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Creating a realistic marketing budget is one of the most important things that you can do to ensure the success of your small business. Some business owners worry that setting a marketing budget ahead of time might lead to extra expenses that could diminish any profit early on.

The fact is, however, that marketing is a key ongoing business investment and it will bring you a better return in the long run as long as you design your budget carefully.

Here are three key points to consider as you get started to create a realistic marketing budget for your business.

1. Budget Time As Well As Money

Marketing has always required some investment of time, since TV advertising, direct mail and even digital marketing can all be time-consuming.

In today’s digital world, time invested in marketing can bring a larger return than ever before. Marketing can increase brand awareness, conversions, word of mouth referrals, and so much more. It’s important to realize that you’ll need to play around with some strategies in order to find out what works best for your business.

This may require some time and effort on your end especially if you don’t want to outsource everything to a digital marketing agency. Realize that budgeting your time can help you save money and potentially be more beneficial in the beginning stages since you’ll be more hands-on.

2. Tie Marketing Decisions To Goals

While you may get various pieces of advice regarding what percentage of total revenue you should invest in marketing, these figures are not as useful as the ones you’ll develop by examining your unique business situation.

For example, if you’re a small local shop just starting out, you will need to dedicate a higher percentage of your total budget to marketing during your first few seasons. If you are offering a new product line, seeking wider brand awareness. If not, facing aggressive competition, your marketing budget will necessarily reflect these facts.

To create a realistic budget, it’s best to list out your actual goals first. Then develop a marketing plan based on what you can afford to spend. Next, figure out your timeline for reaching those goals.

3. Focus On Mobile Marketing

Small businesses now spend nearly half of marketing budget on digital channels. They should because most people spend lots of time online, on their mobile devices, or watching T.V. If you aren’t taking advantage of mobile advertising, your business is becoming less and less visible.

Consider diversifying your marketing techniques and utilize your business website to try organic and paid methods like building your email list, sharing video content, social media promotions and more.

Choose which free techniques you’d like to implement along with the marketing tactics you feel confident investing in. Marketing is all about experimentation as you discover which approaches work best. Unlike traditional marketing methods that relied on print or broadcast media, digital marketing all happens in real time. It allows you to have a more flexible budget since there is a variety of options.

With mobile marketing, you receive immediate feedback on which campaigns are working well. You can change your strategy for little or no added cost. Even if you’re not an expert, the task of marketing has become easier and less risky than ever before.

Realistic Marketing Budget Summary

Don’t underestimate the importance of marketing your small business and developing an ongoing marketing budget. Realize that by creating a realistic budget, you can work toward your specific goals. You can do this without having to worry about spending too much money at one time.