How much money should I spend marketing my business locally?
How much money should I spend marketing my business locally?

Finding the magic formula for your local marketing budget.

Marketing, the buzz-wordiest of buzzwords that every business owner knows they need but rarely understands. While large national marketing and advertising campaigns are at least somewhat tangible and intuitive to the average business owner, local marketing can still be a challenge to fully comprehend and budget properly.

So how much should you be spending on marketing your business locally? It depends (I know, you came here looking for answers).

According to industry experts, there really are a number of factors to consider before putting a price tag on your local marketing budget.

Pam Evans, vice president of interactive marketing for Premium Franchise Brands, said she usually advises 30 to 50 percent of a marketing budget, but that it all depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

“Are you looking to generate leads or awareness? Where is your business located and where is it located in its own lifecycle? What type of business are you running? These are the questions that directly affect how much of your marketing budget should be allocated locally,” Evans said.

She also said it all comes back to understanding your return on investment.

“Investing one dollar to get two in return is the right approach,” Evans continued. “Then you can start to scale back once the returns increase to the desired level.”

For Toppers Pizza, the number that works is an even 4 percent.

“All of our stores are required to spend at least 4 percent of sales on local store marketing efforts,” Toppers’ Manager of Marketing and Public Relations Bridget Keeler said. “We fine-tuned this percentage during our beginning years and have found that spending at this level has yielded a great year-over-year average unit volume increase.”

Four percent may be the magic number for Toppers, but that certainly won’t be the case for every franchise brand.

“There is no one silver bullet that works for everybody,” Steve Beagelman, president and CEO of SMB Franchise Advisors, said. “Every industry and every brand is different.”

And while Beagelman agrees that local marketing is essential for franchisees and franchisors alike, he cautions that the biggest mistake he sees with local marketing is business owners who spend the money without ensuring their business is ready to capitalize on the effects.

Sally Mink, marketing manager for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®in Brentwood, Tennessee, sees a similar problem of wasteful local marketing, namely, not targeting the right people.

“I think the biggest marketing mistake I have seen is not fully understanding your demographic,” said Mink. “I’ve seen businesses set up booths and tables at events that are based around something completely opposite of what they are trying to promote. It is easy for the marketers of a business to get involved in marketing channels that they think are fun and exciting but may not be the best option for that specific business.”

Likewise, Evans sees another mistake that many local marketers make: not knowing how to measure the return on investment or the path to revenue.

For Evans, it all boils down to one simple truth:

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”