The 10% Rule for Marketing Spend

The 10% Rule for Marketing Spend

Some brands go all out with the marketing budgets. And while it’s perfectly understandable for big names with nearly unlimited resources to do this, small businesses have to be more budget-minded.

If you are among the estimated 30 million small business owners in the United States, according to, you’ll be better off following the 10% rule for marketing spend, as seen at this link. Here’s a closer look at what this means how you can still reach your target audience with smart market spending.

What’s the 10% Rule?

The “10% rule” for marketing spend simply means this is the percentage of your gross revenue you’ll devote to marketing-related expenses for the year. Now, to be realistic, there will be times when you’ll need to bend the 10% rule a bit.

But this usually happens with special projects or situations where it makes sense to devote more of your resources to marketing. If you’re just getting started, for example, you’ll likely exceed 10 percent because of initial investments involving things like website design and development.

How Should You Spend Your 10%?

In short, the answer is in a way that makes sense for your brand and your needs. This being said, there are some basic steps you can take to maximize your marketing budget while still staying within your 10 percent range. Let’s break this down into three easy steps:

1. Set Your Marketing Goals

The most efficient way to smartly spend your 10 percent is to know exactly what you hope to achieve marketing-wise for the year. Do this by setting clear goals with predetermined success measures associated with each one.

Common marketing goals include:

• Increasing traffic to your website (tips here)

• Acquiring more productive leads

• Effectively reaching target customers in a certain geographic area

• Stimulating business growth – e.g., generating more revenue, reaching customers in a new market, etc.

2. Know What Resources You Already Have and Where You Need to Improve

You’ll be more likely to stick to the 10% rule if you build on what you already have in place to achieve your marketing goals. If you want to invest in social media or paid ads designed to attract more visitors to your website, for example, you’ll spend less if already have a website that’s user-friendly and designed with conversions in mind.

You’ll also want to know what you need to improve on so you can allocate your marketing funds more efficiently. So, determine what you need to improve on and what existing resources you can use to your advantage by answering the following questions:

• Is your brand fairly established within your preferred markets?

• Do you have tools set up to track your results?

• Do you have a complementary business strategy in place to pair with your marketing strategy?

• Are there any existing barriers keeping customers from finding your business or interacting with it online?

3. Start Spending

Once you know what your goals are and where you need to focus your efforts, start using your allocated marketing resources. Begin by addressing any weaknesses you identified.

Next, create a marketing budget that breaks down what exactly your 10% will be spent on throughout the year. But allow for some flexibility in case you need to make adjustments throughout the year if your goals and priorities change.

How Can You Benefit from the 10% Rule?

First of all, view marketing as an investment rather than just another expense ( Secondly, don’t judge your results based on what’s right for other businesses with different resources.

For instance, a small business website generating 5,000 visitors or less each month is perfectly respectable. This is especially true if you are reaching or exceeding your marketing goals. Sticking to the 10% rule also means:

• Less uncertainty about where to fit marketing into your overall budget

• Benefiting from smart, creative ways to achieve your marketing goals with limited resources

• Fewer instances of spending more than what you can comfortably afford only to not get the desired results

It’s not always easy to determine how to properly allocate resources when striving to keep your marketing spend around the 10 percent level. Fortunately, there are plenty of online tools that can help you track your spending and your results.

If you need some help achieving your goals and keeping your marketing spending in check, consider turning to marketing professionals who know how to help small business clients get more bang for their buck. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

It is important to note that marketing spend varies from industry to industry, so do your research (

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