Marketing is an essential function of any business who wants to draw new customers. Whether B2B or B2C, you have to promote your business so people know you exist. Today's marketing is way more complicated than before which makes it crucial for small business owners to carefully plan and research what marketing options will be most effective both with cost and results. 

But how much does it cost? 

That depends. 

For a local business, you should consider print as well as digital. For an online or consulting business, the Internet holds a lot of choices that may work for you. 

Let's look at all the aspects of marketing: 

First, you need a website. Your website should be a 24/7 functioning sales person for you. It needs to be branded properly with calls-to-action to capture leads and most importantly, optimized for the search engines (SEO). Yes, there are free and do-it-yourself (DIY) platforms out there, but I don't' recommend them. 

Budget for a website:

Depending on what you need it to do, ie, shopping cart or booking system, it may cost from $1200 - $2500+. Do your due diligence before you hire someone. Google them, read reviews, look at other websites they've done. Just because they say the can build a WordPress site, doesn't mean they know everything about WordPress and follow best practices. Social media needs to be integrated in the website. Check out their social media accounts. Are they active? How many followers do they have? What do they blog about? Does it seem like they know what they're talking about? 

SEO: 

Yes, you can hire someone to do your SEO, but you can do it yourself with keyword research, regular blogging and being active in social media. However, if you want to outsource this, figure on anything from $350 - $500 upfront fee for optimizing your site, and then an ongoing fee of $100 - $200 a month for monitoring. See social media below...

Graphics: 

Sure you can use free tools like Canva.com to create graphics if you are so inclined, but you may want to have your logo and social media cover graphics professionally done. Depending on the designer, they can charge from $50 - $100/hr and based on how many redos, can cost from $200 - $1000+.  You want to have quality graphics as these portray your online image. 

Market Research and Planning: 

Because there are so many marketing channels, you need to determine your target market niche(s). This requires some research. You can do it yourself by searching online for the information you need on your specific target(s) and the economic overviews of your particular industry. Then based on the research, developing both strategic and tactical marketing plans. Hiring this out will cost anywhere from $500 to $1000 depending on the type of business it is. 

Social Media Marketing:

You don't have to be on ALL the networks. Just the ones that your target market frequents the most (you'll learn this from your research) and where you'll get the most exposure and SEO. You can learn how to do this all yourself, but know that it takes more work up front to build a following and search for your target market on the networks. You also need to produce content. (See the next section). Just posting willy nilly on Facebook is not social media marketing. That's a waste of time. If you hire someone to do it for you, plan on spending from $500 - $750 up front for setups and ongoing from $750 - $2500 a month, again, depending on your business and target(s). 

Blogging, Videos, and Other Content:

Google wants fresh relevant content written for the human reader. Video marketing is also hot and fairly easy to do. Pictures and podcasts are also good content. Much of these you can do yourself, but again, it's time-consuming. AND they need to be good quality as these reflect your company's image. A good content marketer/blogger will cost around $50 per post (300-500 words) and you need to have a fresh post at least once a week, 2-3 times a week is optimal. Depending on the extent on the type of video marketing you want done, a short, professionally 2-minute video can go for $100 - $250. Longer, more complex productions will be, of course, cost more. Doing podcasts requires some sort of recording, hosting and distribution system which also have a cost. Podcasting also takes planning and maybe even having other people involved. 

There are many free online tools, but keep in mind that as with learning any new software program, there is a learning curve. It will take you more time at first until you get used to it. The majority of these free tools have upgraded versions with more features. They can cost from $10 - $50+ a month or $50 - $400+ a year. 

Print and Direct Mail:

You may want to use some old-fashioned print and direct mail advertising. Especially for local businesses, these may be an effective option. Postcards are the most affordable. Depending on how many you are sending, printing and the paper stock they can cost from $250 - $2000. You also need to buy a list and that cost will vary with how many names and what contact information you want. Shop around. And, no you can't buy email lists. It's against the law. Build your email list organically with a lead capturing offer on your website and draw them in with good content. 

Paid Online Advertising: 

If you want to get more instant exposure, especially for a local business, you might want to invest in some Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads on Google and on the Social Media Networks. Again, based on your research, you'll determine which networks are best for reaching your target market. With PPC, you get charged unless someone clicks on your ad. You have to pay up front, say, $25 for one week, and on most of the networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, you can target people by location, age, gender and in some even likes and interests. Furthermore, having a strategy on what you want to accomplish with the ad beforehand increase your chances for success. What's nice is that you can track it and the networks have comprehensive reporting systems.  So, for budgeting purposes, set $25/week. Any less than that won't give you the reach you need. 

By now you're probably thinking, "Why do I want to get into business?" Well, I highly recommend working with a SCORE mentor for FREE. Yes, some things are still free! Both SCORE and the SBA have tools and offer assistance in getting funding so you can put all this in a business plan that makes sense. 

One thing you must remember....

Put Your Best Foot Foward -- Always! 

There's a lot of competition out there. And not just your direct competitors, but competing for people's attention online. Prepare, plan and be patient. It doesn't work overnight. 

Budget picture CC license credit: http://nyphotographic.com/