I often receive inquiries from small business owners who are seeking help with their public relations, branding and digital strategy. Although many of them are different in what they do, they all have one thing in common: they never have a clue on what to spend on these necessary business growth services. And they ask me "How much should I spend on marketing?"
Here is how the initial phone conversation usually goes:
Entrepreneur: "I am opening my new business and I want to hire a PR person to get the word out."
Shakira M. Brown: "Great so tell me about your business"
Entrepreneur shares details letting me know that they are ready to tell the world they are open for business.
Shakira M. Brown: "Fantastic, I am glad you thought leverage public relations and social media for your new business. So tell me, do you have a marketing budget?"
Entrepreneur offers a few moments of silence (is that for demise of their event launch?) and responds. "Well uh, what do you mean?"
I am thinking, they are kidding but indeed they are not.
Shakira M. Brown: "Here's the thing the services you say want are not free.
Entrepreneur: Pauses "Uh well yeah, yes of course." (FYI they didn't know)
You must have a budget set aside for this type of expenditure. So how much do you realistically have for a marketing budget to allocate toward the services you need."
Entrepreneur hesitates and says "Well I was hoping you would tell me, I have no clue and I have never done this before so..."
Shakira M. Brown: "So I am going to stop you right there. Let me get this straight, you want me, the person you may hire to tell you how much I want you to spend with my company."
Entrepreneur offers more awkward moments of silence (hey this is getting weird) and then blurts out. "Well yes, how much do people spend on stuff like this. You are the expert so that is why I am calling. "
I will stop the mock conversation here because this is where EVERY small business owner that I speak with about my services EPICLY FAILS. Purchasing creative service providers is no different than buying a new car. The average person does not walk into a car dealership and ask the salesperson to tell them how much they should spend on a car. This is the same when hiring a branding and marketing firm.
HERE IT IS THE ANSWER YOU ALL HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR
THE AMOUNT OF BUDGET SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS SHOULD HAVE TO SPEND ON MARKETING SERVICES IS ...
DRUM ROLL PLEASE
....THE MARKETING BUDGET YOU MUST HAVE IS THE ONE ONLY YOU CAN AFFORD!
I am sorry to disappoint but there is no MAGIC marketing budget number that will make your business blossom into greatness. At the end of the day, marketing services can be offered for a range of prices, but it all boils down to how much money you can REALISTICALLY CARVE OUT OF YOUR OVERALL BUSINESS BUDGET to allocate to branding and marketing.
STOP WORKING FROM A PLACE OF FANTASY
Reality is a much better approach for your business. And the reality maybe you don't have any money left at all to spend on marketing because you spent it all on other start-up costs. If that is the case --my advice is BORROW money for a marketing budget because if you can't market at all it will be hard (or impossible) to keep a business open that no one knows exists.
YOU DON'T SAVE MONEY BY KEEPING YOUR TRUE BUDGET A SECRET
This is one of the biggest misconceptions! I find that small business owners keep their budgets so close to the vest that it is bursting at the seams. They believe that if they keep their TRUE BUDGET a secret they can save money some how. That is definitely not the case. Asking a service provider to share what YOU should spend puts them in the position to load up a high priced proposal for your review. Once you see how pricey it is -- you reveal your budget to them. You know what the service provider does? They take their proposal and slash services that you can't afford and what you get back is a stripped out proposal not worth their time or yours.
But when you share your budget with several service providers - something magical happens. YOU are suddenly in a position of POWER and STRENGTH because now these competing providers are going to SQUEEZE in as much as possible into their proposals so that they might end up giving you the most service for YOUR BUDGET to edge out the competition and WIN YOUR BUSINESS.
Let me ask you -- doesn't that sound a whole heck of lot better than waiting to see a fantasy proposal only to have it SLASHED like a retail liquidation sale?
In fact, I shared this same theory with a prospect recently who had come back to me a few years after her initial contact with me. I sent her off to speak with her business partner to settle on a realistic budget. A week later she shared she had hired another consultant (apparently she totally missed the value of being in a position of strength). My response? I asked her why once she received the budget from the other consultant that she didn't give me that same budget number to see what I would do for that same price. After all that was what I was waiting on from her and I didn't need to know where the number came from! I added that by failing to present me with the budget she was willing to accept that she likely left some services on the table that might have been included by me that wasn't offered by the other consultant.
So who do you think missed out on that one? It certainly was not me.
BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF AND THE SERVICE PROVIDERS YOU WISH TO ENGAGE
Honesty this will save you time and money! I am happy to speak with small business owners who have figured out a monthly or project budget of any kind. You will always receive the services that will be best within your budget. For instance, if you only have $3,500, then say that up front since most professional service providers will let you know right away if they can offer you services within your price range. Plus, no one has time to waste on fantasy client work.
DON'T WORRY YOU WILL FIND SOMEONE WHO CAN WORK WITH YOUR BUDGET
Because we primarily serve small businesses, SMB Strategic Media works with most budgets. Everyone wins when there is a budget we can all live with. We work with businesses owner across the nation.
Ready to market your business? Have a budget in mind? Use the below calendar to schedule a call to discuss you needs!