It’s budgeting season (yay?) and the time to decide where you’re allocating your precious marketing dollars is now. Businesses fail or succeed on the strength of their marketing, so careful planning is essential. Here are 11 things to consider while creating next year’s budget.
1. Start With a Number
Obviously the most important question to start with is: how much will you spend? Spend too much and you won’t get a good return on your investment, spend too little and you could be passing up opportunities for growth. Decide if your marketing spend will be pegged to a percentage of sales, units of sales, or objectives and tasks. If you’re not sure, here’s a great explainer.
2. Be Goal-Oriented
Without clearly stated goals, you’ll have no way of measuring the success or failure of your marketing strategy. Even the best, most aggressive marketing plan can’t do everything. Decide where you’ll focus your energy and what metrics you will use to determine success. That will help you figure out where to dedicate funds.
3. First Comes the Plan, Then Comes the Budget
It would be impossible to create a detailed marketing budget without a detailed marketing plan. If you haven’t already, build your marketing plan for the coming year, keeping in mind both the big goals and the nitty gritty. Who are you trying to reach? How will you reach them? Are you focusing on lead acquisitions, conversions, or sales? Are you seeking out new audiences, and if so, who are they and what do they want? Do you have any big product launches you will be focused on? Create a detailed, realistic plan that tightly aligns with your 2017 brand story.
4. Look to the Past
What has worked for you before? What channels and approaches have been the most successful for reaching your audience? Advice is great, but only you know your specific slice of the marketplace. Spend money on proven winners.
5. But Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
It’s critical to evolve, too. Reach your customers where they are, but follow them where they are going (or even lead them somewhere new). Make sure to set aside some money for testing unproven channels. New to content marketing? This is an amazing guide to creating a winning strategy.
6. Get into the Details
When creating your budget documents, be sure to include everything you’ll be spending on next year. It may not be sexy, but if you don’t budget for things like an email platform, creative software, hosting, social media management apps, and other ongoing expenses, you’re going to be wondering where all the money went at the end of the year. Need some help? Here are some great templates.
7. Content Is Still King
Content marketing is bigger than ever this year, and if you’re not spending part of your budget on it, you’re probably falling behind. Take a look at our content marketing trend forecast for 2017 and be sure that your approach is maximizing your content’s potential. Still catching up? Here are 7 B2B startups that are crushing incumbents on the strength of their content marketing. Or you could always make Jessica Biel flirt with a yeti.
8. Don’t Snooze on Distribution
Okay so you put aside money to create this killer content, but how will you get it in front of your audience? There are free channels like social, search, and emails to your own lists. But investing in paid lift can make sure your message gets where it needs to go. Think display ads/retargeting, paid social, or content discovery.
9. Decide How Many Eggs to Put in Each Basket
Don’t forget to budget across any verticals you might have. Decide at the outset how much of the budget is going to go to each vertical based on your marketing goals for the year. Will you pour money into an under-performing vertical to help it grow? Or increase spending power in your most successful areas? That’s where your detailed marketing plan comes in: distribute your spend to help reach your stated goals for the year.
10. Spend Smart
It’s easy to blow through a ton of cash if you always get the premium version of every service and platform you use. But some things are worth spending extra on. Do an audit of your systems and services and see if there’s anything you can downgrade, or something crying out for an upgrade. Sometimes a stingy budget can hamper what would otherwise be a successful effort. Make sure every dollar you’re spending is going where it can be most effective.
11. Test, Analyze, Evaluate, and Grow
Analyze everything. Don’t wait until the end of the year: always continue to test, and if something isn’t working, change course. Don’t be afraid to be fluid if something changes mid-year, or if a trusted strategy is no longer working. Data is your friend: gather it, analyze it, and don’t be afraid to act on what it’s telling you.