Everyday guidelines for creating a marketing budget

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Being that we're fresh into 2017, our team has noticed a trend in the number of our clients looking to expand upon their marketing efforts - in small ways like allocating a stronger budget, or in larger ways like engaging into a corporate sponsor partnership with other organizations. Whether your organization is a multinational corporation, or startup with a staff of 5, we understand the importance of creating a targeted and flexible marketing plan.

As organizations grow and new entrants to the market appear, companies must continuously stay relevant in consumers' minds. To remain a player in the market in which a company operates, allocating capital to spend on a marketing campaign is a necessary and important aspect of strategic business planning. Not every business spends the same amount of funds to create and implement marketing initiatives, but the process is similar regardless of an organization's size, industry, audience or marketing message.

First off, your budget spent should be dictated by what you hope to achieve, and also by what you can realistically afford. Here are a few levels of spending that you can use as guidelines:

  1. Less than $1,000 per month - New, bootstrapped startups usually have little to spend on marketing, so creativity utilizing the time spent on marketing will be important. Early on, acquiring customers will be the top priority, and your startup may be looking at spending 20-25% of its time on marketing. It’s a good idea to test out different ideas to see what works before structuring your budget. Analyze the results, and then use that to budget for the following months.
  2. $1,000 - $5,000 per month - This range allows you to create a more comprehensive strategy. Once you have a logo and brand that you are proud of, a strong web presence is the next essential. This begins with your company website, which is usually the first impression that your customers have of your company. The design should be user-friendly and responsive, so that it looks great on computer screens, smartphones, and other web browsers.
  3. Over $5,000 per month - Once you are spending over $5,000, you can make the decision to hire an in-house marketer or a marketing agency. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option. If your team grows quickly, and you have 50 or so dedicated salespeople, you may want to look into hiring a full-time senior marketing professional. Many companies still hire an outside agency to support their sales and marketing efforts to get a deeper bench. The most significant benefit of hiring an agency is that you get a team of combined specialists from designers, developers, and marketing strategists all in one as opposed to hiring one marketing professional with a more general skill set. 

Keep in mind that your marketing budget should not be a fixed and permanent number. Your marketing budget should be scalable. It should grow in tandem with your business. As you start to see a real financial return on your marketing efforts, you can slowly increase the budget.

Important factors to keep in mind:

  1. Know your goal. Before you can get anywhere, you have to know where you're going. Are you trying to generate more leads? Close more sales? Create more awareness of your brand? Once everyone is on the same page about what defines ultimate success you can get down to business.
  2. Be proactive, not reactive. Somewhere along the way, clients will come to you needing something at the spur of the moment—a certain number of leads by the end of the month, for example. While your first reaction may be to scramble, part of a strategic budget is keeping the long view in perspective.
  3. Measure everything. If you don't know which of your efforts are leading to success or failure, you can't plan effectively. Where are your clients hearing about you? How do they know about you?
  4. Strategize. Thinking ahead is key to structuring a budget that can serve you in the long term. Too many people are hasty in their planning, and while it saves time now, it could cost them later.
  5. Build on your successes. Don't give in to repetition or stagnation. Quantify what you did last year that worked and build on it. Don't simply rehash what you've done before without considering how your business has grown and changed.

There are countless platforms and channels and guerrilla marketing techniques that you can try! There is certainly no cookie cutter formula for how you should be spending marketing dollars. Just remember to have fun and get creative (while staying within budget, of course!).