Season 3, Episode 1
Budgeting effectively: making your marketing budget work for you

May 2, 2023

Marketing Matters is back! Welcome to the first episode of season 3, where Lina and Sarah discuss one of the most critical aspects of any successful business: managing your budget. With so many things demanding your money as a business owner, how do you find space in the budget for effective marketing?

Marketing Matters is back! Welcome to the first episode of season 3, where Lina and Sarah discuss one of the most critical aspects of any successful business: managing your budget. With so many things demanding your money as a business owner, how do you find space in the budget for effective marketing?

In today’s episode, we’ll explore practical strategies and best practices for managing your marketing budget. Whether you’re just starting or a seasoned marketer, you’ll discover valuable insights and actionable tips to help you optimize your marketing spend and drive business growth. So, let’s dive in!


  • How much should my budget be?
  • How do I spend money to make money?
  • How can I allocate my marketing dollars effectively to maximize my return on investment?
  • How do I know when it is—and when it isn’t—necessary to spend money on marketing?

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See you on the first Monday of next month!

Marketing Matters is brought to you by ADV Marketing – Everyone has a story worth telling. Let’s tell yours.

Lina Rice: Hi there. We’re ADV Marketing, a marketing agency that develops high quality and cost-effective marketing materials. Our relationship-driven business model and customized marketing solutions makes us the perfect partner for small businesses looking to grow. I’m your host, Lina Rice. Join Sarah and me here on Marketing Matters every other Monday to discuss business-to-business marketing topics. Now let’s get into the episode.
Lina: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of Marketing Matters. We took a little brief break. You know, we rested.
Sarah Roberts: We did rest.
Lina: It’s been a while since you got on the podcast, and I feel refreshed.
Sarah: Yeah. And every time we found there’s something new, there’s a new wall behind us.
Lina: We have. Yeah, that’s cool.
Sarah: Yeah, I said it’s changing and improving.
Sarah: We’ve gotten three plants. Three plants plus one. We have all the props.
Lina: Yeah, we really do. We’re high budget over here, obviously. Yeah. None of this came from Target.
Sarah: Budgeting is a good Segway!
Lina: It is a good Segway. So today we’re going to talk about making your marketing budget work for you. We are well aware of the current economy.
Sarah: Yes.
Lina: However, marketing budgets are always on the chopping block. We are aware of it in our industry, whether the economy is doing great or poorly. Marketing is always the first one to go. So, what we want to talk about today isn’t so much whether or not you should throw marketing out the window, because we’re always going to say, don’t do that, but rather rethink how you’re spending your money. And really, I’m going to be comparing it very closely to your grocery budget because I am a woman. I do the grocery shopping in my household. I don’t know if you do the grocery shopping.
Sarah: I love grocery shopping. I find it fun.
Lina: I do too. I will turn on a podcast or some music or something and just like stroll down the aisles and, like, live my life.
Sarah: Yeah, I’m very happy. I like cooking. So, I’m closely tied to my grocery decision making.
Lina: Yeah, so you can’t just go to the grocery store, at least not right now. In the current economy, where strawberries can get up to $10 for a pound.
Sarah: Or eggs. Even eggs are a problem.
Lina: Yeah, I don’t really recommend just going to the grocery store without knowing what you’re getting yourself into. Same goes for marketing. So, let’s talk about it. The first thing and most important thing about the grocery store and your marketing is you need a budget. You need to know what can be spent and what can’t be spent because your company has an overall budget. But you need to ensure that you have a marketing budget because if you know that your budget is $5,000 a month, that is very different than if your budget is $10,000 a month. Then there are different things that you can do to maximize that spend. And there are different areas where I would recommend that you splurge versus save, and we’re going to get into that too. So, the next important thing after you’ve established your marketing budget, which I think we actually have an episode about how to establish your marketing budget, I think that was at the end of last year.
Sarah: Yeah.
Lina: I think it was going into this year, it was kind of like how to set your marketing budget.
Sarah: Yes.
Lina: But once you know that, make sure that all of your stakeholders know that budget, because if one department wants to go out and throw an event for some clients or whatever the case may be, they need to know how much money there is to spend, because ideally that event should not take up your entire year’s marketing budget. That’s just not a great way to spend money. So, from there. High level, Sarah. How big should your marketing budget be, on average? What would you say?
Sarah: 3 to 6% of revenue. I believe nonprofit is three. 6% of revenue is the average amount you spend on marketing. But, it greatly depends on your industry and also what the structure of your business model, so like business-to-consumer or business-to-business.
Lina: Yeah, business to consumer can actually get up upwards of 30%.
Sarah: Yeah.
Lina: Most B2B is not anywhere near that ever. If you are Exxon Mobile versus, you know, a mom-and-pop shop.
Sarah: Yeah, two different things. So, you have to consider how your revenue is being generated. So, for example, there’s lots of B2B software companies out there that make sales directly online. In that case, online marketing and digital marketing is a huge revenue generator, hence a really good investment for them.
Lina: Yeah.
Sarah: So, you have to balance that too. Yep. But if you’re sales team, so a lot of your sales are made on the ground with boots actually walking on tangible pavement, then that will look different. You’re not going to not spend money on marketing. Marketing spend is going to look different.
Lina: Here’s a question for you, Sarah.
Sarah: Yes.
Lina: When we talk about a marketing budget, are you counting sales reps’ salaries?
Sarah: No. Marketing budgets do not include sales budgets. They’re different. It’s marketing we’ve already talked about.
Lina: We have because we have sales from a budgetary perspective. Where does it fall?
Sarah: They’re still separate. They’re completing very different functions and marketing if you want to, and if you’re in the stage of your business that you want to categorize marketing as a sub account out of sales, that’s fine.
Lina: But then that needs to be 3 to 6%.
Sarah: Yes. So, like you have to think about it as separate from sales, but it is supporting sales of course.
Lina: Of course, I completely agree. So, okay, so there’s a saying you need to spend money to make money. Yes that’s true. Yes, totally. You have to. However, you don’t have to spend millions of dollars to make millions of dollars. Like that’s just not the case.
Sarah: Yeah.
Lina: So, we’re going to kind of get into what you should spend your money on. My big thing is make sure that it’s something that’s a high ROI. And I kind of had two thoughts that came to my mind. So I’ll do my two and then you can give like what your instant reactions are. My first one is Business Cards. Everyone needs a business card. So, spend money on some high-quality business cards. Please don’t have your sister design it to then go get it printed at Office Depot. Like, don’t do that. Get something nice. There are cheap ways to do it, but still nice. So, invest in some good quality business cards. Business cards on whole as a whole are pretty cheap in general compared to other marketing.
Sarah: And you use them. And if you don’t use them, you’ll know it. Like you won’t go through a box that you bought.
Lina: But then at least you have your box.
Sarah: Yeah. And then you go to the experts.
Lina: Yes. And then when you go to that conference…
Sarah: Kara!
Lina: We have a guest!
Sarah: Come say hi!
Kara: (off screen) Hi!
Lina: I don’t think they can hear you from there.
Kara: Hi, I didn’t know you were filming in here.
Lina: Okay. So here, tell us. If companies were only buying a few things for their marketing. Like, what are the high return on investment things that you would recommend to them to do for marketing if they can only spend money on a couple of things.
Kara: A website and content.
Lina: Yeah, I agree.
Kara: Because the website is where everyone’s going to go to like check out your services, decide if you’re a reliable company, learn about you. And that’s where they’re going to do their research before they contact you. And then investing in content is fantastic because you have keywords and you have everything that a client is going to need to learn about you.
Lina: Yeah, the website was my next one. What’s yours Sarah?
Sarah: You kind of already took them.
Lina: That’s okay.
Sarah: Yeah. And also to add on to the content piece, so I am contributing to your question. It’s that content establishes a presence too, because people can’t find you unless you are there. And so content gives you the platform that you need to be there.
Kara: Oh I still have sunglasses on my head.
Lina: That’s okay. That’s okay. Okay, So now we’re gonna kind of go into…do you want to just hang out with us on the episode?
Kara: Yeah
Lina: Okay, go for it. Okay. So going to go into what, where should you spend money and save money? Now, obviously, all these answers are going to depend, so feel free to elaborate on where you would spend the money versus not. So the first one is doing just some iPhone photos and videos for LinkedIn content versus paying for some high-quality designs, downloads, videos, etc. Where would you spend the money versus save the money?
Sarah: I have an answer.
Lina: Sure.
Sarah: Okay. So it can be the wrong answer, but I think that if you’re at the position where all you have is iPhone photos and videos to absolutely post them like absolutely something’s better than nothing.That only adds to your authenticity. It’s super genuine to have iPhone photos. It’s also pretty normalized nowadays in social media to have organic stuff like that, like things you just take on your iPhone or video, but you also want to balance it with the brand building. So personally, I think if it’s all you have, go for it, and then later down the road, invest in the highly curated LinkedIn content. What do you think?
Lina: I agree. I think that where you start spending money on LinkedIn content is when that budget opens up. I would say first you need to spend the money on your website. You need to have a solid website. If you don’t have the money for that, then don’t bother paying for high quality LinkedIn content. Once you have an established website and you have the budget, that would be the next thing that I would buy is high quality content. What would you say Kara?
Kara: Oh, I definitely agree. I don’t think your pictures and video is the most important thing. The content that you have in your website is the most important.
Lina: Yeah. I completely agree. Okay so the next one is just your word doc versus a designed print material.
Sarah: Okay, I have an answer for this: I think it’s really worth it to invest in a really high-quality printed piece of collateral.
Lina: I completely agree.
Sarah: It’s just really important to have something that makes you look good when you walk into a meeting or a lunch and then be like “this is who I am” and give it to them because that’s what they’re going to remember. If you go in there and hand them a word doc, in freaking Calibri font , that’s not who you are. You’re not generic, like invest in something.
Kara: Or a brochure design in PowerPoint.
Sarah: Yeah, Don’t do that.
Lina: This is where I would spend the money. I would not give anyone a word document. Please just spend a couple hundred dollars, get something better-quality made depending on what you need. If it’s just a flier that’s going to run you a couple hundred dollars, ike it’s not a huge investment, so I would totally spend the money here.
Kara: I agree.
Lina: So a social media scheduler versus LinkedIn’s brand-new scheduling feature, which you may or may have.
Sarah: Yeah you may or may not have it because only some people had it, and now a few more people have it. But if you can schedule on a company page in LinkedIn, you’re a lucky person.
Lina: You are, yeah. We can’t figure out who gets it versus who does it, because I had it and then it went away and Sarah had it and now I have it again.
Sarah: I still have it, thank goodness.
Kara: Do I have it?
Lina: I don’t know.
Kara: I need to look and see.
Lina: Do you think it’s worth spending money on a platform like Hootsuite or Sprout Social when you could theoretically just put your content on LinkedIn scheduler?
Kara: I don’t think it’s worth it for a business-to-business business. Now, if you’re a B2C business where you’re like posting 15 Instagrams a day, totally worth it for it. But if you’re posting twice a week, no, it is not worth the money.
Lina: I agree. Just save your money. Use LinkedIn scheduler. It’s no big deal.
Kara: Although if you’re only posting twice a week, I think you can just use a free one. Yeah, I think Hootsuite has like, a free one that you can use. It just depends on how many channels are linked to it and how many posts you’re doing.
Lina: But if you’re B2B, really, all you’re using is LinkedIn. Maybe Instagram or Facebook, but that’s only if you have a very specific audience.
Kara: I personally like using any native scheduler over a third party because there’s glitches where they disconnect and the other day…
Lina: It doesn’t tell you.
Kara: Yeah, the other day something said it posted and it didn’t actually post.
Lina: Yeah, that was upsetting.
Sarah: Yeah, it was upsetting.
Lina: Okay. So you’re going to have a soapbox.
Sarah: I am.
Lina: Try to reel it in.
Sarah: No, I was like looking at the notes and I was like “Dang, I have a lot to say on this topic.”
Lina: Okay, go ahead. Paid campaigns versus organic content. Now we talk a lot about organic content on this channel. Let’s first clarify what organic content is.
Sarah: Yeah, it’s free. It’s free to post.
Lina: Basically, anything you post for free. So if you’re posting your iPhone photos, that is organic content. Anything that you’re not paying to do. Paid Media is an ad. So a LinkedIn ad, so to speak.
Sarah: My answer is not going to shock you. Absolutely organic content and then just keep investing in better organic content because you get so much better results. There is like this thing in the consumer brain that like switches off when they see the little sponsored thing on a post, they like immediately say “Next.” Like they just don’t, like, any platform, as a consumer, TikTok sponsored: scroll past, Instagram sponsored: scroll past, unless it has clothes, then it’s cool. So, either way, organic content is better to me. It’s like true to you.
Lina: It’s true to your brand more so it’s more authentic so people trust it
Sarah: Yes, it should be valuable. Like your content should be things people seek out, like that is your whole point of them. And then if you really want to go crazy and have a paid campaign sponsor your best, most valuable organic content. So it gets in front of more people.
Lina: Yeah. Yes, I agree.
Sarah: So that was my soapbox.
Lina: What do you think Kara?
Kara: Paid campaigns really, for our clients, all we’ve seen that is worth it is linked in paid campaign campaigns. And that’s only been for certain clients. We haven’t seen a lot of success with like pay per click or anything like that.
Lina: We have one client coming up for that is actually something that could help them. But it is a very specific scenario.
Sarah: And very well-defined audience.
Lina: Yes. Which is usually hard in B2B because usually it can be pretty vague.
Sarah: Yeah. And if you do know it, it’d be like very specific
Lina: Or too specific. That’s another problem in B2B. You’re either too broad or too specific and it’s like, well, it’s not worth it. Yeah, I completely agree. Okay. The last one, Google. Well, we kind of talked about it. Google paid banners versus SEO optimization. So Google paid banners are those when you Google something and it says sponsored, that’s what we’re talking about. And then SEO optimization is optimizing your website to get it ranked highly on Google naturally without having to pay for one of those sponsored spots.
Sarah: Yeah, so like Kara said, website is absolutely one of the number one things you should absolutely invest in. So from that same thinking, investing in making it pop up higher on search engine results is totally worth it.
Lina: I agree.
Sarah: So SEO all the way.
Kara: Yes. No one goes to the second third page of Google.
Lina: No, actually, no. Google doesn’t have pages. They have continuous scroll. You just keep scrolling.
Sarah: Yeah, it’s new.
Kara: Wow, good job Google.
Lina: Yeah. Google.
Sarah: But, one thing is that I’ve noticed about that is that I’ll go to a search page and I won’t scroll past very far yet. I’m so used to it.
Lina: Yeah. I’ll change my search if I get past those first 10 to 15 results, then I’m done because I’ve been trained and you recognize like, you know, how much like it used to be 10 to 12 on a page. You know how many that is.
Kara: That’s probably what happened to me. That’s why I didn’t even realize it had.
Lina: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s when you re-Google and try to find something closer.
Kara: Yeah, I got to re-Google this. I need to re-Google how to be an adult.
Lina: That is so great. Well, I hope that this episode was super helpful. I’m so glad that Kara got to pop on and share her wonderful insights. That was a great surprise. And we will see y’all in two weeks.
Sarah: Yes. Bye, guys.
Kara: Bye.

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