Editor's Note: This article is part of Inc.'s weekly report on business niches in partnership with financial information company Sageworks.

Nearly every consumer-facing industry is going to have to spend some amount of money each year on reaching its audience through advertising. Determining the right amount, however, can be very difficult.

So just how much should your business be putting toward advertising? Looking at data from financial statements filed over the past year, Sageworks has identified the percentage of sales that various industries typically spend.

The commitment that private companies, on the whole, are making to advertising has remained relatively consistent over the past five years. During the 12-month period ending July 10, 2015, private companies in Sageworks's database spent 0.9 percent of sales on advertising, compared with 1 percent during the previous the 12 months. 


Several industries were well above the 0.9 percent average of all private companies, including beverage manufacturing, furniture stores, and personal care stores. Real estate agents especially stand out: The industry spent 4 percent of sales over the past 12 months on advertising. “Realtors want to make sure that when a consumer does think about buying a house, the consumer thinks of their firm,” Sageworks analyst Libby Bierman says. “Real estate is an industry where consumers don’t need an agent until they do.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the child day care services industry spent just 0.6 percent of its total sales on advertising during the past 12 months. Businesses in this sector typically rely on word-of-mouth advertising from parents who already have children enrolled, the Houston Chronicle reports.

For certain small businesses, however, having limited resources prevents entrepreneurs from investing significantly in advertising. “Especially for smaller companies, big-ticket items that may be more common for large companies--like large media buys--are off the table,” Bierman says.

Is your business spending the right amount on advertising? Locate your industry on the chart below to see what your industry peers are typically spending on ads.

 inline image