This month’s “Ask the Expert” Round-Up article tackles the big question, “How to determine a marketing budget.”
You may be surprised to learn how often businesses don’t have a marketing budget or don’t know what they can afford for marketing. If you are a start-up or in the first few years of business, your budget doesn’t have to be huge. However, if you don’t have one at all, your business won’t grow in an intentional and measurable way. Too often, small businesses only allocate what is left over after all the other bills have been paid. Often this amount is zero dollars.
“Marketing should be a line item not an afterthought.”
Amy Zander, Chief Word Slayer, Zeedia Media
If you are struggling with how to create a healthy and realistic budget for your marketing, keep reading.
As you will learn from the experts below, allocating resources to marketing is essential to growing your business. Different businesses spend their marketing in different ways. However, all three of our experts agree that your marketing budget is not an “expense” but an “investment.” When you start looking at it that way you can get excited about spending the money and seeing the results.
After you read the following invaluable advice, let us know what resonates with you. If you have additional advice and helpful tips, please provide them in the comments. We are always looking for concrete, tangible ways to help businesses develop solid marketing strategies.
Marketing is an Investment in your Company: Bob Hedlund, co-owner of Hedlund Plumbing
“Think of your marketing budget like rent you are paying to live in people’s heads.”
-Bob Hedlund, co-owner of Hedlund Plumbing
Zeedia Media had a great conversation with Bob, who has been running this family owned business with his brother, Tom, for many years.
The overall message and golden nugget of wisdom Bob offered is a very common theme and common sense. “Don’t think of your marketing budget as an expense, but rather an investment in your business.”
Bob also noted that the moment a business owner stops investing in his business and starts taking more money home, the business starts to decline. “I’ve seen this many times,” Bob acknowledged.
“Business is always moving. It’s either moving up or moving down. It never just holds steady. A business owner who says they have enough business and are happy where they are is actually decreasing in business.”
That may happen at the end of the life of a business, but in the early stages a marketing budget is crucial to the growth of a business.
“The easiest and most effective way to create a marketing budget is to think of it in terms of percent of sales. Let’s say you budget 1% to marketing. You do a $500 job so $5 goes to marketing. Include it in the cost of doing business and build it into the quote you give the client. How much more could you do with marketing if you make your budget 2%? Now you have $10.”
The crucial part to this plan is to actually take that money and set it aside. Bob recommends creating different sub-bank accounts for different allocations of money. For example, one for marketing, one for fleet vehicles, one for payroll, one for insurance, etc. That way every week you can move the money into those accounts so that it is there waiting when you need it.
Bob also explained a very important part to a marketing budget that is sometimes overlooked:
“There are two halves to your marketing budget. One is the “fixed” budget for items that you spend money on regularly. Things like contracts for TV and radio ads (or working with a marketing agency.) Then you have the “variable” half of your marketing which includes things that come up like events, 5K races, sponsorship and things like that. Build this cushion in so you have a budget to take advantage of marketing opportunities that come along.”
Marketing is not just about making a sale right now. You have to look at the long game and always remember you are building a brand and awareness so that when people think of your industry they think of your company. Most marketing efforts don’t happen overnight. Any one campaign, TV ad, radio spot, or social media post will take a while to gain traction. The real magic is a consistent, regular message.
About Hedlund Plumbing
Hedlund Plumbing is a full-service plumbing firm, servicing the plumbing, bathroom, and kitchen needs for the Greater Lansing area. They have a complete staff of professional licensed plumbers to give you the quality workmanship you deserve. Plus, they provide “Same Day Service”. As a third generation family-owned company, Hedlund takes great pride in taking care of customers. Visit hedlundplumbing.com for more information and follow them on Facebook.
Creating a Marketing Budget for Digital Ads: Jesse Flores, Chief Web Pro at SuperWebPros
When we asked Jesse to offer his wisdom on marketing budgets he had a readily available article and presentation already completed. His response focuses mainly on creating budgets for digital ad campaigns. His insights cover how to think about your return on investment and analyzing ad performance.
Jesse generously allowed Zeedia to share the following insightful excerpt from 7 ProTips for Determining Your Business’ Marketing Budget. Check it out:
Before we get started down this path of putting together a marketing budget, I want to remove some “head trash” and misconceptions that most of us have when it comes to budgeting. Starting with the word “budget.”
The problem with the “budget” frame is that it assumes that marketing is, de facto, an expense. That’s because it looks at the “cost” side of the equation, but not necessarily at the revenue side of the equation. Unless costs & revenue are married you’re never going to be quite sure whether your marketing is successful or not. Or whether your advertising is successful or not.
I’ve had ads I put together that I loved that did zilch. Zero. Nada. Laid big, fat, goose eggs.
And crappy ones I just threw up that did ok.
The difference? Who knows.
But because I have a model that keeps me honest in spite of my emotional attachments, I don’t generally over-extend too much on any given campaign.
For digital marketing, I use the following rules of the thumb:
High impressions, low clicks = poor ad or poor offer. You’re probably over-spending. Go back to your model. Prepare to cut off the campaign.
Low impressions, high clicks = poor ad, good offer. Pause the campaign, rework the ad.
Low impressions, low clicks = poor audience. Try again.
High clicks, low conversions = good offer, poor execution. Good work communicating the value on another channel. Fix your landing page.
Of course, there are times when these rules of thumb don’t hold true. And, for different channels, the thumbs are different. That’s why it’s important to know your various engagement metrics and have an (almost) algorithmic approach to your marketing budget.
If putting together a marketing budget stresses you with uncertainty, there’s a good chance you’re relying more on your gut than math. Don’t launch the campaign. Analyze the channel. Get clear on its purpose and your goals. Model it out. Bound your risk. Then test, small and repeat. Your bank account will thank you for it.
SuperWebPros helps entrepreneurs, businesses, & marketing teams keep pace with the Internet. With simple, flat-rate pricing & Super Support, their unlimited done-for-you web design service is the fast, friendly alternative to janky DIY websites, overpriced agency websites, and slow-to-get-back-to-you web guys. Visit their site at superwebpros.com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Marketing Budgets and Covid-19: Anne Subrizi, Marketing Director for Creative Wellness
Business ebbs and flows and so does marketing and marketing budgets. By creating your marketing budget around a percent of sales rather than a fixed amount, you can pivot and switch focus when sales are down.
This year the Covid-19 pandemic forced many businesses to do just that. Some businesses had to temporarily close completely, like wellness centers, while others had to shift their services dramatically, like restaurants.
Creative Wellness, a long-standing community anchor, had to close temporarily, but that didn’t mean they weren’t doing things behind the scenes.
“Like many small businesses, we’ve moved everything online to conserve spending. One of our 2020 goals was to refresh our website. When COVID hit and we closed it was a perfect project as the business was closed for months.
During this pandemic we are spending a great deal of time on messaging strategy, making sure our content connects with our customers. Our marketing team also led the charge for research and development for our pandemic protocols.”
About Creative Wellness
Creative Wellness provides professional health services at their wellness center in East Lansing, MI. Services include massage therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, and classes. They recently celebrated their 30 year anniversary. Learn more by visiting creativewellness.net and following them on Facebook and Instagram.
Round-Up Wrap Up
I think we can all agree that a marketing budget is a key element to the success of any business. Determining your budget based on sales and allocating a certain percent is a safe way to stay with what you can afford. This keeps you on track and prevents under or overspending as your business naturally ebbs and flows.
If you are new to creating a marketing budget you can start small with 1% and build from there. Create a separate sub-bank account for marketing and regularly move money into it so it is there when you need it. And spend it! Spend 100% of your marketing budget. If you’d like some help in determining how best to spend your marketing budget (no matter how big or small), schedule a free 30 minute consultation with Zeedia Media. We will give you options and ideas and help you get excited about spending that money!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 517-320-1568.