by Seema and Fahim Mojawalla

2020 is being hailed as the “Year of Perfect Vision.” What’s your plan for it?

When we meet store owners at industry events, we always ask them to make a goal list for the following year, divided into months. Every month, we ask them to add one new product or service to their stores in a manageable way, so that it’s not overwhelming for them.

For marketing in our businesses, we must have a similar plan. For example, in our business every January we make a yearly marketing budget for the year. We normally budget 7% of our gross annual retail sales for our yearly marketing budget. We include the following items in our budget:

  1. Facebook Ads: (@ $___ /month) = $___
  2. Google Ads: (@ $___ / month) = $___
  3. Team Meals: (@ $___ / month) = $___
    We pay for our team’s meals and make this amount as part of our monthly budget. A happy team is the best marketing tool any small business can have.
  4. Valpak: (@ $___) = $___
    We only advertise with Valpak three times a year; the designer of our ads is an amazing artist. She converts our ads to digital images so we can share them on our website and our social media platforms. In this manner, we get good ROI. 
  5. GI Dispatch / Local Advertising: $___
    Don’t ignore the local impact of offline advertising. Many of our clients are seniors and they still read the local papers.
  6. EDDM: $___
  7. Chamber of Commerce (Membership + Ads) = $325 (COY) + $125 (Kidbiz) + $125 (Lightup) + $115 (Dues) + $500 (directory) = $1,190.00
  8. Basket Raffle Giveaways: $___
  9. Sponsorships / Gift Certificates: $___
  10. Email Marketing: $___
  11. Text Marketing: (@ $___ / month) = $___
  12. Website Maintenance: (@ $___ / month) = $___
  13. Yearly calendars & pens (and other promo products): $___
  14. Holiday cards & postage: $___

Every year, we have many people requesting donations for community fundraisers. We’ve included an amount to budget for these donations for the entire year. We request that groups contact our store in January to book these donations in advance, even if their event happens at the end of the year.

We encourage you to make a list of your marketing budget in the beginning of the year so that you have a guide for spending the entire year. Without this compass, you won’t know how to steer your store’s advertising ship.

Remember: always ask, find, grow, network, and, most importantly, do! Here’s to more profits, learning and innovation. For more tips and tricks, be sure to attend the 2020 Visionary Summit in Saint Louis, April 16th-20th, 2020!

Seema Mojawalla has a unique viewpoint that is always fresh, forward-thinking, and focused. She has an eye for merchandising and a passion for finding the perfect products to sell at Seema Boutique, located within the Spa of Shipping, Island Ship Center, an experience-based retail shipping spa located five miles south of Niagara Falls in Grand Island, New York, which she co-owns with her husband Fahim. Seema serves on the AMBC Board of Directors as Director of Innovation. #QueenofRetail

Fahim Mojawalla is a social media guru known for his love of hashtags. He uses them to explain his #FahimFix ideas—ideas which he shares as an instructor at industry events and at He serves on the AMBC Board of Directors as Director of Social Media and Board Chair and, along with his wife Seema, is an effervescent co-owner of Island Ship Center, the Spa of Shipping. Be sure to follow and @islandshipcenter on your favorite social media channels. #FahimFix

This article was originally published on page 10 of MBC Today Volume 22, Issue 1 (January / February 2020).