You already know that you need an effective digital marketing strategy to dominate the competition. You need to run toward the fire with a knockout strategy to fill your sales funnel with qualified leads and keep the phone ringing. But how much should you spend on marketing?
The short answer? It depends. Because we serve small businesses, our clients often ask us how to create a well-rounded marketing budget. And as marketing experts, we’re frequently asked exactly where to invest those marketing dollars.
Of course, the exact amount your landscaping company will spend on marketing will vary depending on a few factors (think: your location, competition, lead volume, whether you’re working with an agency or in-house team, etc.). But even if you’re building a budget without any data to rely on, there are some benchmarks that can help guide your decisions.
After all, you work hard to grow your business and keep your landscapers busy. You deserve to get the most bang out of your hard-earned dollars. Here’s how to grow your business without draining your budget on dead-end campaigns and unnecessary expenses.
1. Know Your Target Audience
All successful marketing strategies have one thing in common: They speak directly to your audience. Your campaigns need to empathize with your prospects’ pain points, show them how your business can add value to their lives, and speak to them on a personal level.
What does that mean for your budget? Before allocating any marketing dollars, you need to know where your customers are. To reach your target audience, you’ll need to deep dive into your data to create a buyer persona. Take a look at your past customers and ask the following questions:
- How old is your average client?
- What’s their education level and career?
- What does their income level look like?
- What’s your target geographical area?
- What are your clients’ interests?
- What brands do they interact with regularly?
Even if you don’t have customer data to guide your strategy, you can still access a lot of information by researching past customers online. That means reviewing their social media posts, finding out what platforms they use, and checking out what brands they follow.
Once you paint a clear picture of your potential customers, you can figure out how to guide them down the sales funnel—from what messaging will resonate with them to what channels they’re already using.
2. Consider Your Monthly Gross Revenue
According to marketing experts, small businesses should spend around five percent of their gross revenue on marketing. Again, the perfect budget won’t be the same for every business. It won’t even be the same for your business and your main competitor. The best budget will depend on your lead volume, the amount of growth you can handle, and how quickly you need to make an impact.
For example, if you’re building a landscaping business from scratch, you’ll need to start with a strong foundation. That means investing in brand strategy, web development, PPC ads, and other fast-acting strategies to get your brand out there.
During the early brand-building years, small businesses might spend up to 20 percent on marketing to establish themselves in the marketplace. We know: 20 percent sounds high, but an initial investment in marketing can have long-term benefits for your business.
Think about it this way: Determining what percent of your monthly gross revenue to spend on marketing isn’t an easy decision, but you should never base your budget on what’s “left over” after covering other expenses.
3. Spend Your Budget Wisely
Now that you have an idea of what to spend, you need to figure out how to spend it. You can’t just throw your marketing dollars at PPC and hope for the best. You need a plan.
If you’re a marketing newbie, think of your strategy as one piece of your overall business plan. Whether you’re trying to build brand awareness, attract leads, or boost conversions, you need SMART goals. With goals in place, you can start crafting an effective strategy to achieve them.
Sounds simple enough, right? Your marketing strategy should help you work smarter, not harder. It should serve as an action plan, helping you outline your costs and best allocate your budget to achieve goals within a specific timeframe. At the same time, you should be measuring toward specific goals with objective benchmarks and data.
Depending on your goals (and the effort needed to reach them), you’ll also need to decide whether to outsource marketing or keep it in-house. When considering whether to outsource, consider what you have more of—the time and expertise to handle marketing campaigns, or the money to hire someone else.
4. Don’t Always Follow the Leader
When it comes to your marketing budget, focus on different technologies and platforms to keep up with industry trends. For example, if you’re using email to retarget lost leads, take advantage of trending features (think: email tracking and automated scheduling) to make life easier.
With that said, don’t just blindly follow the leader. We’ve seen clients instantly react to the “next big thing” without research, even if it’s not the best option for their business. Instead of crafting your budget around the latest trends, take some time to research how new marketing tactics will impact your own strategy.
Let’s say your competitor runs a new PPC campaign to advertise their lawn care services. That doesn’t mean you should immediately follow with the same campaign.
Before you make any big budgeting decisions, spy on the competition. Analyze the sales trends that took place after their campaign launched. Did they experience an increase in business? Did they drive website traffic? Decide whether their campaign made an impact before mixing up your own strategy.
5. Test, Review, and Revise
Congratulations! You’ve created a marketing budget, but your hard work isn’t over yet. If you want your marketing dollars to keep working for you, you need to test your campaigns and review your results.
Why? Your budget doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be fixed. Chances are, you’ll switch things up once in a while, whether you’re planning a new Facebook campaign or reducing expenses during shoulder season.
To stretch your hard-earned revenue, you need to know whether spending is actually helping you achieve goals. Don’t be afraid to dip your toes into new channels, like Instagram ads, to see what works. Then, you can fine-tune your strategy based on your results.
At the end of the day, making the most of your budget requires constantly monitoring your efforts. If PPC ads are generating your desired ROI, then you can continue investing that amount (or, better yet, boost your spending). If they’re generating lackluster results, it’s time to mix up your strategy or reinvest in other channels.
Skip the Cookie-Cutter Budgeting Formulas
If you’re working with a limited budget, you don’t have to spend thousands to grow your business. Sometimes, finding the best marketing ideas is as simple as brainstorming productive ways to create a buzz about your landscaping business.
Start with your goals, consider your audience, and identify what sets you apart. And remember: There are countless platforms, channels, and marketing strategies that can give your brand a competitive edge without breaking the bank.
No matter what some marketers might tell you, there’s no cookie-cutter formula for building the perfect budget. Your landscaping business is unique—and your budget should be, too.When you’re ready to build a budget, we’re here to help. At Company 119, we take the time to understand the ins and outs of your business, your current challenges, and your long-term goals to craft a tailored strategy that works for you. Contact us today to get started.