Making Marketing Count: How to Maximize Your Small Business Marketing Budget

It’s no secret that every small business needs to market itself. You already know that one of the keys to building a successful, sustainable business is to market your products or services to current and potential future customers. The actual secret? Learning how to plan and implement a small business marketing budget that achieves your goals on a realistic budget.

These five tips will help get your small business marketing budget off the ground in 2018:

1. Identify your (specific) goals.

What gets you pumped up for 2018? Do you have an exciting product to launch or a new service you know will resonate with your customers? Maybe you’re planning a grand opening for a second location or you want to throw a fun “customer appreciation” event. It could be time to grow your online customer base or to drive more foot traffic through your front doors. The key to achieving any goal is to first name it. Your goals don’t need to be extravagant, but they should be specific. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to budget actual marketing dollars.

2. Ask yourself: How can marketing help reach those goals?

Is it time to breathe some new life into your overall branding? Are you hearing the Sirens’ song of Instagram? Maybe 2018 is The Year of the Newsletter!

Marketing and results go hand-in-hand. That new product might benefit from its own landing page on your company’s website. Your customers may be most likely to sign up for an event if you’ve advertised it on Facebook. Perhaps your customers are more traditional (i.e., more likely to see an advertisement in the local newspaper). Strategize how various marketing tactics can reach not only your current customers but also target the audience you want to respond to your specific goals.

3. Think “Big Picture.”

Coming up with an overall budget for anything can be challenging, but marketing can feel especially fuzzy. You don’t want to fall short, but how much is too much? We think the U.S. Small Business Administration offers some sound advice on this. They recommend spending 7-8 percent on marketing if you make less than $5 million a year in sales and your net profit margin falls in the 10-12 percent range. (Keep in mind that you will need to beef that number up a bit if you’re in the early days of your business or if you’re launching a new product. The number will taper off a bit as your business grows a strong reputation and word of mouth gains momentum.)

4. Next, think “Nitty-Gritty.”

We want every dollar of that big picture budget to count, so the trick is to be as intentional and deliberate as possible. Prioritize those goals and strategies and then price out a few potential expenses. Price out the marketing services that best align with your goals, whether it be logo development, newsletters, press releases, direct mail, website design or search engine optimization. Also consider what types of media placements might best target your audience, including radio spots, newspapers ads and digital advertisements. Ask yourself: What will get me the biggest return on my marketing investment? Budget accordingly!

5. Know what you don’t know.

Maybe you’ve got a couple of clear goals, but you’re not quite sure how marketing can help you meet them. Maybe you’re really good at running your local retail shop, but marketing isn’t your thing. That’s ok! In fact, it’s more common than you think, and that’s why companies like Zao525 exist in the first place! I always ask clients how much they paid themselves per hour to figure out a Facebook advertisement campaign that I could have pulled together in 30 minutes. You can use your skill set to do what you do best and lean on a quality consultant to help you with the rest in the most efficient way possible.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you … if you need someone to help you strategize and plan for your 2018 marketing budget, we’re here to help! After all, everything we do is customized to meet your goals and budget — just like our website says!

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