It’s budget season! If you run a business, you know the month of October isn’t all “pumpkin spice lattes and crisp autumn air.” In fact, budget season can be one of the most stressful times of year for a business. To help ease this critical yet challenging time, utilize these guiding tips and download our free budget planning templates to set yourself up early for a record-breaking, successful 2015!
Identify Your Marketing Goals, Including Target Audiences, First!
Identifying your 2015 marketing goals is the very first thing you should do when planning your 2015 marketing budget. Part of your goal identification process should include identifying your target audiences. This is because you also need to allocate your budget to the mediums that will best reach your target audiences.
Match Goals with Appropriate Marketing Channels
Once you have identified your goals, you can then determine which marketing channels and tactics will be most important for reaching those goals. Prioritize your goals and then determine what channels will best help you reach each goal. Allocate the most money to channels that will help you reach your most important goals. Allocate less money to channels that are less influential for your goals.
Here’s an example of how this concept works. Vacation rental industry veterans are probably aware that women play the largest role in making vacation plans. So, if you are a vacation rental company who wants to target families, you would want to think about the best places to reach mothers who have a vacation budget. One of the best places to reach that demographic is on Pinterest. Over 68% of Pinterest users are women, most between the ages of 25 and 54, with a relatively high income level. Since Pinterest is very important for reaching this target audience, a vacation rental company would want to spend a good amount on utilizing Pinterest to drive website traffic and qualified Internet leads. But what does effectively utilizing Pinterest require? It requires creating awesome content like blog posts and images, and it requires time and expertise from someone who knows how to implement Pinterest for lead generation. Be sure to get this detailed when considering how to allocate your budget.
Here’s another example. If you are a home builder with a 55+ community to market, email marketing would be more important than social media marketing. That doesn’t mean social media isn’t important for a 55+ audience. It just means email is utilized more often than social media by that demographic, so you would want to allocate your budget accordingly. In other words, you would want to allocate more money to email marketing than social media marketing to reach a 55+ audience.
Establish a Figure for Total Marketing Spend
This is one of the most challenging parts of budgeting because there are no hard and fast rules. Inc.com reports that most companies spend anywhere from 1 to 10 percent of their sales on marketing. That’s a wide range, and it’s not a hard and fast rule. The figure you decide upon will depend on several things, including your goals, your industry, how established your business currently is, and how much you can actually afford. If few people know your name, you probably need to spend a higher percentage on marketing than you would if you were the top-recognized brand in your industry or location.
Be Sure to Allocate for Content Creation
Are you planning to spend marketing dollars on social media, search engine optimization and website improvements? If so, be prepared to also spend money on content creation. Truly effective social media, SEO and website improvements rely heavily on producing great content and implementing content marketing strategies. For example, it’s very difficult for a real estate company to turn a Facebook follower into a home buyer without providing content that will either drive them from Facebook to the company’s website or drive them to pick up a phone and call. However, if you post a helpful blog post on Facebook that provides valuable home buying tips, Facebook fans will click on it, visit the company website, and realize that the company is an industry authority. Now they have a reason to be interested in the real estate company’s services. They are more likely to browse the website further and perhaps fill out a contact form or call the company – making them a tangible lead. In addition to driving website traffic from social media, content is extremely important for improving your search engine exposure. When your audience does online research during the buying process, your website’s great content (such as blog posts and eBooks) can appear in their search engine results, thereby increasing your search engine exposure.
Need to Conserve? Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater
Here’s one very important thing to keep in mind. When sales are down and companies need to conserve expenses, marketing is very often the first thing to be chopped. However, this is an emotional, stress-induced reaction. If you slash your marketing budget when sales are down, how can you expect to get sales back up? A more logical approach would be to keep your marketing budget in place and evaluate how you can make your marketing dollars produce greater ROI. For example, if sales are down and your email marketing efforts don’t seem to be working, your first instinct should not be to cut email marketing to save money. Your first instinct should be to evaluate what’s not working and figure out how to make it work better so your email marketing starts contributing to more sales.
In-house Marketing vs. Collaborating with an Agency
As you are establishing your 2015 marketing budget, consider whether you should keep all your marketing in-house or consult with a marketing agency that is an expert in your industry. If you currently have no in-house marketing professionals, then consulting an agency can be a great option. If you do have an in-house marketing professional or team, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I need to generate more leads and/or sales from the Internet?
- Do my in-house marketing resources have enough time and online expertise to implement internet marketing effectively?
If you have in-house marketing people but your website isn’t generating enough leads and/or sales, then your in-house marketing team may be too busy with offline marketing or they may lack experience and expertise in the unique world of online strategies. In this case, consulting an agency is also a great option. Either way, you’ll want to consider how much money to allocate towards marketing manpower as you create your 2015 budget.
Download Our Free Budget Planning Templates
Make 2015 planning easier by using Paveya’s budget planning templates! These will help you plan your marketing budget and let you compare your projected budget to what you actually end up spending. Plus, they are completely free!