How to Plan a Marketing Budget [PLUS TEMPLATE]

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A business owner plans a digital marketing budget

One of the biggest challenges of creating and implementing a marketing campaign is knowing where to put your money. We all know that the holy grail of marketing is to create a campaign that delivers a positive return on investment (ROI), but the reality is that it takes time to build your campaigns to that point and you need to make sure that you have enough money to get there.

You can think of it as like driving towards a destination, in that you need to ensure that you have enough fuel before you leave. You might be able to top up your fuel (or your budget) along the way, but not if you use up all of your fuel before you reach a gas station.

But if you’ve never planned a marketing budget before then it can be difficult to get started, and that’s where today’s article comes in. We have plenty of experience of working with both individuals and marketing agencies, and today’s post brings together everything we’ve learned throughout the years. Let’s go ahead and take a look.

What is a Good Marketing Budget for a Small Business?

This question is a difficult one to answer because it’s a “how long is a piece of string” question. Still, on average, analysts and experts say that the average marketing budget is usually somewhere between 7-12% of overall revenue. We’ve also written previously about what a good marketing budget looks like, and so you can check out the article that we wrote about it for more.

Still, we find that most businesses need to set aside between $5,000 – $10,000 for most small, one-time projects, as well as a recurring budget of $2,000 – $4,000 for at least six months to set up a retainer for a marketing channel like social media, pay per click or SEO.

In most cases, small businesses need a strong website before they do anything else, because that will help them to get their name out there and then when referrals come their way, they won’t browse away because of a lacklustre site. Once your website’s in place, it’s time for you to start work on content and inbound marketing so that people come to you instead of you having to rely on going out and interrupting them.

Remember too that you’ll want to track your key metrics to determine whether your campaign is effective or not. The ultimate goal is to make a positive return on investment (ROI), and the only way to do that is to track your progress along the way.

Tip: It pays to spend time reading, and we’re not just talking about blog posts like this one. There are a ton of great books on marketing out there, and reading those will give you a solid understanding of the fundamentals and even allow you to do some of the grunt work yourself if money is tight. We recommend This is Marketing, Story Brand and Inbound Marketing, to name just a few.


Marketing Budget Template

Use this simple marketing budget template to identify which areas of marketing you want to focus on and how likely it is to help you support your goals. It will also help you track the actual expenses tied to the type of marketing you are doing. 

Alignment to business goals: Here you rank from 1-10 how likely this type of marketing will allow you to hit your business goals

Projected Expense: Make an estimate of how much you think this type of marketing will cost your business.

Actual Expense: After speaking to agencies and contractors, estimate how much this type of marketing will cost you including internal and external expenses

Time to success: How long is it estimated that this type of marketing will return on it’s investment. For example PPC and Influencer Marketing should be shorter than SEO.

Company Name:

Company Budget:

Expected Duration:

Marketing Channel Alignment to business goal (1-10) Projected Expense Actual Expense Time to success
Digital Marketing        
Offline Marketing        
Inbound Marketing        
Outbound Marketing        
Content Marketing        
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)        
Growth Marketing        
B2B Marketing        
B2C Marketing        
Affiliate Marketing        
Social Media Marketing        
Brand Marketing        
Direct Marketing        
Influencer Marketing        
Email Marketing        
Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM)        
Event Marketing        
Guerrilla Marketing        
Amazon Marketing        

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What’s Next?

Now that you know the best way to create a marketing budget plan, the next step is for you to search for an agency that can help you to develop and implement your marketing plan. The good news is that we have plenty of contacts to help you to find the perfect agency for you and your business.

And so if you’re ready to take your marketing to the next step, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you!

Written By
Picture of Behdad Jamshidi
Behdad Jamshidi
Behdad Jamshidi started CJAM Marketing after realizing that most business owners don’t know how to evaluate the value of a marketing agency or assess their own needs. Since every business is different not only in their needs but where they are at in the growth process, it isn’t a one size fits all. In the past 5 years, Behdad (or Bee) has met with and assessed 800+ marketing agencies and vetted them down to a lean 100 preferred partners across all marketing niches. After pairing hundreds of businesses with the right partners, he’s found his skillset lies in the matchmaking process. Featured in MarketWatch, Bloomberg, National Post and the Financial Post, Bee’s unique background in marketing, engineering, consulting, leadership, sales and strategy, has allowed him to serve as the conduit between business owners and the marketing teams they need.
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