How to set your PR and marketing budget

The financial year is nearly at an end – time to think about your marketing budget!

Money for your marketing budget

The Chancellor has just set his Budget and as we near April and a new financial year, many businesses will also be planning their 2016-17 spend. As you plan your budget (regardless of the time of year you do it), remember that it’s worthwhile setting aside something for marketing and PR. After all, to win new business, you’ll need people to know about you!

While it is possible to market your business on a low budget, it’s nonetheless a good idea to plan some spend – marketing is a vital investment for your business to prosper and grow.

Here are my tips on things to consider when setting your marketing budget:

1. Review what you did last year, what it cost and what you gained

Begin by looking at what you did last year. Which marketing channels did you use (email marketing, social media, your website, press coverage, leaflets, adverts etc.) and how much time and money did you spend on them?

What results did you get for each channel?

By analysing your past activity, you’ll get a better understanding of what works for your business and, perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. This will help you allocate your money to where it is most effective, increasing your return on investment, and saving you money on things that haven’t worked. Understanding what hasn’t worked and why will also help you improve your marketing and PR tactics over the coming year.

Tip: Remember to account for time as well as money. Some activity might be relatively cheap or free but if it’s a drain on your (or your staff’s) time, that’s also costing you money.

2. What outcomes do you want your investment in marketing and PR to deliver?

I’ve touched on the importance of planning your PR and marketing strategy in previous posts. Deciding your budget should be part of this planning process. The simplest way is to decide what you want to achieve (your goals), write down the things you can do to get there (your strategy) and then roughly cost up each item. Balance this with the revenue you think you’re likely to generate from each activity in the short and medium term to give you a clear picture of what your marketing spend can deliver for you.

Tip: Sometimes it can be worth spending on a higher priced activity if it will generate a lot of business. For example, trade shows can be pricey, but if the trade buyers  of a particular show are your target market, you may decide there’s one particular exhibition you can’t afford afford to miss.

3. Assess how well your digital profile reflects your business

In an increasingly digital age, it’s imperative that your customers can find you online, and when they do, that they get a good impression. It’s a good idea to know how your business comes across online and whether you’re getting found easily. When did you last Google your company?

Here are three free things you can do to increase your impact online:

  • Google listingsGoogle My Business puts your business on searches, maps, and Google+. Ensure your business is properly listed and check that your address, opening hours, website URL are all correct, so your customers can find you. Your customers can leave reviews, which – if positive – will help you to rank higher in search engines. So, encourage them to sing your praises here and on other review sites relevant to your business.
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – this is a big topic in the online world, helping you to rank higher in search engines. It’s about ensuring you have the right metadata and key words on your website, as well as making sure the content is fresh, authentic and relevant to your readers. Good use of links, images, video and social media will also help you rank higher. Google Analytics is a very useful free tool to help with SEO.
  • Social media – pick two or three sites that fit well with your brand and use them well. This is much more effective than trying to be all things to all people across many different social media platforms. Once you’ve decided on the most relevant sites for you, post frequent, timely, relevant and interesting content that will engage your target market.

Tip: While they are free, SEO and social media are time consuming, so it may be best to invest in the services of a specialist, freeing you up to spend your valuable time running your business.

4. Decide how much to invest

It’s generally a good idea to spend 5-10% of your annual turnover (gross revenue) on marketing and PR. Depending on what you want to achieve, you might want to consider spending more, especially in the early days.

Remember, to be most effective, marketing and PR need long term, continuous activity. Successful marketing campaigns last anywhere from three to twelve months. Planning your budget with this in mind will help your return on investment and help spread the cost for you.

Tip: The smaller your turnover, the higher your marketing percentage is likely to be, especially if you’re just starting out with your business.

5. Monitor and review regularly

Once you’ve reviewed and adapted your marketing budget and activity, put time in your diary to review your progress regularly. By checking at intervals throughout the year, you can tweak anything that’s not working or do more of something that’s working well, making your money work harder for you.

Tip: every three months is a good interval to check your progress – and be sure to do a full review annually.


So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your PR and marketing budget now! If you’d like help putting your marketing budget or strategy together, contact me to arrange a no-obligation chat.


Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at

Author: janerogers

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