How Should Startups Set a Marketing Budget?

Creating a viable marketing budget for your budding small business used to require a lot of guest work, but now there are many tools you can use to create a successful financial plan. Although it seems like hard work at first, taking the steps in this article can save you a lot of issues in the future because investing in yourself, and your client base is worth it.

How to Figure Out Your Marketing Expenses

One of the best ways to figure out your marketing expenses is by outlining your sales funnel, which will consist of how your clients find you, how they know what to buy, and contributing factors that lead to their buying decisions.

For example, social media marketing is highly effective for clients to find you but requires a balancing act for social media advertising cost as they can vary greatly. Your budget may fluctuate on a month-to-month basis, so you may need to adjust accordingly. 


Any money that leaves your wallet on a monthly or yearly basis is a subscription, and business owners tend to rack up a lot of these without noticing. You’ll want to invest in marketing automation so that every page view, lead, and prospect interaction is recorded. Having automated software can cut back on a lot of time spent refreshing social media pages.

While you can save money doing the research yourself, you’ll spend less time working on your brand, which is considered a net negative. Just purchase one or more of the following software to make your life easier and more cost-effective.

  • Website and domain hosting
  • Dropbox subscription
  • Video hosting tools
  • Social media management tools
  • Automation tools
  • Design templates for blog posts
  • Email marketing platforms

One-off campaign costs don’t apply under subscriptions, so you’ll need to also consider those costs.

Marketing Campaigns

Ongoing payments are easy to account for, but one-off marketing campaigns will require a lot more upfront cost and physical work. If you’re preparing to launch a course, you may need to set a weekly or monthly budget to strike while the iron is hot. 

You’ll need to crack down on advertisement and social media marketing during this period, but don’t forget about business cards and leaflets. Money itself isn’t the issue for your marketing campaigns because if you’re launching something new, you can likely afford it. What’s important is not to go over budget and potentially waste more money than necessary.

Before using your marketing dollars, determine how much you’re willing to spend and only adjust if you see success in that area or you need an extra push.

Staff Salaries

You won’t be able to market effectively without marketers. Unless you know how to do the work yourself, it’s almost always cheaper and more effective to hire an expert that can take over your campaigns. It’s usually due to CEO enthusiasm that business owners want to do everything themselves, but if you have the capital, it’s better to include more members on your team.

There’s no rule for how big your team should be, and it’s determined by the nature of your industry and how large your company is. 

Although salaries are considered an expense, especially in your marketing budget, think of them as payment back into your business. You also don’t need to pay your employees a salary at first as you can lower costs by paying freelancers who work based on the job. 

If you’re going to outsource marketing, it’s important that you have a process in place for making payments like PayPal. Some payment options will require you to pay a fee, so you must research your platform of choice before hiring a freelancer.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.