Marketing budgets may take time to develop and implement as you decide which expenses you should start with and where you should allocate funds once your marketing budget is approved.
You likely want to see measurable results from the things you choose to spend your money on, and sample budgets can help you to conceptualize your own marketing budget.
Let's look at how you can create a marketing budget and allocate funds to the aspects that align with your organization's goals.
A Look At Your Marketing Budget
A marketing budget is an allocation of funds dedicated to marketing efforts at your company. A marketing budget should outline all the money you intend to spend annually or quarterly on projects related to marketing.
Some of the expenses you can add to your marketing budget include:
- A registered blog domain
- Marketing automation software
- New marketing staff
- Email marketing
- Sponsored web content
It may be difficult to understand how much of your budget should be allocated to specific marketing projects if you run a small business. And if you run a large business, it may be hard to make sure everyone in the department gets what they need to operate efficiently.
What Is Your Marketing Budget?
It is probable that you've been asked this question more than once. You may wonder if there is a specific percentage of your overall yearly budget that you should dedicate to marketing.
That amount depends on your business' needs and what you hope to accomplish. Take a look at the recommendations below to help you decide how much you should be allocating to marketing each period.
New businesses or companies that have been in business anywhere from one to five years are suggested to allocate 12 to 20 percent of their projected revenue or total gross revenue on marketing.
Your goal should be to increase your brand awareness and capture a new market. This can only be done by allocating enough money to your marketing efforts.
Once your brand is well known, you can reduce your marketing budget.
Businesses that are established and have been in operation longer than five years with some amount of market share or brand equity should allocate about six to 12 percent of their projected gross or gross revenue.
Here are a few examples of the percentage of money companies spend on their marketing budget each year:
- In 2017, Johnson & Johnson spent 27.7 percent of revenue on administrative, sales, and marketing with an average revenue growth of 6.7 percent.
- In 2018, Microsoft allocated 15 percent of their revenue into marketing and sales with an average revenue growth of 14 percent.
- In 2017, MindBody invested 39 percent of their revenue revenue in marketing with an average of 31 percent revenue growth.
Marketing Budget Breakdown
Before you determine where to allocate your funds, it is important to keep a few things in mind when you plan how you are going to spread your marketing funds.
Here are some things you may consider when planning your budget breakdown.
Content creation and content marketing help to elevate brand awareness through videos, blogs, whitepapers, infographics, and other online materials. The primary goal of content creation is to get people to watch your video or read your blog post.
A secondary goal of content creation is to attract a defined target audience and nurture them until they take desirable actions, such as signing up for emails or purchasing a product or service.
It takes time and expertise to create content, and you must decide how much money you are willing to allocate on content creation.
When you think about how much you want to spend on content creation, consider the following things:
- What sort of content would I like to produce and how often will I produce fresh content?
- Should I hire one or more writers to produce consistent and high-quality blog posts?
- Should I hire or commission a graphic designer to make infographics or create images to pair with my other content?
- Do I need a videographer to make vlogs and other informational videos?
- What fees are associated with posting my content on websites with a high number of views?
Referral Programs and Customer Advocacy
Customer advocacy and referral programs can help you keep current customers happy, and they can provide you with new customers. This form of marketing gives you the best of both worlds. However, having a referral program usually involves rewarding your current customers, new customers, or both when they send a new customer your way.
The rewards may include discounts on future purchases, upgrades, early access to new products, or free services.
Here are some expenses you should consider when thinking about your current or future referral program:
- The cost associated with starting a referral program, if you don’t have one in place already.
- How much it costs to maintain your current referral program.
- The expenses associated with the referral rewards.
We live in a digital world where you need software to help with your marketing processes, campaigns, and printed materials. For example, you may need a CRM program to help you manage all of your interactions with current and future customers.
You may also need software such as:
- Email management system
- Social media management applications
- Content management system
- Analytics tools
When you develop your budget, you should consider:
- What software you need.
- The costs associated with acquiring the software.
- The true costs associated with using the software (hidden fees, etc.).
- If you are better off hiring developers to create your own software.
New Staff Members
When you make your marketing budget, it is important to consider the marketing department’s expansion. For example, if you know you are going to be posting ads to hire new personnel, then you must account for the expenses associated with hiring new marketing team members.
Here are some expenses to consider when you hire new staff:
- The cost of posting job ads online.
- The costs associated with onboarding.
- The price of new materials such as computers, benefits, and other technology.
- The salary of the new employees.
You also need to determine how much you will spend on paid advertising. Paid advertising includes social media ads, print ads, physical ads, SEO services, search engine ads, and sponsored content.
Here are a couple of things to consider:
- Where do I want to advertise based on my target audience?
- Which paid advertising channels will offer me the best return on investment?
- Are there free advertising channels that I can use to my advantage?
How to Create Your Marketing Budget
Creating a good marketing budget starts with understanding why you are creating the marketing budget. This means creating a marketing budget based on your current marketing strategy or plan. Here are some steps you can take to create the right marketing budget for you and your business:
1. Review Your Marketing Plan.
You’ll have a better idea of how much you’ll need to spend and what you want to spend it on when you review your marketing plan. Your marketing plan outlines the goals you would like to accomplish.
When you begin creating your budget, spend money on the things that will help you to accomplish your goals. Your goals should be based on your buyer’s journey, and they may look something like this:
- Gain 20 percent more social media followers within two months by paying for sponsored social media posts.
- Hire freelance bloggers to write high-quality copy to earn 40 percent more organic search traffic within six months.
Determine how much the goals in your marketing plan will cost to achieve and then budget accordingly.
2. Account For Hidden Costs.
There are always hidden costs associated with marketing because things either don’t go as planned with product launches and campaigns, or you may decide to pick up other random projects during the year.
The best way to combat hidden costs is to build some flexibility into your marketing budget for unforeseen expenses. Budget spreadsheets and templates are a great way to keep track of your spending so you don’t wonder what you spent your marketing money on at the end of the year.
3. Analyze Previous Marketing Budgets.
It is essential to analyze the historical data on old marketing budgets to get an idea of how much money to spend in the upcoming period. Analyzing this data allows you to see budgeting trends, including areas of decline and growth.
This helps you to decide what you need to invest more in and what you no longer need to invest in if it didn’t provide you with good returns in the previous year.
You will also see how your company’s budget spending has changed over the years, which may help you allocate the right amount of money to the proper marketing categories.
Crafting an accurate budget in the present is not possible without analyzing prior budgets.
4. Select Marketing Categories to Include in Your Budget.
Some of the marketing categories you need to allocate funds to will be apparent because you have set goals in your marketing plan surrounding those categories. But it is likely that other categories need your funds and attention as well.
For example, you might select to assign your funds to content marketing, social media, branding, events, sales prospecting, and staffing.
You will need to allocate a percentage of your spending on each category on a monthly basis depending on the goals you wish to accomplish.
Make sure to evaluate the expenses carefully to account for any expense changes as the months go on. For example, if you have an expense that has a one time fee or charge upfront and then the amount changes for the following months, make sure to account for that on your budget spreadsheet.
5. Prioritize Important Expenses.
Marketing has many upsell, add-on, and premium options associated with software and other necessary marketing tools.
The best way to assess what you need versus what you want for marketing is to keep track of your budget and to cross-check your spending. When you analyze your spending, you may find that you are spending money on unnecessary things that you can get rid of.
Focus strictly on your priorities while honing in on the audience you’d like to reach and influence, and ensure that your budget allows you to market to them in a way that they’ll want to receive and share your message.
6. Prepare to Calculate Your ROI.
As you spend your budget on a certain category, you will want to determine if the funds you allocated to specific categories have helped you or harmed you. You can make this determination by calculating your return on investment or ROI.
Each category will have a different return on investment or no return on investment. The categories that receive no return on investment should be reevaluated or cut in the budget for the following period because they only cost your company money rather than providing value.
Marketing Budget Examples to Get You Started
A software company has budgeted $600,000 to spend on their marketing efforts for a given period. Here is an example of how this company might budget and itemize their funds to various marketing categories.
These numbers and percentages are a sample, and your actual figures for your business will likely differ depending on your company's needs.
Inbound Content Marketing
15 - 20 Percent ($90 - $120K)
Inbound content marketing is a must for any business with a digital presence. It includes infographics, blogging, videos, case studies, whitepapers, podcasts, and other forms of useful content.
It is one of the easiest and best ways to attract new prospects who convert into qualified leads. Investing in inbound content marketing can also provide you with a great return on investment.
5 - 12 Percent ($30 - $72K)
Traditional marketing is any form of marketing that does not take place online. This includes direct mail, print, broadcast radio, and billboard advertising.
This form of marketing can still be relevant and important because everyone including your target market encounters traditional marketing each day. You may not see immediate returns with this marketing category, but it is reputable as the oldest marketing method and might be impactful, depending on your industry and your audience's preferences.
Search Engine Marketing and Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
25 - 30 Percent ($150 - $180K)
Search engine marketing or SEM, includes general SEO as well as pay-per-click (PPC) ads. PPC ads include Google Ads that can bring good returns with high-quality copy and the right audience. Ads on social media also produce a great ROI, and they allow you the opportunity to get creative and communicate well with your target market.
The goal of this part of your marketing budget should be to optimize your digital ads to promote your content. If you are just starting out, try testing out paid ads with smaller investments and adjust your budget according to the results.
5 - 8 Percent ($30 - $48K)
Email is an easy and effective channel that helps you nurture and retain leads. Email marketing helps you to continue providing your audience with value after they exit your website.
Public Relations and Influencer Marketing
20 - 22 Percent ($120 - $132K)
Public relations helps you build a better brand presence, and working with niche influencers can help boost your brand recognition. Including these items in your budget help position your business favorably in the marketplace and increase the popularity and awareness of your brand.
15 - 20 Percent ($90 - $120K)
Your website is often the first impression your customers will have of your business. Think of it as a digital storefront. It needs to be designed well to be visually appealing and to convert site visitors.
To accomplish conversions, you’ll want to consider investing in fresh content and website design and development that is SEO-friendly and leads visitors into your sales funnel.
Websites are never finished and take constant work, and it's important to invest in the necessary tools and personnel who can help you keep up with your website and develop it further.
The marketing budget you and your team work on together to create is going to be unique to the specific needs of your company. Crafting the right marketing budget can help you to accomplish multiple goals within your organization. Therefore, it is important to keep your budget organized using a spreadsheet to help you track your spending efficiently.
Erika is a Marketing Copywriter at Bluleadz. She is a huge fan of houseplants and podcasts about conspiracy theories. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, and enjoying the outdoors.