Nearly 10 years after the economic downturn of 2008, America’s workforce is still undergoing a huge overhaul. Although traditional 9-5 jobs still exist, many workers are leaving them in favor of starting their own businesses. Small businesses are popular across the country, but most business owners are not doing as well as they could.

Recent studies show most business owners don’t know how to market themselves or even know how to budget. An astounding 54% of small businesses don’t have a budget and another 46% don’t allocate any of their budgeted funds to marketing.

Expectations vs. Reality

Many small business owners don’t allocate funds for marketing because they find the idea of marketing overwhelming. They look at the different types of marketing their businesses need – SEO, websites, social media – and think they can’t possibly afford or manage everything. As a result, business owners end up doing the bare minimum with websites, SEO, and other marketing tools.

More than 50% expect to pay $200 a month or less for SEO and other marketing tactics. They fear experiencing burnout and going into debt. But in attempting to protect themselves from increased cost, they set their marketing up to fail, resulting in a lower overall bottom-line. They don’t invest the money necessary to make a marketing campaign visible, so they get what they paid for – or didn’t.

Studies indicate business owners must increase their marketing budgets to help potential clients find them, whether that’s on the internet or through a brick and mortar avenue. However, only 24% planned to do so at the time of the study; another 41% planned to stay at their current investment level, while 31% claimed they didn’t know how to approach their budgets. That’s at least 72% of businesses that may fail in the next year without significant budgeting improvement.

Funneling Money Toward Marketing

The good news is, if you haven’t allocated money for marketing before, now is a great time to begin. Educate yourself on what marketing tools are effective through respective avenues. Do you need SEO or a Kickstarter campaign? Get a sense of what will benefit your business most. Familiarize yourself and your team with some basics, such as why your business exists, who you want to serve, and what has worked for you in the past.

Has a certain product or service sold better than another? Funnel a chunk of marketing money toward particular audiences to see if popularity increases. Are you serving a customer niche? Determine whether you want to stay in that niche or expand it. If you choose the latter, focus on which campaign types will most likely reach the demographics you are most interested in.

Trends in Marketing Spend

Once you start allocating funds to properly market your business, don’t set it and forget it. Keep an eye on results and trends in your industry. Not sure what marketing budget trends are for 2017? Check out this great info graphic from Statista. Social media and content media top the list for continued increases in marketing spend.

Remember: If you’re not getting the results you want from your marketing budget, you may need to adjust how much you spend and where you spend it. If you’re video marketing is skyrocketing, it’s a good idea to allocate additional funds to keep the growth going. Similarly, if your Twitter ads aren’t adding up, reallocate those funds to testing out a different social media platform.

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