“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” – Henry Ford

Whether you’re a CMO, Director of Marketing or a CEO, many of you may have heard that the industry standard spend on your marketing should follow “the 5% rule” – meaning 5% of your gross sales revenue should be spent on marketing. But is that rule still applicable? Will 5% of your revenue do the trick to cover the costs needed to support your marketing goals?

When I work with my clients on their annual marketing budget, there is no question that we look at their financials, but more importantly, we look at the year’s strategic goals and objectives, and then prioritize them based on proposed costs. From there, we develop a tactical marketing plan and review the costs of these tactics against the budget, adjusting the budget as needed.

Although the 5% rule may be an ideal, I find that there really are no hard and fast rules and I have clients spend as much at 20% of their revenue on marketing and those that spend as little as 2%, but I can tell you that if you spend very little, you should expect the same results.

I’ve outlined below a few areas to consider in determining your marketing budget for 2019. 

Strategic Plan

Take a look at your company’s strategy and goals for 2019. What are you going to focus on – operations, planning, or expansion? Have them mapped out and if your focus isn’t marketing, consider what the budget should be for a year of maintaining your current brand positioning.


If marketing is a priority and this is the year you are expanding into a new market, or launching a new service or product, then your budget should reflect this priority of your company. If, for example, you spent only 2% of revenue last year on marketing, this year would be the year to double it to really make the brand impact you need.


With marketing as a priority, you’ll need to make a plan to implement your marketing activities to support your goals and objectives. For example, if you’re looking to expand into another country, you’ll need to allocate your market spend to encompass the additional money needed to “break out” into a new market.

The same holds true with a new product or service. The money you spend will directly correlate with the marketing plan you establish.

Consider your marketing spend as an additional motivator to get your brand messaging out there and achieve the goals you’ve made for your business.

Remain Flexible

 Changes will happen, particularly in the digital landscape. Regardless of how much planning you do, be prepared to be flexible with your budget and to make adjustments when needed.

In order to prevent any massive, unexpected budget increases, it may be useful to review your marketing plan and budget every quarter. This will give you the opportunity to revise any aspect of your business that could require shifts in budgeting to create a better impression on your prospects.

When it comes to your marketing, you’ll need to invest in the right activities to see the results you want. With over 20 years of marketing expertise, I know that when you invest in the right marketing activities, you’ll reach your goals.