Man drinking coffee and preparing a marketing budget with spreadsheets on laptop

As a right-brained creative professional, I feel a little lost when I am forced to look a numbers especially ones on a spreadsheet. On the same hand, it’s amazing how less lost I feel when the numbers translate to my business’ bottom line.

Successful marketing plans have to be aligned with two crucial pieces of information: your business goals and your budget.

It’s never too early or too late to plan for next year’s marketing budget. It’s an opportunity to plan for innovation, integration and optimization across all of your marketing channels. It’s also an opportunity to eliminate what’s not working to make way for what will work.

How can a startup or small to midsize business plan a marketing budget that is affordable and doable?

The general rule for small businesses that earn less than $5 million in annual revenue is that they should allocate 7-8% of that to marketing, according to the Small Business Administration. Marketing budgets for startup business largely depend on the industry, current revenue and projected growth.

Learn more about how to start a business with this article from Avasm.

Step 1: Analyze past marketing successes and set benchmarks

Don’t treat marketing like a guessing game. If the No. 1 goal for marketing is to bolster revenue, it only makes sense to take a look at what has worked in the past.

Use Google Analytics to compare goal conversions and organic web traffic with last year; How many people are filling out forms this year compared to last? Has user behavior changed? How many leads are coming from your pay per click ad campaigns?
Monitor your growth of email subscribers and click through rates (CTRs). Which emails have the best CTRs?

  • Subscribe to Moz, SEMRush or Ahrefs to monitor your search rankings
  • Track the rise or fall of your social media followers
  • Use Buzzsumo to track social media shares

Next Steps: Take note of customer patterns. What marketing channel brought in the most leads? What pay per click Google Adwords campaign produced the most results?

Potential New Budget Line Item: If you don’t have a marketing automation system, consider investing in one. From one place, you can schedule emails, post to your social media outlets, track your leads with a customer relationship management (CRM) and monitor your web traffic analytics.


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Step 2: Prioritize your needs

If you followed step 1, you know what’s working for your marketing. Now eliminate what’s not working from your budget.

  • Does it make sense to add more of your marketing budget to the pay per click ad campaign that brought in five new leads?
  • Or should that money be earmarked for promoting your Customer Appreciation Barbecue in July?

Use the ebb and flow of your business to determine what your business goals for the next fiscal year should be. Don’t forget to plan for slow times and for busy times. Does it make sense to spend the same amount of money on marketing when your restaurant is filled to the brim versus when your restaurant is dead?

Now, set goals for next fiscal year. Do you want to increase revenue by 20%? What would it take to get you there?

Next Steps: Do some research on what marketing tools and resources make sense for your company and your industry.

Potential New Budget Line Item: Working with a professional marketing agency is helpful for B2C and B2B businesses that want to establish the best marketing plan. Take into account goals, objectives and marketing channels that work with the target audience.

Step 3: Choose marketing channels with the best ROI

While marketing on every single platform taking up cyberspace can lead to high conversion rates, this is not a realistic goal for a small to medium-sized business in Savannah GA.

If you’re operating with a small budget, choose two marketing channels that make sense for your business. To understand which marketing channel will give you the most ROI, get to know your audience.

For starters, where does your audience want to be to interact with you?

I know! I know! (See that hand waving? That’s me!)

Your audience is on social media. If you are B2B, it’s LinkedIn. If you are B2C, it’s Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest. Do some research to understand which social media channel is right for your business.

Did you know that content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising? Develop a solid content marketing budget that lists the costs for quality blog articles, social media management and email marketing.

Consider costs for refreshing and optimizing your existing website or launching a new website from scratch. According to Hubspot, 72% of consumers who did a local search online visited a store within five miles and 28% of searches for something nearby result in a purchase.

Next Steps: Don’t be afraid to save some money with some DIY marketing. Start by planning a marketing editorial calendar. Take a look at holidays — both real holidays and the not-so-real marketing holidays (ex: National Popcorn Day — this one is real). Make a list of topics that would make good blog articles, social media posts and e-newsletters.

Potential New Budget Line Item: Boost monthly Facebook and Instagram posts that have calls to action. This is one of the most affordable digital advertising options because you set your budget and your audience.

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About this Blogger: Heather Bragg

About this Blogger: Heather Bragg

Before Heather entered the world of marketing, she was a newspaper journalist. Today, she is best known for developing well-rounded marketing plans that focus on the long-term.

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