How Much Should Small Business Marketing Cost?

How Much Should Small Business Marketing CostHow much should your small business marketing cost? We have had a couple of clients lately that have made my heart sad. They are paying $350 a month for hosting and $695 for SEO respectively.

Upon further review, I cannot see that they are gaining anything from either of those services and in the SEO case are actually being harmed by what the company is doing (definitely gray hat SEO tricks from days gone by).

So I thought I would take a moment today to talk about how much small business marketing should cost. This is based entirely on my 15 years of experience in marketing and having contacts and preferred vendors in the marketplace. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have other services and prices that you know about!

Database or Email Software

If you have a very small list, MailChimp may be a good suggestion to get you started on growing an email list. They are well regarded if you have a small list and will allow you to create a web form to get people into your list and send emails. They have a very basic interface that is relatively easy to use. Cost – FREE

If you are doing any kind of internet marketing or genuine online lead generation, we recommend Infusionsoft. They have the most comprehensive marketing software that we have ever seen and we use it in our business. Not only does it do email and web forms, but it allows the setup of systems, tasks and CRM (customer relationship management). Cost – $300ish a month plus a setup fee that covers 8 hours of training (we LOVE our trainer Paul and he has been invaluable for getting our systems set up!)

Direct Mail

I have some recent data from a client who did a mailing campaign and who is a good record keeper. She did two types of mailings, a small (100 piece) mailing using VistaPrint postcards and a list generated from gathering data from the internet and a somewhat outdated mailing list. This mailing cost about $2.99 each including the printing, list generation and postage.

Her second phase of mailing was done by a mail house. This is a company which does the whole mailing process from list procurement, to printing and addressing and then sends it out using a bulk mail stamp. Using a mail house for a larger run (1,000 pieces) she paid $.82 per piece. Why so much cheaper? Well the mail house pays a much smaller amount of postage because they use a bulk rate instead of buying postage. Additionally, they generally can decrease the cost of mailing and you don’t have to do a separate process of addressing them (no cost of labels). I have found that a normal postcard, sent through a mail house generally costs between $1.00 and a letter with an envelope costs about $1.50 per piece. Our preferred vendor for mailing is Mailco (I Have worked with Tammy for 12 years and she is the consumate professional!)

Blog Design

So a basic WordPress self hosted blog with a premium theme like Thesis, Genesis or Headway should cost about $750 to setup with graphics, a few pages and some blog posts. Your hosting and url should be purchased by and owned by you. We recommend GoDaddy but have heard that Host Gator is a good alternative too! The hosting cost should not be more than about $20 per month. We like to use big companies like these because they have secure backup plans in place, advanced support departments and generally very high up times (meaning that your website is rarely down).

Why you want to have a premium theme versus a custom theme. Okay, this is a little more controversial! A premium theme means that you have some great back end options (like adding pages easily or doing some customization). There are hundreds of programmers and designers who work on these themes and who could help if your primary builder gets hit by a bus.

A custom theme means that you have a theme built for you from the ground up (usually this will cost in the $1,500 to $2,000 range or higher). We see this a lot when someone has a particular design in mind and is more concerned about looks than function or search engine ranking. The reason we hate custom designs is that generally, only the designer can manipulate it easily OR they set it up so the first time you have to update WordPress the theme breaks or any other problems we have encountered with custom themes over the years. While it may be tempting to get EXACTLY what you want, think about if it is worth not having access to multiple people who could help you in the future (which comes with it’s own costs).

Website Design

So since we build blogs, you might think that I am anti-website. That having been said, I am pro website in a number of different situations. If you are doing an ecommerce website or need to take confidential information (like Social Security numbers) as some financial people do, I HIGHLY recommend a website instead of a blog. Blogs are great marketing tools but are not fabulous at protecting data or setting up shopping carts and large numbers of products. Now, if you are just selling 10 or 20 items a blog is fine!

Website design can cost between $3,500 to infinity depending on what you are looking for. One word of caution though…we talk to a lot of small biz owners who wind up telling us their great idea about a site that can sell a variety of products or be an online mall or some other form of being a meeting or marketplace. If you are thinking that you are going to to be the next Amazon, first think that there is a current Amazon with a world-wide reach, first to market advantage and REALLY deep pockets.

Social Media Marketing

So, our social media marketing services cost $750 to set up and between $400 and $1,000 a month to create content and hand post it (instead of using posting services like Hootsuite or Social Oomph). We do this because the visibility of hand posts is better (you can test this by looking at your Facebook wall and seeing how many Hootsuite posts show up there!)

One thing to watch for with social media and blog marketing is to make sure that YOU own the internet properties and that if you don’t pay them on a monthly basis you don’t lose everything you have built up! One of the major providers offers integrated marketing BUT they own the info and if you don’t pay them then you lose almost everything!

Hmmmm I think that covers most of what small business marketing should cost, if you have any others you would like to know more about, please leave a comment and we will be happy to add it!

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