how much does a small business spend on marketing

How Much Does a Small Business Spend on Marketing? A Comprehensive Guide

how much does a small business spend on marketing

How Much Does a Small Business Spend on Marketing?

How much does a small business spend on marketing. In the ever-evolving landscape of business, marketing stands as a pivotal element in determining the growth and success of small businesses. The amount a small business allocates to marketing can significantly influence its reach, customer engagement, and ultimately, its bottom line. But the question remains: How much does a small business spend on marketing? This guide delves into the various aspects of marketing budgets, offering insights and benchmarks to help small business owners make informed decisions.

Understanding the Basics of Marketing Budgets

Before diving into numbers, it’s crucial to understand that a marketing budget encompasses all costs related to promoting your business, including advertising, promotions, public relations, and more. This budget is influenced by several factors such as business goals, target market, industry standards, and the competitive landscape.

Factors Influencing Marketing Budgets

  1. Business Stage: Newly established businesses might spend a larger percentage of their revenue on marketing to build awareness and customer base, whereas established businesses may allocate a lower percentage but a larger overall amount due to their higher revenues.
  2. Industry: Some industries, such as retail and consumer goods, tend to spend more on marketing due to high competition and the need for constant consumer engagement.
  3. Target Market: The channels and strategies you choose to reach your target audience can also affect your marketing budget. Digital marketing might require a different budget allocation compared to traditional marketing efforts.
  4. Business Goals: Expansion, product launches, or entering new markets can necessitate a higher marketing budget to achieve the desired impact.

Benchmarks for Small Business Marketing Budgets

The Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests allocating around 7-8% of your gross revenue to marketing if your business makes less than $5 million a year in sales and your net profit margin after all expenses is in the 10-12% range. However, this is a general guideline, and the actual figures can vary widely.

Industry Averages

  • Retail: Retail businesses may spend between 4% and 10% of their revenue on marketing due to the need for constant consumer engagement and competition.
  • B2B Services: Businesses in the B2B sector often allocate 6% to 9% of their revenue to marketing, focusing on digital marketing, trade shows, and direct sales efforts.
  • Tech Startups: Tech companies, especially startups, might spend upwards of 20% of their revenue on marketing in the early stages to quickly gain market share and user base.

Digital Marketing: A Closer Look

In today’s digital age, many small businesses focus a significant portion of their marketing budget on digital channels. Digital marketing can be more cost-effective and measurable compared to traditional marketing methods. Here’s how a small business might allocate its digital marketing budget:

  1. Website Development and Maintenance: 10-20% of the digital marketing budget.
  2. Content Marketing: 20-30%, including blog posts, videos, and social media content.
  3. Social Media Advertising: 15-25%, focusing on platforms where their target audience is most active.
  4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM): 15-30%, to improve online visibility and attract organic traffic.
  5. Email Marketing: 10-15%, for direct engagement with customers and personalized marketing.

Adjusting Your Marketing Budget

It’s important to regularly review and adjust your marketing budget based on performance metrics, market trends, and business objectives. A flexible approach allows you to allocate funds more effectively, taking advantage of new opportunities or reducing spend in areas that are not delivering the expected return on investment.


While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how much a small business should spend on marketing, understanding the factors that influence marketing budgets and knowing the industry benchmarks can provide a solid foundation for decision-making. By strategically allocating your marketing budget, focusing on measurable outcomes, and remaining adaptable, you can maximize the impact of your marketing efforts and drive sustainable business growth.

In the dynamic world of small business, investing in marketing is not just about spending money but making calculated decisions that propel your business forward. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand, a well-planned marketing budget is a key ingredient to your business’s success story.