Marketing budget template and best practices for businesses

Marketing can help your children’s activity business reach new families within your community and beyond. While there is a cost associated with marketing, proper budgeting can ensure that you are not stretching your funds too thin while you wait for the income from all of the new business.

Our goal at Sawyer is to help children’s activity providers spend less time on administrative tasks and more time doing what they love: changing lives through learning and discovery. In this guide, we discuss a topic many small businesses struggle with: marketing budgets. How much should you spend on marketing? What even are typical marketing costs? We’ll go over all of your marketing questions and include a marketing budget template that you can download and use. 

Marketing for small businesses

There are a variety of different marketing tactics that you can implement for your small business. When deciding where to start, it is important to think about where your audience hangs out (both online and in person).

For children’s activity businesses, your main audience is parents and caregivers. In 2018, Pew Research reported that approximately 19 million millennials birthing people (55%) had given birth to a child. That means millennial parents are taking over as the dominant age range. In order to create marketing that reaches millennial parents, we recommend these types of tactics.

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Marketing tactics for children’s activity businesses

  • Social media marketing. In 2015, Pew Research found that Facebook is the most popular social media platform among parents, followed by Instagram. Therefore, we recommend children’s activity businesses spend time and money on social media marketing to reach this audience. For further information, check out our guides on Facebook marketing and Instagram marketing.
  • Email marketing. Millennials are digital natives and many use email for professional and personal use. Utilizing email marketing is a great way to catch parents on the go and let them know why they should book classes with you.
  • Google Ads and digital marketing. Creating Google Ads might feel overwhelming, but it is not too difficult. It might not be necessary for smaller children’s activity businesses in the suburbs, but if you are running activities in a large city like New York City, making use of Google Ads can help you find parents who are searching for what you offer. Use our guide to learn how to set up Google Ads for your business.
  • Marketing through schools. By making connections with schools in your community, you are gaining important social proof that your business is trusted. Millennials trust user-generated content (UGC) and advice from others more than they trust brand created marketing.
  • Joining a marketplace. Millennial parents are busy and they want to be able to find and book activities for their children quickly. By joining a marketplace like Sawyer, your business can be easily searchable by thousands of parents. Plus, parents can see reviews, learn more about your activities, and book directly. Learn more about the Sawyer Marketplace and how it can help your business grow.

Marketing costs for small businesses

Deciding which marketing tactics make the most sense for your business depends on your audience, your goals, and of course, your budget. The best part about marketing is that you can often determine the amount you want to spend on each tactic. Use these tips to make these decisions.

  • Determine your goals. What are you hoping to accomplish? Be as specific as possible. Are you looking for a certain number of new students? Or, do you want to see how many people your marketing tactics reach? Or maybe you are trying to increase sales on a certain item, like parties? Understanding your specific marketing goals will help you decide how much to spend. 
  • Save where you can. Leverage organic content by taking and editing photos yourself and using Canva templates to build your own marketing campaigns. Use our guide with information about Smartphone photography to help you take your own photos like a pro.
  • Run tests. Don’t use up your whole marketing budget at the start. Instead, plan and run small tests to see what works and what doesn’t. Start with social media marketing, then move onto email marketing, then move onto Google Ads. It takes longer, but you are being smarter with your marketing costs so that you can really invest in what works.
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How much should a small business spend on marketing?

The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that the “average business spends 1.08% of its revenues on advertising, with variations from industry to industry.” Therefore, if your sales are $500,000 annually, 1% would mean spending $5,000 on marketing. 

When you are just starting out, you will likely need to spend more money on marketing because you need to get your name out to customers. As you grow and gain a group of loyal families, you can pull back on marketing.

Marketing budget template

Ready to dive in and make your own marketing budget? Adapt our marketing budget template to suit the needs of your business. Just remember: A marketing plan is a roadmap. Learn from each experiment and make your decisions based on those learnings. Do not run a tactic that you know will not work just because you have attributed money in your budget to it. Instead, reallocate that money to a tactic that will work!

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We hope that this guide has taught you more about marketing budgets and marketing tactics for your small business. If you are looking for guidance on managing and running your children’s education and activity business, the team at Sawyer is here to help. 

With our suite of tools, like custom forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, flexible payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless scheduling and registration on any device, Sawyer saves business owners 28 hours per month. If you are ready to spend less time on admin and more time doing more of what you love, see how Sawyer can help with a free trial or demo.

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