Are You Making the Most of Your Marketing Budget?

We’ve got a question for you. Do you know how you spent your marketing budget last year?

What about the year before? The year before that?

The truth is that every year, your approach to your marketing budget—and how you use your budget to meet your organizational goals—changes. It can change for a lot of reasons, from campaign failures to new product launches and changing your printing vendor to hiring an in-house video producer.

Each and every year, the reality of your company will change, and with those changes come dozens if not hundreds of other adjustments to your budget.

Unfortunately, with all those changes, it can be challenging to ensure you’re making the most out of your annual, quarterly, or monthly marketing budget! It’s a “forest for the trees” situation. You can gain a lot of perspective from a greater distance; however, as a busy marketing director, you rarely will have the opportunity to get that distance.

So how can you be sure that you’re actually getting the most out of every marketing dollar? After all, you’ve likely fought—painstakingly so—for every penny in your operating budget.

Well, we’re here to help. We know you’ve worked hard to justify your budget and the importance of a robust marketing presence, so we’re going to provide some tips to ensure you get as much value from your budget as you deserve.

With that in mind, here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to your marketing budget and how to spot areas to save.

Give Yourself Freedom to Realign

As you know, working out an effective marketing strategy for your year can be quite a challenge. You have to balance your marketing budget while determining which channels and messaging will be most effective.

Given how much you and your team have put into justifying your marketing budget, it can be very tempting to marry yourself to an idea. However, being inflexible and unwilling to pivot is more likely to prevent you from making the most out of your marketing budget in the long run.

While all campaigns take weeks or months of preparation and approvals, leaving yourself without the freedom to change your marketing plan may leave you unable to capitalize on trends in your industry or marketing landscape. If you discover a new marketing channel your research suggests might be a more effective spend than one of your current plans, you should be able to realign. Your budget will thank you, and so will your ROI.

Highlight Your Successes but Don’t Hide Your Failures

When recapping your previous years or communicating with your CEO, it can be tempting to focus exclusively on the positives. You may tend to lean heavily on the paid ad campaign that blew away your own expectations, or highlight the banner email campaign you ran.

But there are drawbacks to this strategy. Not only does it prevent you from really engaging with your mistakes, but it also doesn’t present your owner or CEO with the realities of marketing—and may set them up for greater disappointment in the future.

You definitely want to review your losses just as closely as you review your wins, and you shouldn’t feel entirely too terrified to communicate with your CEO when things haven’t gone to plan. Of course, you have to set their expectations, but you won’t really be doing that if you gloss over the direct mail campaign that underperformed. Owning—then addressing—your failures gives you a distinct advantage and more experience to reach success in the future.

Budget Doesn’t Define Value, Creativity Does

We don’t have to tell you that every dollar in your budget can be stretched just as readily as it can be wasted. However, for some reason, many marketing directors tend to assume their outcomes are pre-determined based on the budget they can negotiate from their company.

Just like some printers offer you more value for less money, your budget doesn’t determine your marketing outcomes for the year. Your creativity and dedication to your message are what will make the difference, not an extra thousand dollars.

Of course, there are some natural limitations to what you can accomplish and how many eyes you can reach. For a printed mailer, a five thousand dollar difference will limit the number of people you can reach. But it is the talent of your team, your willingness to think outside the box, and your ability to connect with the consumer that could turn a smaller campaign into one that packs twice as much punch.

Your Budget Is What You Make of It

We don’t want to repeat ourselves too much here, but we think it’s important to end on this note. A big part of maximizing your budget is realigning how you think about your budget, your wins and losses, and your flexibility.

Of course, your budget gives you a certain amount of leeway, but the true limit to your success hides in the dozens of other factors that you can support in your team and your work. With that mindset, the dollar amount won’t matter—because you’ll determine your own limits.

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