How Much Should You Spend on Marketing?

When I started my business ten years ago, my first client asked me how much they should be spending on marketing. I remember it clear as day. All these years later, this is still a discussion I have with almost every client. Everyone wants to know the magic number, because we know if we don’t spend enough, we won’t get results, and if we spend too much, we’ll waste money. 

So how much money should you spend on marketing?

Below are a few guidelines I use when helping my clients figure out their marketing budgets for the year…

  • Most service- based businesses should consider taking 8-10% of their top line revenue and setting that aside for their marketing. That’s an all- in number and includes ALL your marketing costs including media, marketing consultants, printing costs, website updates, SEO, graphic design, email marketing, video production, social media and marketing software. 
  • For businesses that need a constant flow of leads like home improvement companies, coaches, financial planners and real estate brokers the number is higher. These types of businesses should have a marketing budget that is 15-17% of their top line revenue. That’s because they need to consistently generate leads which takes more time, effort and budget. 

The exception to these rules would be start-ups. If you’re a new business, you have to be really careful in how you spend your marketing dollars. Once you create your logo, website and business cards all other marketing spending should be closely tied to an ROI if possible, because you don’t want to let your marketing costs get out of control this early in the game. 

Obviously, you need to spend money to make money, but keep track of the money you’re spending and also track the results. If it isn’t producing, then stop doing it. Don’t keep spending on money something that doesn’t work.


About the Author: Meg Huwar is a small business marketing expert and Principal of Brand Accelerator. She and her team work with companies who want to market their business but don’t have the time, experience or staff to do it themselves. Meg can be reached at or 412-848-8822.

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