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What Percent of Revenue Do Publicly Traded Companies Spend on Marketing and Sales?

January 14, 2019

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 How much should I spend on Marketing?



In the mid 90s, Steve Jobs took a company on the brink of extinction and turned it into the largest and most successful brand in the world. The Apple of the 90s looks a whole lot shinier today, sitting pretty at the top of Forbes most valuable brands list for the seventh year in a row. So, how did Jobs do it? Besides being a visionary and perfectionist, Steve Jobs was a genius marketer. He understood the vital role marketing plays in a company’s success, which explains why Apple and many of the most successful companies in the world spend more on marketing and sales than they do on research and development. A strong brand and marketing strategy is a powerful asset and Jobs knew it.


Marketing Matters


Determining the effect of marketing on a company’s growth is not black and white. There are many factors that combine to create a successful and growing business. However, without marketing a company gets very little, if any, promotion or exposure, meaning the chances of growth are slim to none. This is a well-known fact among marketers, evident in the amount of dollars successful corporations allocate toward sales and marketing every year.


So, how does a company determine how much of their budget to spend on marketing? We decided to look at a handful of some of the most successful large and mid-sized companies across a range of industries to find out how much they allocate for marketing and what they get in return.

Is 10% the Magic Number?


Ten percent — this is the magic number you will likely hear whenever you ask how much of your  

revenue you should spend on marketing. But is that true for everyone? What about a company in its growth phase vs. a well-established brand like Apple?


According to a 2016-2017 Gartner Research study, companies are now spending roughly 12% of annual revenue on overall marketing. The study concluded that “larger companies (>$5 billion revenue) spend 13% of revenue on marketing, while smaller companies ($250 million to $500 million revenue) spend roughly 10% of annual revenue.”


A 2017 CMO survey published by the American Marketing Association and Duke University pegged the numbers a bit lower, reporting that across all industries businesses spend 11.4% of budget on marketing and only 6.9% of revenue on marketing. Of course, these figures vary wildly when you drill down into each industry.


Percent of revenue by industry:

Education: 18.5%

Consumer services: 17.4%

Transportation: 11.2%

Consumer Packaged Goods: 11%

Service Consulting: 9.4%