The Typical Marketing Budget for a Startup: A Helpful Guide

Are you trying to learn about the typical marketing budget for a startup? If yes, you should check out our guide here to learn what small businesses spend.



In the current economic climate, blowing the budget isn’t an option for anyone.

Startups are no exception. They have to break through without overspending in the process. This tough balancing act is where many entrepreneurs and marketers fail.


The good news is you can rely on the wealth of industry information. In particular, it’s worth examining the typical marketing budget for a startup across sectors. This kind of probing lays the foundations for optimally distributing precious resources.


Here are some benchmarking data you can harness for vital insights and rules of thumbs.


Typical Marketing Budget for a Startup in Numbers

Marketing budgets fuel advertising, branding, marketing, public relations, and other promotional activities.


They cover both marketing fundamentals and day-to-day stuff, from SEO to social media. The first rule is that size and stage of the businesses profoundly shape the spending levels and patterns. Here, the US Small Business Administration has some useful guidance to offer.

It recommends small businesses allocate 7-8% of gross revenue to marketing. That’s more than what established corporations are advised to dedicate (6-12%). The bare minimum should be 5%, although some put forward 2%.


We can also express the average figures as the percentage of the total company budget. According to the CMO survey, in 2020, we’ll reach the new historic high— 12%.


The upward trajectory is expected to continue despite the ravaging effects of the Pandemic.


Accounting for Factors of Variance

In practice, the numbers may fluctuate based on various factors.


Some of them are your marketing objectives and the industry sector you operate in. How much your direct competitors are spending is an important consideration as well.

This all brings us to the next point.


The figures we showcased above should only be seen as suggestions. Each startup’s position is unique to an extent and specific numbers depend on your marketing fundamentals.


If you still don’t have a website, for instance, exceeding the average budget is a very realistic scenario. On the other hand, if your digital strategy and presence are set up, you can afford to pull a break on spending a bit.


Flexibility for Good Measure

Lastly, bear in mind that annual marketing budgets are seldom static.


Campaigns are in flux, constantly changing. Therefore, you need to harness the power of analytics and big data. Track your performance via key performance indicators (KPIs) such as conversion rates.


Do it across marketing channels you use. Adjust spending according to past experiences and new insights.


Do your best to seize opportunities as they emerge and refine your approach on the fly.  Play to your strengths and address the weaknesses. That’s the way to overcome growing pains and thrive in a competitive landscape of today.


Make the Most of Your Marketing Dollars

A typical marketing budget for a startup is a great rough sketch for drawing your own budget.

It’s certainly not a hard rule and there’s a lot of variation out there in the field. What you have to do is put together a well-thought-out plan. It must suit your specific business case, appetites, and needs.


Ultimately, remember marketing isn’t just some expense or luxury. It’s an investment in your future, a driver of revenue. So, be careful not to squeeze the belt too tight.


Browse our marketing section to discover more actionable tips. Knowledge holds the key to making informed decisions and maximizing your ROI.

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