20 October 2017

7 questions to ask before you set your 2018 marketing budget

Richard Hancock
Written by Richard Hancock

Richard Hancock is Regional Director for The Marketing Centre and specialises in working with small and mid-size businesses. He has over 30 years experience working across the FMCG, Digital Entertainment, Technology & Telecoms industries, both in the UK & overseas.

If you haven’t started budgeting for 2018, what are you waiting for?

Three months might seem like enough time to make arrangements for the New Year. But take two weeks to lay plans, two weeks to get feedback from your team, and two weeks for Christmas, and your time is cut in half. Right in the middle of most businesses’ busiest quarter.

Don’t get caught out.

Planning your marketing spend is an essential part of your business budget: the golden key to sustainable growth in the New Year. So what do you need in place to build yours?

1. Do you have a marketing plan?

Without a marketing plan, it’s impossible to allocate a marketing budget. Your plan should include a landscape view of your market, landmarks for the journey, and clear directions to make sure the document is readable and workable by anyone in your business. Be flexible, however, to adapt to future market or business challenges.

To get started, read our guide: Marketing Theory for Non-Marketers – Marketing Planning.

2. Are you measuring the right things?

If a marketing consultant sells you likes, retweets and sessions on your site as signs of their success, be wary.

While these are reasonable indicators that visitors like your marketing communications, cost per acquisition and marketing as a percentage of sales are the two marketing metrics every business should focus on.

3. Do you have a way of monitoring and reporting success?

The moving parts of marketing are complex and full of detail, but it helps to have a top-line view on what activity is moving the needle regarding lead generation and customer acquisition. A marketing dashboard can be as detailed or as simple as you need it to be. But you do need one.

Here’s what you need to consider when building a marketing dashboard.

4. Do you understand the ROI of your marketing efforts over the last 12 months?

Without a granular understanding of the return on your investments from last year, then you don’t have a baseline with which to measure your success in 2018. With marketing, ROI isn’t quite as simple as marketing = bottom line, because each part of your marketing mix necessarily adds value in other parts of your business.

For a detailed look at marketing ROI, read our in-depth article.

5. Do you have the requisite tools for marketing success?

Marketing strategy always comes before marketing tools, but when it comes to marketing heavy-lifting, there are some essentials that it would be difficult to get by without.

We think there are seven of these essential tools.

6. Have you set aside budget for legislative changes?

Two of the biggest data regulation changes are coming into force next May - The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). These cover both the handling and management of your data and the way you can use it. Although there are still some grey areas, one thing’s for sure: you’ll need a better handle on your data than ever before.

We spoke to the experts in IT, legal and marketing to get the lowdown. Read that interview here.

7. Have you got the right marketing person to make the most of your budget?

Calling yourself a marketing consultant is easy. Being an effective marketing consultant is not. The trouble is, there are a lot of marketers out there who promise the earth but don’t deliver. Luckily, we’ve got plenty of advice on avoiding the snake oil salespeople and finding the right fit for your business.

Start with our 5 BIG questions to avoid a marketing charlatan.

Building an effective marketing budget needn’t be difficult. But not building one costs businesses time, money and effort when decisions are left to the last moment. Don’t delay.

Find out how your current marketing efforts stack up and identify the weak links in your sales activity via our free Marketing 360 Healthcheck. Click here to get started.

View case studies from The Marketing Centre

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To make smarter decisions and make the most of their investment.

So if you’re tired of switching from one thing to the next hoping one will stick, maybe it’s time to try a different approach.