(This article was originally written by me and published as Developing a Small Business Marketing Budget on Technorati.)
Many small business owners feel like they’re running their business on a shoestring budget, and of course, that wasn’t the intention when they set out to follow their passion in their own business. Just like many young families have to pull back the reigns on spending and follow a budget, the smart business owner must develop a plan and then stick to the plan in order to become profitable. The Small Business Administration offers some help with budgeting in all areas of business expenses but determining the ideal marketing budget doesn’t seem quite as straight forward as other expense areas such as rent or salaries.
You will find many different formulas for the ideal amount to spend on marketing including a percentage of sales, a flat dollar amount, or matching the competition — and of course the ideal amount will depend on your industry, the age of your business and how competitive your marketplace is.
Another approach is to determine the value of new clients and how much you’re willing to spend in order to acquire those clients.
A physician wants to add a new service to his practice for which he will charge $1,000 (it’s a cash procedure – no insurance.)
This is a one time procedure and we’re ignoring the upsell potential as well as the fact that the patient will likely return over the next few years for other types of procedures. This physician is really good and expects to get lots of referrals from his patients but we’ll assume only one referral for every two patients (0.5). His practice overhead is roughly 50% so his profit is 50%. He wants to perform this procedure three times per week over the next twelve months which means 150 new patients (he’ll take two weeks off for vacation). He only wants to pay for acquiring ONE new patient out of every three (0.33).
This physician can easily see that spending less than $3,500/month to advertise and market this new procedure will net a profit of, at the very least, over $75,000 per year, and he knows that it will be even more when those new patients remain his patients and come back for more procedures. In other words, for every $1 he spends on marketing, he’ll make at least $3.
Now with your number in hand, it is especially important to focus those limited dollars on the most cost effective methods of reaching your prospects — and even more important to track the ROI of those efforts.