“Setting marketing budgets is easy!” -No marketing professional ever. In fact, you’ve most likely learned it’s the exact opposite. There are many factors to consider, and they may change from year to year depending on the strategic initiatives of your organization. Are there new markets that your company is trying to target? Are there new products that you will introduce? Is there a new focus on your customer experiences, or forging new partnerships? How will the education market evolve? All these questions must be considered when planning your spend for the coming year. So, where do we start?
Identify your goals to have a healthy margin and budget
“Start with the end in mind” is a useful marketing adage, especially when it comes to budgeting, and maintaining a profit margin. Include testing related to new trends in your budget, along with measurement tools to ensure sufficient resources to sustain your ongoing efforts.
Align your marketing goals and your business goals
While your goals may differ from a tactical standpoint, your entire organization is working toward the same strategic goals. Embracing these common aspirations in your budget will help with reporting campaign success in the long run.
Goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attain-able, Realistic and Timely). For example, if it’s your job to generate 50 percent of your sales pipeline, calculate how many opportunities that is, how many leads you’ll need to generate and how many visitors you need on your site. Working backwards from the goal should give you a solid idea of where you need to start.
Strike a balance between urgency and giving your initiatives time
Even in our fast-paced, immediate-results world, effective marketing campaigns still take time to develop and execute. Be sure your goals are time-specific and actionable, and remember that for every goal, a comprehensive strategy will get you there.
Evaluate the past to formulate your future
Remember that old advice about leaving the past in the past? When it comes to budgeting for your upcoming marketing needs, we recommend a different approach. When taking a hard look at your budget for the education market over the past two years, ROI metrics and KPIs from prior initiatives become extremely important.
If you’re able to see how well a particular program or channel performed relative to your investment, it will be easier to make educated decisions on whether you should increase your spend, continue at your current pace, or reallocate the resources to another campaign.
Include resource costs and testing in your equation
When you evaluate new initiatives or increased spending for a historically successful program, it’s important to consider all of the possible costs. Do you want to double the number of videos you have in your content library? Then consider staff availability and expertise, as well as any tools necessary to create a video from start to finish.
Similarly, allocate resources to test your top-performing channels and identify new ways to leverage your efforts. We recommend allocating a 5 to 20 percent contingency budget to test, analyze and retest new channels and strategies.
How to ask for more money
Asking your CMO or leadership team for additional funds might seem daunting, but it will be less challenging if you prepare ahead of time:
- Know the facts: If your budget is small to begin with, or if your competitors have launched an aggressive campaign and you need to increase market awareness, presenting the facts and the current landscape will help set the stage for your ask.
- Create clear success metrics: When you receive additional funds, how will these resources be put to work for your organization, and what business results will ensue?
- Present the proposal confidently: You’ve done the research and developed your strategy. Stand behind your work and demonstrate your expertise to leadership.
- Be okay with a “light” version: Budget decisions are based on many business factors. If the proposed budget is less than you hoped for, devise a leaner game plan to rally around.
- Add an incentive goal: If you exceed your goals, propose an automatic bonus allocation.
In order to stay on top of the education market in 2019, planning your budget in line with your goals is key. Putting these tips into action won’t take all the pain out of setting a marketing budget, but they will help. To learn all you need to know about planning for 2019, check out our comprehensive eBook here. Stay tuned for our next post regarding relevant trends and tools!