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Updated: June 10, 2019 How To

Here's how to determine your marketing budget

Nancy Marshall
Nancy Marshall

If you want to grow your business, you can’t do it without marketing. But not all marketing is created equally.

The best marketing campaigns are strategic, leveraging messages that not only resonate with your target audience, but also motivate them to take action — by paying for your product or service. As marketing guru Joe Chernov puts it, “Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.”

Strategic marketing begins with a budget. It’s important to set aside the proper funds, and it’s even more important to track the return on investment. Throwing money at marketing isn’t enough; you must figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Now, take out your calculator! When establishing a marketing budget, my general rule of thumb is to use “gap budgeting.” Count up your total revenues today, and project where you want to be in one year. That gap between current and projected revenues is your starting point. Depending on your financial situation, your marketing budget should be anywhere between 7% and 15% of the gap.

Marketing is more than a Facebook ad here or there. Your budget should take into account all marketing-related expenditures, including salaries of relevant personnel, paid advertising (on all platforms), organic social media posts, promotional events, and public relations, among other expenses.

Perhaps the most important expense is content marketing. Think of content marketing as the use of created content — such as op-ed columns, website blog posts and YouTube videos — to promote your brand and position yourself as an authority in your field. The best content answers the most frequently asked questions about your product or service. Moreover, it portrays you as the white knight who will swoop in and solve all your customers’ most pressing problems.

Take Amazon, one of the world’s most powerful companies. When you see an Amazon commercial, you’re made to believe that their website is a one-stop shop for everything that you could possibly need. Need a new TV? Amazon can help. Need groceries? Amazon can help. After a while, Amazon becomes the authority in e-commerce.

Through content creation, you can apply that same logic to your brand too. If you sell swimming pools, you want to position yourself as the most trusted, knowledgeable authority on everything related to buying, installing and maintaining a swimming pool. You can write “How To” blog posts on your website, or produce YouTube videos showing customers how to take care of their swimming pool.

Once people come to your website, make sure to get an email address to add to a subscriber list. At least once a month send an e-newsletter with helpful information. The emphasis is on helpful information, not spam.

Your goal is to show Google and other search engines that you are able to “serve up” content that is current, accurate and helpful. You want to make your brand “findable” and authoritative by consistently creating worthwhile content on your website and high-quality inbound links from other websites such as news outlets, Wikipedia pages and so forth.

The trick is finding the right people to create that prime content:

  • Hire writers or find in-house employees to draft written content
  • Hire videographers to produce informational videos or vlogs
  • Hire graphic designers to create infographics
  • Hire photographers to shoot and edit high-quality photos
  • Hire a technical team to help you with a podcast

All businesses are people businesses. Find the right ones, and you too can become a successful content creator. You too can become a marketing guru — and see your brand blossom.

Nancy Marshall is founder and CEO of Marshall Communications and host of “The PR Maven” podcast. She can be reached at

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