How much should you spend on marketing?

One of the first questions clients often ask is how much to budget to effectively market their businesses.
The answer? It depends. There are four things to consider when first developing your marketing budget.

Industry research and norms

Since 2008, The CMO Survey, underwritten by the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Deloitte LLP, and the American Marketing Association, has polled senior marketers twice a year about their marketing spending. One key finding is that marketers are planning significant spending increases in 2017 and beyond, particularly in social, mobile, and analytics.
Marketing budgets – just like any other expense or investment – vary by industry.

The CMO Survey says marketing budgets account for, on average, about 11 percent of total budgets. But just plugging in that percentage may not be what’s needed to achieve your goals.


Let’s say your top-line sales are right where you want them. If your goal is maintenance, the general rule is to spend between 5 and 8 percent on marketing.
However, if you are trying to build brand awareness, drive traffic, or generate leads, consider a bigger investment. Ask these questions:

  • Is your brand known in the market?
  • Have you defined your target market?
  • Is your brand part of the target market’s consideration set?
  • Are you launching a new product or service?
  • Are you reaching new customers and effectively building brand ambassadors with existing customer?


Once you’ve defined your goals and target market, you can develop the marketing strategy and select proper tactics. At S&A Communications, we say that there is no cookie-cutter marketing formula. Developing the right messaging to differentiate your brand, and getting that message out to your target markets, is an individualized process distinct to your brand.
An effective marketing plan may involve brand development and messaging, executive branding, content marketing, social media strategy and management, media relations, and community outreach.

Also consider whether your budget can cover media, advertising and marketing expenses such as: digital display ads, in-banner video, retargeting, website design and development, landing pages, search engine marketing, email campaigns, social media ads, broadcast or subscription television, and radio, print ads, promotions, and event and expo signage and exhibits.


If you don’t have in-house expertise, it’s critical to engage marketing professionals to develop a strategy in line with your business goals and to implement the tactics. The cost of hiring an agency or individual can be factored into your overall marketing investment or allocated to general, administrative or sales expenses, like about half of businesses do, according to the CMO Survey.

Closing thought

There is a lot to consider in developing a marketing budget, determining a marketing strategy, and implementing a plan. Using a professional saves you time and money because you avoid the false starts that come with trying to do it yourself, and keeps you focused on running your business.
Need help? Let’s talk!

Author: Deneen Winters Bloom
Deneen Winters Bloom is our Director of Client Services.

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