Great marketing is vital to any small business. But even before you come up with your content and what kind of swag you’re going to give away, you need to come up with a marketing budget.
One size definitely doesn’t fit all in this case. Your marketing budget is all about your needs. Do you need more leads? More brand awareness? More sales? Tailor your budget to your goals. Then give yourself some context. Compare this year’s marketing budget to last year. Or, if this is your first ever marketing budget, try to get a sense online what you should be spending on marketing given the size of your business. Typically, the newer you are and the faster you want to grow, the more you should allocate for marketing.
And once you’re done with that, make sure you cover everything on our list.
Content, messaging and graphics
Never underestimate the power of a strong message, a good story and a logo that reflects your brand. This is the bread and butter of your marketing strategy that can make you stand out from your competitors. If you don’t have a background in design or writing, consider hiring a professional, at least to get you started.
Digital marketing, email and website
It’s 2016. You can’t get away without an online presence for your business. Even if it’s a simple website and updating your social media content a few times a week, you need to budget for those tools and maintenance time. It’s probably best to pay someone to design your website and teach you how to maintain it. Just make sure you choose someone who understands SEO like a boss.
And of course, you need to make room for email marketing in your budget. Regular email newsletters keep your business top of mind with your clients and get your message to your audience. Luckily, if you hire the right people to do it, this doesn’t have to be a cost burden.
Swag and printed material
Depending on your industry, you should budget for relevant swag (think: branded tote bags, pens and notepads) and/or printed brochures. Hand these out to clients and at networking events, and it’s extra advertising for your company.
Include print, digital and/or web advertising in your plan depending on where you think clients and potential clients are most likely to see your ads.
Unless you have a great relationship with reporters who cover your industry or editors at trade publications in your field, it may be worth it to engage a PR or media relations professional. You may find that you only need to do this for important events. Or you may find that it’s worth it to reach out to reporters yourself. The choice is yours.
Event and networking costs
Trade shows can get you a lot of new leads in a short period of time, but branded booths, pop-up banners and even entrance fees can cost a pretty penny. Figure out what you’re likely to get a good ROI on and focus your marketing funds there.
Any other items specific to your industry.
Do you need to pay for memberships to trade organizations? Research software? What about subscriptions to analyst reports? This is where to budget for any other miscellaneous items.
Once you’ve covered all of these bases, make sure you frequently and consistently measure return on investment and alter your plan and budget accordingly. Then next year, you can cut or expand your marketing budget for even more success.