When I hear of a company talking about their marketing budget, I usually stop and think - then get a funny look on my face.
You see, "budget" can be defined (dictionary.com) as
an itemized allotment of funds, time, etc., for a given period.
the total sum of money set aside or needed for a purpose.
The problem with this is that it automatically implies that "marketing" for a business is an expense.
In fact, marketing (done properly) is not an expense, but an investment.
If marketing is an expense, then it should be stopped! The whole point of marketing is to increase sales, to turn a profit, to generate revenue. The whole point of marketing is to make more money! That is not an expense to your business. So often you hear of a business doing poorly and one of the first things they cut is their marketing. How are you supposed to make more money if you are not marketing?
Marketing is something that you design into your business. It should include all aspects of your business from advertising, customer relations, sales, post-sale contact and so on. There are aspects of almost every point of your business that can be tied in to marketing. This means that you can improve on them incrementally to increase the number of sales you make. This means that you should be measuring and constantly improving your marketing efforts.
This means that your marketing should be producing a measurable return on investment. For every dollar you spend in marketing, you should be making two dollars, five dollars, ten dollars in profit or sales. If your marketing is not doing that now, then you should stop it immediately and take a better look at your marketing strategy. If your marketing is producing results, then certainly do not stop doing it when your business is slowing down. What a perfect time to ramp it up and make more money!