We all know having a strong marketing strategy in place for your business is absolutely vital to its success. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “You have to spend money to make money,” but is this true when it comes to developing a marketing budget? We’d like to offer some practical advice for how to market your company when you don’t want to break the bank.

How do you market for your business when you are on a budget? Let’s dive in!

Why Does Your Marketing Budget Matter?

One of the best ways to make sure that your marketing money is being well spent is to develop a thorough marketing strategy and come up with a rock-solid marketing plan. Following a well-defined plan will help ensure you’re spending your marketing budget wisely.

What exactly is a marketing budget? According to WebFX, a marketing budget documents how much your business plans to spend on marketing over a specific period, whether a year, quarter or month. When budgeting for marketing, consider all costs associated, such as paid ads, hiring costs, marketing tools, website maintenance expenses and more.

A marketing budget documents how much your business plans to spend on marketing over a specific period.

Now that you understand what a marketing budget is, why exactly does it matter? WebFX breaks it down into the top five reasons why you need a marketing budget:

1. It helps you stay on track financially.

When you create a marketing budget, you’ll be able to keep track of how much you spend on each strategy, as well as whether you’re overspending and or could spend more. If you skip creating a marketing budget, you’ll likely find yourself overspending, which might put your business in a rut.

2. Marketing budgets help you distribute funds to the right places.

A marketing budget plan will help you put your marketing funds in the right place. When you know how much you can spend, you know how much you can put into each aspect of your marketing strategy. It allows you to determine how a marketing strategy will work within your budget, or if a digital marketing company’s services fit within your budget.

3. It helps you set benchmarks and goals.

Having a well-defined budget helps you set realistic benchmarks and goals that move your business forward. Based on your marketing budget, you can set realistic expectations for various marketing channels and better understand the revenue you need to earn to make your marketing efforts worthwhile.

4. It helps you plan long-term.

Planning your entire 2021 marketing budget ahead of time gives you more certainty and allows you to create a longer-term plan for your marketing. This long-term perspective prevents you from having to fight for additional marketing dollars throughout the year or stop campaigns because of funding challenges. While you want to build some flexibility into your budget, a long-term funding plan enables you to create a more consistent and effective marketing strategy.

5. It’s an investment in your business’s growth

When you think about budgeting for marketing, you might see marketing as just another cost for your business.

It’s important to note that marketing isn’t a cost, it’s an investment in your business’s growth and development. By learning how to create a strategic marketing budget, you’ll help your business get the most out of your investment.

In addition, most businesses are dealing with multiple projects at a time that need to be prioritized. Having a marketing budget gives your team the clarity they need to funnel your budget into projects that will make the most meaningful impact on for your company.

CoSchedule also offers three additional reasons your team should care about your marketing budget:

Creating a smart and strong marketing budget with your team is key to marketing success.

1. Use it or lose it. If you can’t justify the cash flow your team needs, your organization will spend it somewhere else.

2. Prove your projects are creating growth for your company. Knowing how much you’re spending on your marketing strategy as a whole can help paint a clearer picture around how much return on investment you’re generating too.

3. Provide reasoning for your allotted budget. When your company’s finance department turns to your marketing heads to determine how much investment you’ll be getting for the following year, having a document that outlines your needs can help build a case and show where all that money is going.

What Are My Low-Budget Marketing Options?

Now that you know what a marketing budget is and why it matters, let’s examine some foolproof tactics you can use within your marketing strategy!

One of the best things you can do when it comes to saving money within your marketing budget is prioritizing your most-used marketing tactics and funneling your money into those services. A good rule of thumb is to spend about 10 percent of your gross annual revenue on marketing. Another option is to invest your time and money into multiple low-budget marketing tools. Entrepreneur provides 30 low-budget marketing ideas, but let’s focus on my personal top six:

1. Collect email addresses and send out a newsletter.

Email is far from dead. In fact, it’s the preferred communication method among customers. It is important to make sure you’re growing and nurturing your email lists. You can inspire new sign-ups with incentives like eBooks. I suggest using a low-cost or free service like MailChimp within your marketing strategy to make your life easier.

As for your newsletter, if your business has a blog, you can send out an accompanying newsletter. Consider creating a private newsletter with different content from your blog to make your subscribers feel like they’re getting additional value from their subscription.

Overall, email marketing is a fantastic way to keep your marketing budget in check. Don’t miss out on a great low-budget opportunity to connect with your audience.

2. Take advantage of Instagram and Pinterest.

Instagram and Pinterest are both terrific platforms to tell your brand’s story visually. Best of all, they costs little to nothing since most social media apps are free! Taking advantage of social media apps is a great way to keep your marketing budget in check.

What kinds of photos and content should you publish? Here are some suggestions for your marketing strategy:

  • Behind-the-scenes looks at your business.
  • Images that show your products in a flattering way.
  • Memes.
  • Hashtags and geo-targeting.
  • Short videos sharing advice.
  • Image testimonials from existing customers.
  • Customer images showing how they use your products or services.
  • Promotional opportunities.

3. Get involved with your community.

Often when people think of marketing, they think of a large-scale national campaign. Sometimes it’s helpful to think smaller and see what’s going on your community.

Can your business sponsor a 5K charity walk or a little league team? Is there a charity or non-profit where your business could volunteer? Could your business organize a virtual event with other local businesses? Can your business print out bookmarks and leave them at your local library? Getting involved with your community helps your business expand its reach, and costs almost nothing to implement in your marketing strategy!

When it comes to saving money within your marketing budget, prioritizing your most-used marketing tactics is one of the best things you can do.

4. Ask for referrals.

Entrepreneur states, “Referrals are the most effective and cost-effective way to generate new business.” The problem is that we often feel awkward when asking for referrals. Even worse, you might worry your request will come off as a bit desperate.

Have no fear! Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to ask for a referral without having to feel awkward or desperate. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Just be direct and just ask for referrals through an email, online, in person or at the bottom of your invoices.
  • Focus on asking your best client or customers, instead of all of them.
  • Entrepreneur suggests you offer incentives. Such as, a gift card, percentage off of future work, a small gift or charitable donation in their name.
  • Make it easy for customers to refer others, possibly using an email script or recommend function on your site.
  • Give referrals.
  • Ask your customers to like your Facebook page.
  • Join a referral or professional networking group.

5. Repurpose your content.

Do you have some old content out there? If so, you can breathe new life into it by recycling it. For example, you could take a study you conducted and make it into an infographic. That collection of blog posts on a specific topic could be used for an eBook. The podcast you just taped could become a YouTube video. There are limitless ways to repurpose your content within your marketing strategy! Repurposing is one of the best ways to stick to your marketing budget and not break the bank.

6. Give it away.

This may sound counterproductive, but don’t hesitate to offer people a free trial of your service or a free sample of your product. If they like what you’re offering, they won’t have any problems purchasing more of your products or services since they had a chance to “try before you buy.” This also helps encourage users to share your product or services to their friends, colleagues or family. Don’t underestimate word-of-mouth advertising!

Bringing It All Together

Saving money can be tricky, but budgeting your marketing correctly makes all the difference.

Part of running a successful business is investing in a strong marketing strategy. While it takes time and resources, the payoff is worth it, especially if your business is working with a small budget!

As you know, however, you want to make sure you’re spending your funds correctly. By taking the time to actually think through your goals, how you’ll achieve them and the various costs of your marketing strategy, you’ll be able to develop a comprehensive marketing budget and reduce unexpected costs that may arise.

Read more: How to Budget Your Time Like You Budget Money