Marketing on a Budget: Low-Cost Methods for Small Biz Owners

Guest PostThis is a guest post by Kevin Ball, an off page SEO executive for a search marketing company in Leeds, England. Kevin was inspired to write this post whilst working on one of his current clients in small business accounting.

Let’s get the money clichés out the way: Time is money, money makes the world go round, money is root of all evil, another day another dollar, money doesn’t grow on trees, I’m not made of money, money can’t buy you happiness and show me the money!

Marketing on a BudgetWhat can we garner from all these pithy sound-bites? Two things: money is quite important and often a pain in our collective butt. But when we are starting out as small businesses or solo entrepreneur, how should we finance our marketing?

That’s the $64,000 question. (Oops, last cliché, I promise!)

Budgeting for Business

Did you read that heading and roll your eyes? Be honest.

Well, I don’t blame you. Most people try to budget sensibly but usually end up overspending in areas they enjoy and making cuts in areas they find dull.

If you’re a creative type like me, this can be a business disaster. The dull stuff, tax returns and so on, tend to be pretty vital to financial survival and a strict budget should be set aside for this sort of thing.

But what should be budgeted for marketing and how much should be spent?

Setting a Budget For Marketing

The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends that 2-10% of a company’s sales should be invested in marketing. Of course, the difference between 2% and 10% can be significant depending on how much your business makes.

The majority of small businesses don’t invest enough in marketing.  I suggest investing as much as you can into inexpensive but effective marketing such as SEO (search engine optimization), partnerships and sponsorships.

I can vouch for the effectiveness of SEO from my own experiences working in the industry. For a reasonable budget, a good SEO agency can get your business ranking high on Google without resorting to spammy techniques.


I won’t bore you with technical details, but look for SEO companies offering “ethical SEO.” This is the best for your company’s online reputation in the long term. If an SEO company uses any of the following terms “directories”, “blog lists” or “link farms” in their pitch, run for the hills. With the latest Google updates, Panda and Penguin, SEO is about the quality of links – not the quantity.

Sponsorships & Partnerships

Picking the correct sponsorship can be an excellent method of getting your brand name out there for not much money. For example: Another client I am currently working with sponsored the boots of a football player for their local team. At £180 (around $285) this was an excellent piece of marketing as it got the business mentioned in the local press, the teams website and fan forums for a relatively tiny amount of money.

Get the right kind of marketing in place and your business needn’t break the bank.

How do you budget for marketing? Share your secrets in the comments section!

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