Compare tactics, analyse seasonal effects – was one quarter more profitable than another.

Forward planning is essential in any part of your business, and marketing is no different. It allows you to designate cash in a strategic way, so that your bucks are able to achieve maximum bang.

According to communications consultant Caron Beesley, as a general rule, small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate seven to eight percent of their revenue to this area.

This percentage also assumes you have margins in the range of 10 to 12 percent,” she writes on the US Small Business Administration blog.

“If your margins are lower than this, then you might consider eating into more of the costs of doing business by lowering your overall margins and allocating additional spending to marketing.”

“Knowing how much you have to spend on marketing is critical; even more critical is how you spend it,” Beesley says.

“This means having a plan. Your small business marketing budget should be a component of your marketing plan, outlining the costs of how you are going to achieve your marketing goals within a certain timeframe.”

Presuming you already have a website, the first month in a 12-month plan, for example, could involve spending money on ensuring that your content is well structured and current, as well as signing your business up to relevant social media platforms and online business directories.

Yellow Pages Online attracts more than 107 million visits annually and search engines like Google favour it in search results because it is a reputable business directory.  

In the second and third months, your budget could be spent on optimising content on your website so that you start to gain benefits from search engine optimisation. This means potential customers can find you more easily on the internet.

Months four and five may involve allocating your budget to search engine marketing, including identifying which keywords work for you. Here’s some tips on getting the most from your SEM campaigns.

At the halfway point, month six, you could consider really starting to expand on your content across all platforms and try to increase your followers on social media as well as engage with them.

For the next few months following this you might concentrate on another refreshment of the content on your website, and practice posting links, or 'alerts', on social media back to the new content.

From 10 to 12 months consider further ramping up your content creation – spend time, and money, becoming a voice in your industry, thus bringing eyeballs to your website to see what you have to say about interesting industry issues.

After the first year it's especially important to compare your results with your spending via the data that your marketing offers. At Sensis, we offer Advertiser Performance Reports (APR) so that you can track the leads you get ensuring you get your money’s worth.

For Yellow Pages, they show the amount of times your listing shows up in an internet search in addition to the number of people who have clicked on your ad and how many people have contacted your business through the ad.

Beesley says it’s important to have a plan in place for measuring your spending and the impact that activities have on your bottom line. “Compare tactics, analyse seasonal effects – was one quarter more profitable than another?”

“Above all, have patience and follow through on all your marketing efforts across the organisation – it takes a village to build and grow a brand.”

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