Marketing your startup: a budget breakdown

Starting a business is exciting, nerve-wracking, rewarding, and challenging all at once. In the beginning stages, many entrepreneurs are unsure what kind of marketing budget they should have prepared — they're miffed when it comes to business startup costs. I value transparency, so I’ve put together a handy-dandy list of startup marketing costs, including all of my recommended services, along with my pricing.

The All-Inclusive Startup Marketing Budget Breakdown

☑ Logo Design | Your logo lays the foundation for the rest of your branding and marketing efforts. It is worth investing the time and money here. Read my earlier blog post on why some logos cost $100 and some cost $10,000. | $1,250

☑ Stationery Design | Every business needs on-brand business cards, letterhead, professional envelopes, and custom thank you cards to send out to their clients. While these materials may not be used as frequently as they were 10 years ago, they add an extra level of professionalism to your business when they are used, making sure your clients and colleagues take you seriously. | $500

☑ Leave Behind Design | Depending on whether you’re looking for a basic post card, a folded brochure, or a bounded book, it’s important to have a marketing piece you can leave behind with potential customers when you attend events. Design pricing varies based on complexity. | $250 to $1,000

☑ Printing | It’s important to remember actual print costs as well — you’ll want to have that stationery and those leave behinds printed by a professional printer. I help consult with my clients about the best local printer, or online printer, for their print fulfillment needs. This number varies based on quantity and quality of printed materials. | $250 to $1,000

☑ Content Creation | Copy is a critical component of your brand. The content you share on your website and marketing materials is worth investing in. Develop your tagline, message, elevator pitch, and more. Hiring a professional alleviates a huge burden and allows to stay focused on your operations. I'll refer you to a colleague for this. | $2,500

☑ Photography | Photography is another critical component of your brand. Your logo, copy, and photography all work together to communicate your message to potential customers. You must have a professional business portrait (a.k.a. headshot) and you should also have brand and/or professional product photography to use on your website, in your blog, on social media, and in your advertising efforts. I'll refer you to a colleague for this. | $750 to $1,450

☑ Website Design | If you don’t have a website that’s mobile friendly, you look like a dinosaur. Whether you want to generate leads online, or just want customers to be able to check out your site after they hear about you word-of-mouth, it is imperative to have a strategic website with a clear call to action. This number varies based on complexity — if you’re looking for more advanced features and functionality, expect the number to fall on the higher end. | $2,250 to $5,550

☑ Hosting & Domain | Don’t forget about costs associated with purchasing a domain name for your website and hosting for your website. Domain names usually cost no more than $15 (unless your domain is already owned by someone else and you have to pay big bucks to obtain it). Hosting varies based on the website platform your site lives on and on how many visitors you anticipate having on your site at any given time. | $100/year to $300/year

☑ SEO Setup | As much as I'm a rebel, I recognize the importance of playing by the rules when it comes to search engine optimization and using only white-hat, tried and true techniques. As you start researching SEO, you’ll find several different methodologies. Take caution whenever an SEO firm promises top page results — those are usually empty promises that might only be attainable by companies who practice unethical/black-hat techniques. Rarely will your top page ranking remain in tact with a black-hat approach. SEO Setup is one part of the equation, but regular, monthly efforts must be taken to rank high in Google searches (more on that in Ongoing Support below). | $1,850

☑ Marketing Setup | Once the foundation has been laid for the look and feel of your company, it’s time to starting thinking marketing strategy. Creating a well-researched marketing plan, setting up and designing out social media pages, creating and editorial calendar (and more) are important next steps. | $2,450

☑ Promotional Video | Video is one of the best ways to grab and maintain attention from website visitors. Having a professional company video really helps you stand out from the competition. It’s also a great tool to leverage if you can post video series on YouTube. Leverage that platform to establish trust and credibility and point people back to your website once they’ve watched your vid. I'll refer you to a colleague for shooting and editing the video, but I'll help with creative direction and market distribution. | $3,000

☑ Blogging | If you don’t have the time or energy to commit to writing one blog post/week, you need to hire it out. Blogging (and all kinds of sharing of original content) are mission critical to your SEO efforts. Don’t let all the work of SEO Setup fall by the wayside because you don’t have time to write a blog. Hire a pro to take care of it for you. | $100/post

☑ Ongoing Support | From design updates, website updates, marketing implementation, social media advertising, print advertising, and all things SEO-maintenance, it is a relief to have monthly design and marketing support. This price will vary depending on how much ongoing work you have. | $360-$960/month

All in all, on the higher end, you should anticipate spending around $20,850 for all marketing startup costs and around $1,085/month to ensure the longevity of your business.

A little sticker shock? Must be your first time ;)

Most agencies will work with you to find a solution that fits your budget, even if that means cutting out or minimizing some of the normal steps in the process. They'll also work with you to figure out suitable payment terms. For clear projects with a fixed deliverable, many agencies bill 50% down, 50% upon project completion (though I’ve seen other models, too). Some agencies even offer payment plans — I do! When you work with me, you can spread your payments out over 4 to 8 months, depending on all the services you’re packaging together.

And while sure, you can always hire your nephew who is in high school for cheap (don’t worry, he totally took a computer class after second period last year), I’ve noticed that entrepreneurs who go this route usually end up frustrated at a lack of communication and without quality end deliverables. You'll probably end up hiring a professional agency in the long run anyway, so take my advice: do it right the first time.


I'm happy to take care of all the items on this list for you.