so that more people reach your website, so that you capture more leads, so that your business grows.
  • Rebrand your company so that you build authority and trust in your industry so that decision-makers in that industry learn more about your products and services so that they sign a contract that ensures your business grows.
  • And on and on…

No matter the tactic, we always end up at the same destination. Because if we aren’t, then we’re not proving our value. We actually are just expensive.

“Integrated” Means We Don’t Flip Houses. We Build Them.

At Altitude, every new client relationship starts with a one to three-month phase called “setting the foundation.” During that time, we complete a rigorous competitive audit, establish branding and positioning, interview stakeholders inside and outside the organization, and dig into the technical guts of your website and marketing automation funnel (if you have one).

When we lay out the process to potential clients, they sometimes ask us some version of: “Well, can’t we just skip all that and start building the website?”

Have you ever toured a flipped house? Things seem gorgeous with a quick glance. There’s a fresh coat of paint and gleaming appliances. Then you look closer. Spackle covers termite damage. The dryer vent ends inside a wall. There are cracks in the foundation, hidden by a tasteful shelf.

Some marketing agencies will skip the first step and just build you a website. Or they’ll spin up a fresh logo, cash your check, and move on.

They’re covering the cracks with a tasteful shelf.

They’re executing tactics without a purpose. Their mission? Build you a website or design you a logo.

As an integrated agency, our tactics must have a purpose–to grow your business. We can’t do this by flipping your metaphorical house. We must build it anew, with a solid foundation designed to drive results.

That’s not a simple (or cheap) endeavor. And it requires expertise across digital, creative, and strategic fields: From data science to website UX to content creation to AI, to graphic design, and beyond.

That’s why, as an integrated marketing agency, we’re perceived a “expensive.” We’re a team of 35, each with a world-class and finely honed skillset. We don’t just design logos or build you a website.

We grow your business.

So … Are We Worth It?

You can actually answer that question. It just requires a bit of math. To get started, take a look at data from your previous year and figure out:

Annual Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): This is the total number of leads you acquired through your existing marketing efforts: From forms filled out on the website to organic or paid social strategies to tradeshow efforts and beyond. If a lead entered your sales funnel, total it here.

Annual Number of Sales Closed: Of those leads, how many signed a contract with you?

Average Contract Value: Divide your annual revenue by the total number of closed sales above.

Once you have those three numbers, you can figure out exactly how much a single lead is worth to your business.

Let’s say you have:

  • 100 MQLs
  • 10 closed sales
  • $100,000 average contract value

This shows you are currently converting 10% of your leads. Maintain that current rate, and the value of any new lead to your business is $10,000.

Which is when you call us–your world-class B2B integrated marketing agency. Our goal will be to focus on improving two things: 1) Your total number of MQLs and 2) Your lead-to-sales conversion rate.

Boost either one, and your revenue will increase. If you want to know by how much, you can play with the following variables.

Agency-Sourced MQLs: The number of leads attributed directly to the agency’s marketing efforts.

Agency-Boosted Sales Conversion Rate: The percentage increase in the total of leads you converted into actual sales.

Agency Cost: The amount you are spending with us.

In the above example, let’s say we

  • Brought you 20 additional annual leads.
  • Worked with your sales team to boost your conversion rate by 2% (from 10% to 12%)

In this scenario, we increased the value of every new lead to $14,400. We also brought you 20 of them, providing your organization with $440,000 in additional revenue. Spend anything less than that added value with us, and you made a fantastic investment. It means we are worth it.

Don’t want to do all this math by hand? Use are calculator below.

Conclusion: The Right Agency Might Be Expensive. It’s Also Worth It

The right marketing agency isn’t going to just tell you they can design beautiful logos or build you a functioning website. If they don’t finish their proposal by saying that their beautiful log and functioning website will grow your business, you actually should raise an eyebrow or furrow your brow.

An agency worth the price proves it by increasing your bottom line. They have calculators (ahem… see above) that keep them accountable. They don’t just patch cracks. They demolish the broken foundation and work with you to build a new one.

When you are ready to work with the right agency–one that only executes tactics to grow your business–we’ll be here, ready to start the conversation.

Ready to elevate your B2B marketing?

We help leading business-to-business brands hit their marketing goals. Get in touch to learn how Altitude Marketing can help you reach your peak performance.

Kit Fox

Kit Fox is Altitude’s lead internal brand storyteller and content creator. Before joining Altitude in 2024, Kit spent a decade in the publishing industry, where he served as an editor for, Runner’s World. Men's health, and Men’s Journal, special projects director for Hearst Magazines, and director of membership for Lehigh Valley Public Media. He is the co-author of “Mighty Moe: The True Story of a Thirteen-Year-Old Running Revolutionary.”