What Should My Marketing Budget Be?

marketing budgetGuest post by Andy and Shawn Catsimanes


What do you think when you’re asked about your marketing budget?

Unease? Like a deer in the headlights? Or do you have a good idea of what that number is?

Since the (often unspoken) question, “What should my marketing budget be?” has come up multiple times in the last few months, I thought it might be a good time to explore what a marketing program should cost you.

By enlisting some expert advice, we can give you a good idea of what you should pay for these kinds of services.

Money Can Be a Delicate Subject for Business Owners

But the truth is, unless we’re unabashed altruists, we’re all in business to make money.

Still, it’s the one word that strikes fear, worry, doubt, distrust (and I could name a few more) in our hearts whenever it’s brought up for discussion.

Like so many uncomfortable topics, leaving it unexamined also leaves a number of questions in the mind of both the prospective client and the service provider. The prospect is unsure if he/she has budgeted enough for the project and the supplier is unclear of the parameters he has to work with and what he/she will be able to provide without those guidelines.

While every marketer, every client, every situation will be slightly different, there are a few general rules of thumb. Let’s start with some of the basics:

Your Website

Years ago, in another life, when Andy was a restaurant manager, he thought anyone could just whip out a website and customers would line up at the door. Some people still believe the fantasy today.

Yes, you see TV advertisements for free websites perpetuating the same misconception, all the time.

The truth is more complicated. While you can have one of those companies build you a website and then host it on their server for a fee, your site will look pretty much the same as everyone else’s that takes them up on their offer. And it’s a good bet you don’t actually own the website.


How Much Should a Website Cost in 2015?

In addition to a well-placed a quote calculator at the top of the page, when you scroll down, you’ll find some very comprehensive information.

Nothing is left to chance.

If you’re questioning why the cost varies so much from package to package, take this into consideration:

“Responsive design is now a necessity for web design. Responsive design means that a website functions on desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. With 232 possible screen sizes in 2015, it isn’t difficult to understand why responsive design has driven the high end of website cost upwards. The necessity of having a website with responsive design is one reason for the widening gap between the highest and lowest possible costs for a website.”

There’s also some good info showing how the range in the amount you can expect to pay has widened over the past few years, from between $7500 and $12,000 in 1996 to between $2500 and $10000 today.

nutsandboltsAndrea Whitmer – The Truth: How Much Should You Pay for a Website?

This article is a couple of years old, but as we learned from the previous post, not much has changed cost wise during that time.

What I really like is the honesty Andrea employs here.

Take, for instance, her third point in the main body of her post: “How demanding you are as a client? Oops, I mentioned one of those things no one is supposed to talk about! But in the interest of being honest, I’ll just tell you: If you email or call me 50 times a day, expect a billion tiny revisions, cut into my time with my family, and/or request things outside the scope of our working relationship, it’s going to cost you.”

Something to consider, for sure.



Another site that uses a calculator as an engagement element with an ingenious price tag to go with it.

You might be tempted to think that $1100-$2200 is all you should expect to pay for a website design, unless you dig deeper into the article.

The author answers this way when a question arises about obtaining a website for under $1000: “Yes, but you probably won’t like what you’re getting. Around the lowest price you’ll find for an entire custom website will be $400-$500, which will almost certainly come from overseas … These websites are notoriously of very, very low quality and likely will do little to help your business succeed.”


Now let’s look at what it takes to fund your marketing campaign, from the basics on down through the various elements that comprise a complete marketing package.

isuHow Much Should I Spend on Marketing?

This article may be directed toward the agriculture industry, but the fundamentals hold true for any business, especially start-ups.

Like the author points out: “Your marketing efforts – for the most part – pay for themselves.

Sure, there are some things you simply must do to establish your company’s image, your brand, etc., especially at start-up. The point of marketing is to increase business. In other words, it must be effective.”

joey'sJoellyn ‘Joey’ Sargent – How Much Does Marketing Cost?


Here’s what I believe to be the crux of Joey’s blog post: “What do you hope to achieve with the plan?

Do you need help identifying the right customers, streamlining your product plans and developing competitive strategies?

If so, you need someone who specializes in marketing strategy. Look for a consultant who has executive-level marketing experience that relates to your market or industry.”

When you drill down to what you hope to gain from a marketer, it can help both of you determine exactly what it will cost.

Knowing what you expect from them and what they can expect from you will go a long way in coming up with a solution that will satisfy you both. They won’t overcharge and you won’t overpay.

sales lionJessica Davis – How Much Does a Content Marketing Consultant or Agency Cost?

Defining expectations, in great detail, at the outset, is the prime ingredient for all marketing agreements.

You need to know what you’re getting for your money and what is involved in each step of the process. While you may think what you need is a $500 website, a logo, and a few blog posts a month, it might not be nearly enough to distinguish you from your closest competitor.

It comes down to this: “When all is said and done, as an organization that is considering bringing in outside help to market your business to greater heights you need to be able to answer (to the best of your ability) these two incredibly important questions:

  1. Because we are not currently maximizing the internet and digital realm with content marketing, how much is this potentially costing our business?
  2. If we embraced content marketing and truly did it well, what are the realistic results in terms of branding and bottom-line we might expect?”

imaJessica Bowers – How Much Should You Pay for Content?

If you decide to go á la carte and hire out your social media or blog content, it’s good to know what the going rate is.

While there will be a number of variances, there are some general rules to follow. Jessica asks this question to get things started: “Is Your Business Really Benefiting?

To walk you through the math here, the way that businesses can start to examine whether or not they’re investing enough in content is to look at the amount of traffic that their blogs drive, look at the number of leads they’re generating, look at the conversion rate of leads into customers, and examine what the average lifetime value of their customers are.”

content factoryHow Much Does Social Media Cost?

In today’s market, it doesn’t make sense to not have a social media presence. And if you’re clueless as to how to make social media work for you, it might be beneficial to pay someone to help.

That being said, the cost of hiring a consultant can be through the roof. As you read through this article, expect to come away with sticker shock and that deer-in-the-headlights look on your face.

In a nutshell, outsourcing social media is expensive. “Why Does Social Media Marketing Cost So Much? Don’t ask us, because we don’t know,” say the authors of this blog post. And if they don’t know, who does?


Good marketing requires investment, pure and simple.

If you go it alone, you will be spending inordinate amounts of time crafting strategies and implementing plans that may or may not grow your business. If you hire someone or several someones to help you, it will cost you in dollars.

You risk failure either way, especially if you don’t choose your marketing partner well, or they don’t have your best interests at heart. But professional marketers, by and large, know what they’re doing, and they know what practices are necessary to make your business stand out in the crowd.

Knowing what you should spend on marketing and what will (pardon my expression) give you the most bang for your buck, will go a long way in helping you decide which services will work best for you and your brand.


Andy & ShawnAndy and Shawn Catsimanes are dedicated to helping SMBs, churches, and non-profits identify and implement workable marketing systems for predictable growth.

Andy’s a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, direct response copywriter, and experienced WordPress professional. Shawn’s a crack client service specialist. In their spare time, Andy and Shawn volunteer as allies for Circles® USA. For more articles like this, subscribe to the DayByDay Marketing Blog, or connect via LinkedIn or Twitter.