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Small Business Budgets for Internet Marketing

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 2/18/11 1:15 PM

Not many people like to talk about money, it was 'impolite' to ask someone about their finances. For some, they don't want to let anyone know how much they really have. For others (and most of us) it is because we have a small amount and we are either embarrassed or very protective of what we do have.

So when I ask small business owners about a budget for their internet marketing efforts, I am not really surprised by that the answer is no budget, we don't really have a lot of money, etc.

Some even get offended when I refuse to give a proposal without a budget. Many just don't have any idea what internet marketing should cost.

For me, a proposal is a recommendation. And without a budget, I might recommend something totally out of the ballpark. With a budget, I can customize my recommendations for tools or services accordingly. I don't care if your budget is $1000 or $100,000- nearly every budget has a solution.

My answer to those wondering about an internet marketing budget for small business (for any business!) is broken into 2 parts that are in direct proposition to each other. The more you have of one, the less you need of the other and visa-versa.

So I will give you a framework, or starting point with some actual budget numbers. And not just in dollars...

Internet Marketing requires a time investment.

And your time is worth something. If you have staff, monetize their time as well. No matter how much you automate and use online tools, there is still going to be the need for a real human being at the helm within your business.

Outsourcing every aspect of your internet marketing to save time is like going to eHarmony, finding the perfect match, and hiring someone else to date them for you until they are ready for marriage. At some point, you have to be involved as the business.

Using a marketing system that is like the eHarmony of online dating does give you better customer matches to grow your business.

Internet Marketing is not Free!

Yes, tools can cost money. However, just because it does not cost dollars does not mean it doesn't cost you something (time!).

That being said, you can use some really great tools with a small budget that will save you tons of time and give you some great information about your market, your business, and your customers. Oh, and generate leads and close sales (I mean if that kind of thing is important to you...)

I won't get into the TON of tools that are out there. Just remember that like any technology, focus on how you will use it and how it will make your day easier. As a small business, you don't likely need the biggest, brightest and newest thing out there. You will want to estimate how much time you will save using it, what that is worth, and what type of return you need for your investment.

What the Numbers Have to Say

I promised you a budget, real hard numbers at the beginning of this post, so here is an example: (notice that I am using paid tools for this example).

$$$$ & Time Investment:

  • Inbound Internet Marketing Strategy (think): Yes, you can do this yourself with some guidance.
       Cost: (for one time help) $1000-3,500.

       Your time required: 15- 5 hours

  • Internet Marketing Implementation (do): With the right tools, training, and strategy, web design, development, social media, blogging, email marketing, etc. is not such a mystery.

       Cost (annual): $3000-10,000

       Time: min 5-10 hours per week

  • Internet Marketing Analytics (review): You have invested time and money into your internet marketing, you also want to plan to spend some time reviewing your analytics for ROI, optimization opportunities, and business insight.

       Cost: already paid for!

       Time: 1 hour a week, an additional 1-2 hours per month

Need some help lining your goals and budget to your expectations for internet marketing? Let us help you navigate the ocean of tools with the right strategy designed for your business growth.

Or check out my radio interview where I talk about small business internet marketing.

Don't let money scare you- Market on!


Topics: marketing strategy, marketing