One of the very first questions we ask during our initial consultation is ‘What is your budget?’ The standard answer is 'I don’t know'. Research will give you a wide range of recommendations, all based on your annual revenue. As an example, counselors to America’s Small Business (SCORE) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommend a marketing budget to be between 2% and 10% of sales. They also note that the amount can exceed 20% during peak ‘Brand-Building’ years. Sadly, the trend we see from small business owners is to skimp on the marketing budget early on. That’s completely opposite of what is proven to work.
Most businesses manage their cash flow by cutting or saving on their marketing budgets, thinking that to not spend is to save. This is quite simply, wrong. The trick is to spend your money wisely on a tailored marketing plan aimed at achieving your company’s sales goals. Remember, your marketing efforts have a direct bearing on your revenue. Here is a direct quote from SCORE: “Often, small businesses estimate their sales revenue, cost-of-goods, overhead and salaries, and then gross profit. Anything left is considered available funds for marketing support. That’s not such a good idea…..If you are the new competitor in the marketplace; you will have to spend more aggressively to establish your market share objective.”
Once you have a Marketing Budget, you’ll need to list the ‘marketing’ line items. As an example:
1. Business Cards
3. Telephone Book Listing
4. Store Signage
5. Web Site Development
6. Website Hosting
7. Newspaper Ads
8. Misc Print Ads
If you are an existing business, chances are when you add all the costs associated with what you are already spending in these categories, you’ll think you have little or no money left over for a custom website. This is the trap many small business owners fall into. At this point your options are either to decrease the amount you spend on non-web related activities, or increase your budget. The fact of the matter is that today, the biggest bang for the buck comes from online marketing. Ignore your Internet Presence, and you are losing the opportunity to reach a vast audience 24x7.
Don’t make the mistake of going with the first ‘low cost’ website solution either. You’ll want to work with someone who will be able to design and develop a web presence for you that will produce the results you expect. All websites are not created equal. There are several blog postings here that can help educate you before selecting a web design firm. I'd strongly recommend reading Yellow Pages vs Google Search, Do you need to ensure your website is Mobile Friendly?, Checklist for Hiring a Design Firm, and What Characteristics do all Successful Web Designers Share.