You may be familiar with the old saying about spending money to make money. The statement definitely holds true for marketing departments. But before you begin spending money uncontrollably in the name of marketing, you need to make sure you have a plan in place that will help you achieve your goals without blowing the budget.
Preparing a realistic marketing budget can help you align your projected expenses and revenue goals to make sure your action plan is achievable. When you are asked to prepare your budget request for next year, consider the following components to determine how to accurately forecast your expenses:
Identify Your Goals
When determining how much money you need to request for your marketing efforts or department, first you need to map out your goals. Where do you want to grow? Do these growth efforts warrant the purchase of additional tools, advertising space or even personnel?
Think about who you are trying to target with what message in the next year. Where is your target audience and how can you best reach them? Planning out this strategy will help you identify where you need to spend money. If that means purchasing ad space in a trade publication or adding a part-time associate to manage your social media, identifying your goals will help make you aware of what amount of money to request.
In addition, think about what type of tools you may need to accomplish these goals. You may need a new software program to manage an influx of new business. You may need to attend a training course to familiarize yourself with the latest technology or marketing practices. Including these items in your budget plans will increase your chances of being able to receive the money to make the purchase, as well as helping you stay focused.
Evaluate the Previous Year
Once you have identified your goals for the coming year, you will need to determine the amount of money needed to accomplish these goals. As you begin, take a look at the previous year’s budget. Evaluate what worked well and determine which expenditures were worth the money. If you plan to replicate or continue these initiatives, make sure to forecast for enough growth for the year.
Also be realistic about what didn’t work as well. You may have loved a certain campaign or program, but if it didn’t generate the expected revenue or brand awareness it may not be worth continuing.
When evaluating your previous year’s budget, be honest with yourself about what worked, what didn’t, and determine where you want to grow programming or initiatives for next year. Be sure to include a small cushion in case prices or initiatives change unexpectedly.
Consider Software Purchases & Data Integration
Again, tools are essential to fulfilling your daily tasks. You can’t do your job properly as a marketer without the right tools. Do you need to streamline your communications by adding a marketing automation system? Do you need better alignment between sales and marketing with a new comprehensive CRM tool? Maybe you need to increase the number of contacts allowed in your email-marketing program. These are all viable expenses that need to be included in your budget plans.
Likewise, you need to remember to include data integration in your budget. Integration can be cost effective, by making your existing software platforms work harder and smarter for you. In addition, integrating existing software programs can also make your job easier. However, you do need to budget for integration specialists (wink wink) and initial set up procedures.
When you choose to integrate, your processes will need to be established correctly in order to reap the full benefits of data integration. Form fields will need to be mapped correctly to ensure seamless data-sharing. Programs will need to be aligned correctly to maximize results. While integrations may save you money in terms of IT infrastructure and personnel, you still need to budget for the initial implementation.
There are many benefits of integrating your data, including:
1. Maintaining clean records across multiple databases
2. Streamlining data entry processes
3. Maximizing features of existing software programs and tools
When you are preparing your marketing budget for 2015, evaluating your previous successes, identifying your realistic goals and including opportunities to work smarter will help your budget request be realistic, achievable and more likely to be funded!
Get the latest SaaS, data and MarTech news & tips straight to your inbox