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  • Writer's pictureNat Sharp

Why every small business needs a marketing budget


Steering your business toward success: The unmissable importance of a marketing budget

In the whirlwind world of business, where every penny counts, crafting a thoughtful marketing budget might not seem like a top priority. However, I’m here to tell you it should be right up there on your important list of things to do. And, if you have staff and are working out budgets for the next financial year then this is the time you should be preparing your marketing budget too. Why, you ask? Because a well-planned marketing budget ensures you don’t just survive but truly thrive.

The importance of planning

At first glance, operating on a pay-as-you-go basis might seem appealing, especially with the myriad of marketing channels at our disposal today. It gives a sense of flexibility, right? But this approach is akin to setting sail without a compass, making it too easy to veer off course. Allocating an annual marketing budget offers a strategic map for your business to follow, ensuring every decision you make is measured, intentional, and impactful.

1. Right spending, right results

Determining the correct amount to allocate to marketing is a delicate balancing act. Spend too little, and your voice drowns in the market. Spend too much, and you risk compromising other critical areas of your business. A thoughtful budget helps you hit that sweet spot, where your investment in marketing drives growth without putting your business at risk.  Read my blog ‘how to prepare your marketing budget’ for guidance here.

2. Year-round vigilance

It’s startlingly easy to exhaust your resources in the early enthusiasm of the financial year or, conversely, hoard them for a rainy day that never comes. More often, I see businesses running out of budget far too quickly or at least committing the spend. A dedicated marketing budget keeps your spending on an even keel, ensuring you have the means to engage your audience throughout the year, in peak seasons and quiet periods alike.

3. Strategic allocation

Not all marketing channels are created equal. Some will offer a hearty return on investment (ROI), while others might not yield the benefits you’re hoping for. Yes of course, it depends what you're trying to achieve with your marketing and I'm very pro brand awareness but you need to strike the right balance. Having a budget forces you to scrutinise each option, assess their merits, and distribute your resources in a manner that maximises impact. It’s about working smarter, not harder.  When I work with clients, I work out return on investment projections to assess if something is viable. You should be aiming for most marketing campaigns to achieve a minimum return of investment of 5:1.

4. Fostering forward-thinking

Pre-allocated funding compels you to plan ahead, mapping out your marketing strategy with precision and care. This premeditated approach prevents knee-jerk reactions to market trends, enabling you to carve out a clear, consistent message that resonates with your audience, building brand loyalty in the process.

5. Cash flow clarity

Predictability in business is invaluable. A marketing budget offers visibility into when costs will hit your business, allowing you to plan accordingly. This foresight is crucial in managing your cash flow effectively, ensuring that your business remains financially healthy whilst agile, so you’re ready to seize opportunities as they arise.

6. Negotiating power

When suppliers see that you’re committed to regular engagements or bulk purchases, it opens the door to negotiations, allowing you to secure more favourable terms and prices. In the long run, these economies of scale can make a significant difference in your business’s bottom line.

The path forward

Crafting a comprehensive marketing budget might seem daunting at first, especially for small business owners juggling myriad responsibilities. Yet, the effort is well worth it. It not only illuminates your path forward but also embeds a strategic discipline into the fabric of your business. Taking the time to plan your marketing expenditure is more than a financial exercise; it’s a commitment to the growth and longevity of your business.

Remember, the goal of a marketing budget isn’t to constrain you but to empower you. It’s about making informed decisions that align with your business values and ambitions. In doing so, you don’t just survive the competitive tides; you set a course to conquer them. Now, isn’t that a voyage worth preparing for?

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