How much of my profit should I spend on marketing?
First, a general rule of thumb is to plan on investing at least 10 percent of your gross annual income in marketing. So if you think you'll make $50,000 in your first year, make up a strategic marketing action plan covering diverse online, print and networking initiatives running around $5,000.
That said, many businesses advance their objectives and sales sooner by allocating more time and money to marketing--sometimes as much as 20 to 30 percent of their anticipated annual gross revenues--especially if they are introducing a new company, product or service.
Thrifty marketers can take advantage of lots of viral, print and face-to-face networking options which should be launched only after you cover the cost of developing your "Entrepreneurial Success Starter Kit" (a professional logo and brand, a business card, direct mail piece or sales sheet, at least one tile ad for web advertising and one web signature ad, a letterhead and a website).
Once you have a strong brand, a lean toolkit of promotional collateral and your main sales driver--a branded website (via the services of a graphic designer, webmaster and copywriter)--you should allocate funds that cover several other professional marketing services.
You'll need several providers/advertising resources including an e-mail marketing firm (I love MyEmma.com) and your local regional chamber of commerce--which hopefully offers opportunities to advertise online via a hyperlinked web ad on their site.
Depending on your geographic footprint, you should invest in attending and possibly joining various trade networking groups. You should look into online advertising opportunities with these trade groups, blog on your own blog, set up social networking accounts with at least one venue that you can commit to on a weekly basis (Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn) and send out regular information via follow-up emails to folks you have met in face-to-face networking gatherings.
All of these initiatives will help establish your company's viability and trustworthiness in spaces (and in ways) where lots of your prospects expect you to be.
Of course these are just the basics, there's lots more you can do to help position your firm with strength in the market and to land more sales. Take a look at my sales and marketing articles on www.WomenEntrepreneur.com, and feel free to contact me directly for additional info!