Marketing Budget 101: Begin With Goals

There are a few tasks that, no matter how many times you do them, they’re still daunting. Box jumps for one. Cooking chicken without drying it out for another. 

And pulling together an annual marketing budget. After nearly two decades in the marketing industry, I still have to mentally prepare for budgeting tasks. I’m relieved once it’s done, but hidden among dollar amounts for digital media, print materials, events, and every other thing required to keep your business active in the marketplace is a much bigger set of priorities and goals. What if you miss something? What if you don’t allocate enough? Or what if you don’t get the ROI you hoped for? 

Suddenly box jumps don’t look so hard.  

To jumpstart my budgeting — and now yours — I use this checklist. It’s possible you already do all of these things, but I hope that having them here together is just what you need to make budgeting easier. 

Before You Budget Checklist

  • Narrow your audience

    The best news in marketing is that everyone is not your customer. Your customers have specific needs, habits, and beliefs, and you should be using that information to target your messages. Getting specific ensures that your marketing dollars are aimed at the people most likely to respond and that your creative fits that audience. Creative that fits your audience will gain traction faster as it feels relatable and familiar to your people.

  • Set goals

    Establish goals and keep them at the forefront. Keep them simple, measurable, and as few in number as possible so that you can easily evaluate which tactics are meeting your goals and which are falling short. Be sure to scrutinize your goals annually to ensure they’re still the right ones.

  • Manage expectations

    Your budget is finite. Expecting too much of it only leads to failure. Being honest about what your budget can and cannot achieve is a great way to clarify your goals and gives you the best chance for success.

  • Budget sponsorships elsewhere

    Putting your business’ name on baseball jerseys is a nice nod to community spirit and is great awareness of your brand. However, sponsorships are better covered by your company’s charitable giving budget.

  • Build a cushion

    Don’t overlook the dollars it takes for production. That digital ad may cost $1,000 to run, but you’ll also need to pay for design, writing, and set-up. And, as wise as planning an annual budget is, unexpected opportunities may arise. Leave some cushion for the ones you can’t afford to miss.

  • Don’t skip ahead

    Marketing is a tiered approach. Tier One is brand awareness. In Tier Two you promote specific products and benefits, and in Tier Three comes price point messaging. Your marketing budget should always be a mix of the three; however, if you’re just starting out, allocate heaviest for brand awareness — no one’s coming in the door if they don’t know who you are. It’s tempting to cut brand awareness because it can be expensive and difficult to measure, but it’s important to spend the money to build and maintain that base before you focus on the other tiers.

At MJM, we work with a variety of budgets and needs so we agree with you — setting an annual budget isn’t easy! However, it is worth it, and you’ll be glad you put in the work.