Welcome to the world, small business! 🎉🎊🍾 We’re so excited to celebrate the birth of another entrepreneur who will undoubtedly change the world for the better. But in order to build your empire and succeed as a small business owner, you need to begin with a startup marketing budget and business launch strategy.

So, where are you currently in the business development process? Are you percolating on your business name? Did you quit your full time job and make your new business official by registering it with the state? Are you somewhere in the branding and website development stage? Wherever you’re at, every startup needs the same thing: a marketing budget, start-up marketing strategy, and business launch budget. This blog will help you figure all of that out, so you can get down to building your empire.

A Smart Startup Marketing Budget For Your Small Business

You have to spend money to make money—and you MUST spend it wisely. It’s advised most startups spend 5–10% of your projected revenue on marketing in 2023.

That percentage may seem like a lot, but marketing is essential to building brand awareness, getting traffic to your website, and increasing sales.

This is the part where you may say, “cool, I will save money and just do all of my marketing myself.” Don’t get us wrong, we 100% stan for a DIY moment. However, you need to set your precious startup budget thoughtfully, spend it strategically, spend your time wisely, and set your business up to grow at scale. So, grab your #2 pencil and paper, it’s note taking time!

Where to Put Your Startup Marketing Budget In Your Business’s First Year

1. Small Business Consulting and Business Coaching

If you’re not ready to hire a digital marketing agency or employee, but you need some major direction and (wo)man power, the most affordable solution is a business consultant. A business coach or small business consultant like Charm School will help your startup with:

  • Knowledgeable answers to your important digital marketing questions
  • Expert opinions on your digital marketing strategy and small business goals 
  • Custom advice that’s tailored to your specific business

Do not skimp on business development strategy. If you have a tight budget, we get it, so put that into consulting and divvy up the to-dos once you have an iron-clad priority list.

2. Competitive Research

Before you launch your business and hone your marketing strategy, check out the competition. Make a list of your business competitors and check out their sites and social. What do you like, and dislike, about their branding, logo, site, and vibe? What strategies are they using? How often are they posting? Make note of what is expected from a business like yours, and what makes yours unique. A business consultant and an SEO audit can also help with this.

3. Branding for Your New Business

The face of your business starts with branding, including your business name, logo, brand guidelines, tagline, and editorial style guide. Professional branding will ensure:

  • Your business name it catchy, meaningful, memorable, and speaks to your target audience
  • Your logo and aesthetics match your mission and demographic
  • Your color palette and typography complements your brand while remaining legible and ADA-compliant
  • Photography guidelines and messaging stay consistent across all digital marketing channels 

Prepare to spend $5–10K on branding. Here’s more about how much to spend on branding and how much a logo costs.

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization, or organic SEO, is how you found this article. You had a question, typed it into Google, and BAM, your answer appeared in the form of our website. That’s why you 100% need to include SEO in your startup marketing budget.

When should you invest in SEO? Before you launch your new business’s website! You can hire an SEO agency like Charm School to do an SEO audit that will include

  • Proper tags and keywords to bring in organic traffic from search engines
  • Backend implementation of alt-text on imagery and videos to improve your sites accessibility and SEO
  • Guidelines for mobile responsiveness and page load speed optimizations so your site loads quickly and functions well. 
  • Competitive analysis of what keywords other businesses rank for
  • Content strategy ideas for SEO optimized blogs
  • URL structure and site hierarchy—setting up your website content so it will rank and so you can grow into it as you scale your business!

If you have a small startup launch budget, here are some of our favorite tools for SEO and tips for DIY SEO. We also offering consulting and SEO training.

5. Website Design and Website Development

Every business needs a website! At the bare minimum, your business website needs to communicate your mission, offer contact information, and help customers complete a transaction.

Depending on your budget, you can save money with a templated WordPress website. You may even get away with a landing page. Here are some of our favorite WordPress themes to use for your startup’s website. Read more about how much websites cost and how to find the right website designer or hire a website developer for your website launch.

6. Social Media Marketing

Did you know, that your social media profiles will show up before your business’s website? That’s why it’s so important to launch at least one social media marketing channel when you start your business. Less is more here! To make the most of your social media marketing budget, run SMM on one platform well and use all of its features. It’s so much more cost effective to do so than post erratically and poorly on multiple channels.

If you can, hire a social media manager. Otherwise, here’s a resource for social media marketing on a small budget, affordable content creation and image sourcing, and content ideas. You can also download our best-selling social media kits, including DIY Social Media Planner, 365 Days of Post Ideas and Prompts, and our Ultimate Social Media Strategy Guidebook to get started with your small business’s social media marketing.

social media marketing for startups

7. SEO-Optimized Content and a Business Blog

We are SEO evangelists at Charm School. We practice what we preach, and invest mostly in organic SEO content. That’s why you found this blog! Your SEO audit will deliver content ideas for your website’s blog. Blogging is key to getting website traffic and beating your competitors in the top of rankings. Here is a resource to come up with a content calendar and content buckets. Remember, include budget to post at least once per month to your new business’s website. Doing so will help you win the slow and steady SEO race over the next six to 12 months.

8. Video Content and Image Creation

TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, they’re all saying the same thing: everybody wants video! The same goes for high quality imagery.

Content creation for social media may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! People don’t really want to see how well you can lip-sync, or whether or not you can do the latest moves (by all means, get your groove on!), they want to just see YOU.

By putting your business in front of the camera with an authentic intention, you’ll not only push your brand’s message you’ll also win over customers trust. Making videos that show all the ins and out of your business, the good and the bad will show that you’re relatable, and trustworthy, to your target audience. That trust converts your audience into paying customers. And the best part is, you only need your phone to get started! 

Here are some of our favorite video editing apps and photo editing tools. Here’s an intro to Reels for Instagram. Here are our favorite free stock photo sites for better image sourcing, too.

9. SMS and Email Marketing

Email and SMS marketing are a great way to gain clients! But this marketing tactic must be done carefully and with intention or customers will drop like flies: No one likes a cheugy spammer. Here’s how to make your inbox engagements meaningful:

SMS Marketing

  • Text feels much more personal than an email, so use your brand’s language and keep messages simple!
  • Text for personalized promotions, offers, or discounts
  • Send surveys via text
  • Don’t spam! Only text those who have opted in for texts, and limit the number of texts you send out

Email Marketing: 

  • Make sure your emails are set up on branded templates and are using your business language
  • Create several templates to switch up your emails for different things (promotions, announcements, etc)
  • Add a little spice! Make sure your emails are fun, educational, and memorable
  • Don’t spam! Only email customers who have opted in for emails and be sure to send emails out only once a week (or less!). You only want to slide into those inboxes for important announcements otherwise you’ll lose valued customers

If you want to grow your email list, here’s how to add opt-ins on your site: 

  • Add a footer to your site with a sign-up button
  • Create a form with an email list opt-in on its own page
  • Create a pop-up (Bonus: send them a product/service discount for signing up!)

How to add opt-ins on your social: 

  • And link a sign-up
  • Post an ad  

11. Paid Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising is a simple way to gain more visits to your site. This drives inorganic traffic to your site, and does require payment to the search engine, however it can be highly rewarding if you have high price items. 

Social media advertising is another option to drive customers to your site, but it will require testing and strategy. Our advice? Drive your social media ads to an email opt-in FIRST. Email subscribers are a gold-mine as they have already told you that they like you, they trust you, and they want to see more. Just like with videos, trust = sales. 

Do Have a Small Marketing Budget?

Don’t worry! Any budget is better than no budget. You don’t have to spend a ton or do everything right out of the gates. Here’s a guide to determining a marketing budget per channel.

Hire a Small Business Consultant or Startup Marketing Consultant

Now that you know where to spend your startup marketing budget, you need to make one! If you’re feeling dizzy from all this data, we can help. Let us do the hard work for you, and put our expert Marketing Consulting and Training services to the test. Get in touch to set up a free consultation today.