Originally answered on Quora: How much of your budget should go into advertising in a brand new business operation?
I am beginning with the premise that the purpose of advertising is lead generation. As such, this is a Marketing Activity. I specifically call it “Marketing Activities” as marketing often ends up being too vague. The things you do are the activities that generate leads for your business.
There are so many free and extremely low cost “Marketing Activities” options for a brand new business. I am assuming you are bootstrapped and looking for your first few customers for the rest of this answer.
But make sure to budget your time. The question implies money spend by asking about budget. But time is the one thing you cannot get back or make more of. So consider your time when “budgeting”.
Create some great content, a legitimate website, not just for SEO, but because people will look at, and for, it to determine you are real.
Use email to share what you are doing. YAMM (Yet Another Mail Merge) is free and almost free for email merges when you are getting started.
Provide useful content for your target customers and ask them to share. This can be via email, your site/blog, social media, videos, podcasts, speaking, and more. Make sure that with any of these you include a Call To Action. People are busy and overwhelmed. Tell them what to do next. Make it simple.
And remember, the whole purpose of Marketing Activities, is to generate leads. Focus on the meaningful outcome for you, the one that turns into leads who then turn into paying customers through your sales process, a separate process from your Marketing Activities.
It is easy to lose sight of the meaningful outcome. Uber did so and I wrote about how their $100M mistake holds lessons for you. Read more about that here.
(Thanks, Amy Potter for requesting my answer.)