The cost of digital procrastination

Posted on Mon Sep 30 2013
Barry Lee Cummings

We are all guilty of procrastinating. Whether it’s in business when we are thinking about the next step for our company, deciding on our next new car, or even just discussing where we go for dinner on a Friday night. We weigh the pros and cons, the what-if’s, and the opportunity cost – all in the name of making the most informed decision.

The truth is that the longer you ‘umm’ and ‘ahh’ about your digital presence, the more it’s going to cost you, both financially and in the ultimate resource: time. The longer you put it off and keep your faith in old media – usually because it’s comfortable and is what you understand – the higher the chance that you and your company won’t exist in three years’ time. And I’m not just talking about SMEs here; this applies to all companies. As it is, in 10 years, more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies won’t exist anymore*. Is that solely due to digital? No, of course not. But the fact remains that whatever business we are in and whatever the size of our business, our customers are going online. It’s important to note that while it’s obvious they are going online to find us to become customers, there is an increasing expectation to be able to engage with companies as existing customers too.

Not only do we need to be visible to them, but we can also no longer bombard them with advertising like the good old days. We have to only be visible to them when THEY want to see us and be invisible the rest of the time. Interrupt marketing is long dead. Consumers have become accustomed to blocking out the noise of advertising. They have spam filters and ad blockers as well as the ability to fast forward through adverts on TV and click past them on websites. The balance of power has firmly shifted in the favour of the customer. 

The local picture
For those of us based in the UAE, the problem is that we are playing catch up with more developed online markets. We are firmly stuck in the dark ages when it comes to digital marketing strategy, and simple things like online payments. There is an element of cultural history to take into account here for sure. The Middle East has traditionally been a cash-based economy and the transition to online is proving to be slow. Digital marketing is not a new concept; it has been around for over 10 years, but looking at the market here you would think this phenomenon had just arrived – such is the lack of understanding when it comes to direct marketing principles and your website, or the value that a simple blog element brings to your online presence. 

I have been speaking about digital marketing to companies in the region for the last four years and for the first three of those, there was a significant amount of contact between my head and the proverbial brick wall. I told a number of them at the time that should they come back to me further down the line and request for my help, I would charge them double for my time and they would also need twice the budget for any type of marketing they would look to undertake.

The first part of my advice was to make them think and avoid the usual procrastination. Many didn’t think that I would go through with it, but I did and I have had a number of customers knowingly pay me double my rate for not heeding the advice in the first place. 

The second part relates to your marketing budget. It surprises me that in the UAE, where the mobile device penetration percentage is over 200% – meaning on average everyone has at least two mobile devices – that companies still tell me they will get to their mobile marketing approach next year. The same companies have told me that they will look into Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising next year as well. What they are effectively doing is giving their competition a year’s head start, which means that when they eventually get round to it, they need to have the budget to make up the deficit and then some more budget to try and beat their competition.

The point of this article is that the cost of digital procrastination is high. Why not be the company the competition is looking at in twelve month’s time, wishing they had made the definitive decision you did, rather than being the one lagging behind?

Stop thinking and start doing.


* Source: Social Media Video 2013

About the Author

Barry Lee Cummings
Barry Lee Cummings
Barry Lee Cummings is the owner and digital strategist at Maximum Net Gain. He helps companies understand and implement digital strategy to get the most out of their web presence. For more information, please visit:

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