Marketing budgets are the fuel for your business growth. This crucial aspect of any company’s strategy dictates how effectively it can reach customers, innovate, and expand its market share. Yet, navigating the realm of marketing finance is no small feat.

The specific areas that I want to highlight are:

  • Key insights into the average size and trends of marketing budgets in the UK and globally.
  • The often-overlooked consequences of underfunded marketing strategies.
  • How fractional CMOs and outsourced marketing can revolutionise budget efficiency.

A well-fed marketing budget is not just an expense, but an investment in your company’s future.  So, let’s make a start …

The Role and Size of Marketing Budgets

A graphic demonstrating all the different areas used in marketing budgets


If you’re looking for business growth, marketing budgets lead the way. Understanding the typical size and allocation of these budgets is crucial for benchmarking your own strategy.

Marketing budgets fell to record lows in 2021 and, despite predictions that they would recover, have struggled to rise due to increasing costs and economic uncertainty. This trend has seen budgets fall from 12.5% in 2016 to 6.4% in 2021 and, whilst the fall is slowing, they have continued downward – 9.5% of company revenue in 2022 to 9.1% in 2023.

In response to the evolving marketing landscape, where marketing has become a pivotal pillar for customer acquisition and brand development, CMOs are being asked to achieve more with less and less.

“75% of CMOs face pressure to cut martech spend” – Gartner ‘The State of Marketing budget and Strategy in 2023’

Investment is a critical component of success in all industries but the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), who marginally upgraded their 2023 and 2024 GDP forecast, has lowered their outlook for 2025 “as economic growth for all three years flatlines.”

However, it’s also important for CMOs to remember what you get in return by increasing your marketing budget and what you risk by letting the tank run close to empty.

Components of a Marketing Budget

Decoding the anatomy of a marketing budget reveals a varied mix of elements, each playing a vital role. At its core, a marketing budget can encompass a range of expenditures.

  1. Advertising Costs: This traditional pillar includes expenses for print, broadcast, and online advertising. It’s the visible tip of the marketing iceberg, capturing immediate public attention.
  2. Digital Marketing: An area that’s expanded over recent years. Digital marketing covers SEO, social media campaigns, email marketing, and content creation.
  3. Staffing and Outsourcing: From in-house marketing teams to external agencies and consultants, staffing costs form a significant portion of the budget. This also includes the emerging trend of hiring fractional CMOs – a cost-effective strategy for expert guidance.
  4. Market Research: Understanding your audience is key. Budget allocations for market research provide insights into consumer behaviours and preferences, shaping more effective marketing strategies.
  5. Brand Development: This includes expenses for developing and maintaining a brand’s identity – from logo design to messaging and public relations efforts.
  6. Technology and Tools: Investment in marketing technology, such as CRM systems, analytics tools, AI and automation software, is essential for efficient and targeted marketing efforts.

Consequences of Inadequate Marketing Budgets

The perils of underfunding in marketing are akin to sailing a ship in stormy seas with a broken compass. The consequences of inadequate marketing budgets are both profound and far-reaching, often leading businesses into troubled waters.

  1. Diminished Brand Visibility: With insufficient funds, your brand’s voice can get lost in an increasingly noisy and crowded market. This reduced visibility means potential customers remain unaware of your offerings, limiting your growth and market penetration.
  2. Limited Customer Reach and Engagement: A small budget can severely restrict the scope and effectiveness of marketing campaigns. This leads to missed opportunities in connecting with and engaging a broader audience, which is crucial in today’s digitally dominated world.
  3. Stunted Innovation and Adaptability: Marketing is not just about promotion; it’s about staying ahead. Underfunded marketing can mean missing out on the latest trends and technologies, leaving your business lagging behind more agile competitors.
  4. Poor Market Positioning and Perception: With inadequate funding, there’s a risk of significantly reduced marketing efforts that fail to accurately convey the quality and value of your products or services. This can lead to a negative market perception and weakened brand positioning.
  5. Long-Term Financial Impact: Perhaps the most critical consequence is the long-term financial impact. Underinvesting in marketing can lead to lower sales and revenue, creating a vicious cycle of limited growth potential and further budget constraints.

The Case for Larger Marketing Budgets

The call for larger marketing budgets is not just about spending more; it’s about investing strategically for exponential returns. Here’s why increasing your marketing budget can be a game-changer for your business:

  1. Enhanced Brand Awareness and Reach: A larger budget allows for broader and more creative marketing campaigns. This translates to heightened brand awareness and a wider reach, ensuring your message resonates with a larger audience.
  2. Improved Customer Engagement and Loyalty: With more resources, you can craft more personalised and engaging marketing efforts. This not only attracts new customers but also fosters loyalty among existing ones, leading to repeat business and referrals.
  3. Greater Competitive Edge: In today’s fast-paced market, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. A robust marketing budget facilitates innovation and adaptability, giving you a competitive advantage in your industry.
  4. Higher Quality Leads and Increased Sales: More funds mean the ability to target higher-quality leads through advanced marketing strategies. This often results in increased sales and a better return on investment.
  5. Long-term Growth and Stability: Investing in marketing is investing in the future of your business. A larger budget sets the stage for sustainable growth, allowing your company to expand its market share and establish a strong presence in the industry.

Companies with substantial marketing budgets, such as Apple, McDonalds, and Amazon, exemplify this. Their consistent investment in marketing has propelled their growth, brand recognition, and customer loyalty, making them leaders in their respective fields.

While increasing your marketing budget requires careful planning and execution, the potential rewards far outweigh the risks. It’s an investment that can lead to sustainable growth, enhanced brand equity, and a stronger market position.

Maximising Marketing Budget Effectiveness

Marketing Budget sign - green background with yellow sign with the words 'Act Now'

Allocating a larger marketing budget is just the first step. The key lies in maximising its effectiveness. Here’s how businesses can get the most out of their increased marketing investments:

  1. Strategic Planning and Allocation: Start with a clear, data-driven marketing strategy. Allocate funds to channels and activities that align with your business goals and target audience. Regularly review and adjust these allocations based on performance metrics.
  2. Leveraging Technology and Analytics: Invest in marketing technologies that offer deeper insights and automation capabilities. Tools like CRM systems, analytics platforms, and AI-driven marketing solutions can enhance efficiency and drive better results.
  3. Outsourcing to Experts: Consider the cost-benefit of outsourcing certain marketing functions. Hiring a fractional CMO or engaging with specialised marketing agencies can bring in expert knowledge and skills, often at a fraction of the cost of full-time employees.
  4. Focusing on ROI-Driven Activities: Prioritise marketing initiatives that offer measurable returns. Track the performance of different campaigns and channels to identify the most profitable ones and focus your efforts accordingly.
  5. Adapting to Market Changes: Stay flexible and adaptable. The marketing landscape is constantly evolving, so be prepared to pivot your strategies in response to new trends, technologies, and customer behaviours.

The concept of a fractional CMO is particularly noteworthy. CMOs offer high-level marketing expertise without the commitment of a full-time executive hire. They can provide strategic direction, oversee campaigns, and help in optimising your marketing spend, making them an ideal solution for businesses looking to enhance their marketing efficiency without overspending.

In essence, maximising your marketing budget is not just about how much you spend, but how wisely you spend it. By focusing on strategic, ROI-driven activities and leveraging external expertise, businesses can significantly enhance their marketing effectiveness and overall business growth.

marketing check mark

Multiple threads of a well-planned marketing budget are essential for business success. Understanding the landscape of marketing budgets, uncovering their crucial role, the pitfalls of underfunding, and the undeniable benefits of a larger, well-allocated budget are vital in these difficult economic conditions.

Key takeaways include:

  • The consequences of underfunding are stark, leading to limited growth and competitive disadvantages.
  • Average marketing budgets in the UK and globally show a trend towards lack of investment but with the correct strategy and support there is still a lot that can be achieved.
  • Solutions like fractional CMOs offer a path to maximising budget efficiency, blending expertise with cost-effectiveness.

As you consider your marketing strategy, remember that your budget is more than a figure; it’s a reflection of your business’s aspirations and potential. Reassessing and potentially increasing your marketing budget could be the catalyst your business needs to thrive in a competitive market.

If you’re looking to delve deeper into optimising your marketing strategies or exploring the benefits of fractional CMOs, request a 1-2-1 discovery call. Investing in marketing is investing in your business’s future – a step that promises growth, innovation, and lasting success.



Gartner ‘The State of Marketing Budget and Strategy in 2023
The British Chamber of Commerce ‘BCC Economic Forecast: Economic Growth Stuck in a Rut’ – December 2023