The Lean Marketer Blog

5 Things to Check Before Submitting Your Marketing Budget

budget 6921950309_f6b14c899b_oI am republishing this post that originally went out last year around this time, since I’ll be leading a new budgeting workshop next week.

It’s budgeting season again…Large companies may have already submitted their budget requests, but many of the smaller ones are just getting organized.

In the age of lean everything, it can be difficult to predict what you will need in your marketing budget for the coming year, but try to think big, think flexible and plan accordingly.

I will be leading a workshop for the MC Forum on September 9 entitled “Planning Your 2015 Marketing Budget,” so whether you are just getting started on this process, or even if you’re smack in the middle and want to make sure you don’t miss anything, please register for the session.

It is crucial that your marketing budget align with your company targets, and the only way to ensure that is to do a lot of homework before you simply put numbers on paper. This homework includes:

Gather internal inputs – identify internal company resources (e.g. sales, R&D, executives etc.) that you need to meet with to gather inputs, wishlists, feedback on previous activities, etc. Come prepared with a set of questions you need answers to in order to build a proper plan for next year.

Gather external inputs – this involves getting feedback from customers, partners and industry experts about how they would like to interact with your company and where the market is going.

Analyze this past year’s expenditures and their ROI –  What worked? What didn’t work? What could be improved? What fat can you trim in order to invest more in the things that are working?

Create your wish list – go a little crazy. Think of the nutso-est things you might want to do next year. Don’t forget the basics, of course!

Talk to vendors. Vendors know that when you are building a budget you are gathering information but are not necessarily willing to make a commitment. The more you approach your suppliers as partners throughout the year, the more they will be willing and able to  help you through this process when it comes to long-term planning. Your suppliers can be invaluable sources of information and ideas for you.  And of course, if you are willing to make a substantial commitment before the end of the year on next year’s purchases, you may be able to lock in valuable discounts.

An important point is to leave yourself some flexibility in your budget. You probably won’t know today about a campaign you want to run in Q4 next year. So make sure to set aside some funds for “unexpected” – I recommend adding around 10% to the overall budget for this.

In parallel, find out your company’s policy on moving money from one budget line to another. Can you do it indefinitely? Only within certain areas? Only within the given quarter? This is important to know up front while you are building your budget so you can be careful how you allocate your funds request.

Want to discuss this further with your marketing peers and me? I’d love to see you at the MC Forum budgeting workshop on September 9.

BTW we’ll be sharing some preliminary results from our B2B marketing budget benchmarking survey…we’ve extended our data collection period, so if you still haven’t filled it out, please share your budgets (anonymously, of course!). You can access the survey to fill out here.

image credit: Flickr user backdoorsurvival

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