Business leaders work hard to strike the balance between all of the day-to-day functions necessary to keep things running smoothly. From customer service to financials, marketing and communications functions can often get lost in the shuffle. Amidst the chaos of everyday business practices, it is important to have a marketing professional on your team who can help you look beyond today and plan for tomorrow, next month and next year.

It’s no secret that when push comes to shove and budgets get tight, marketing dollars are often reallocated to other areas. Setting aside time to create an annual marketing plan and budget can set you up for success long-term and ensure communications strategies are executed within a desired timeline and within the predefined cost parameters. In fact, planning ahead and creating a detailed marketing budget is a vital process in setting up your organization for success – and your team will surely thank you for taking the time to analyze all available opportunities.

Follow these tips to ensure that your annual marketing budget will set up your organization for success.

1. Do Your Research

To avoid falling into the habit of simply re-implementing your previous budget, take time to do some research. Look through all your passed expenses and analyze them. For example, if your organization participates in conferences and trade shows, take time to review the smaller details, such as the dates of those conferences, the costs to exhibit and the benefits of participating. If you are considering advertising opportunities, review the costs of each option and compare that with the potential return on your investment. The costs and benefits of various opportunities change from year to year, so it is vital to do your research each year to ensure you are still making the best, most informed decisions for your business.

Bonus tip:  Be flexible. It is okay to swap out an opportunity mid-year if new information has been presented. Don’t set your budget in stone, missing valuable opportunities because you’re afraid to be flexible and make small (or big) changes.

2. Understand Your Budget Parameters

After you have thoroughly researched all the available marketing opportunities for your business, work with your management team to determine what type of budget you have available. Having these numbers upfront will help you mold and prioritize your budget to meet the needs and constraints of your company.

3. Make Decisions Based on Annual Goals & Objectives

As you mold and prioritize your budget, it is important to reflect on the strategic goals and objectives of your organization for the year. Having these goals in mind will help you determine where marketing dollars are best spent to help your company reach them. For instance, just because you have always participated in a certain trade show or have always advertised in a specific publication does not mean that those marketing activities make the most sense for your current goals and objectives. Reevaluation is key for amplifying your return on investment.

4. Think Ahead

Thinking beyond the current state of your business and planning ahead for change can be a massive benefit to your company. For example, maybe you have an exhibit display that is old and outdated. And maybe you’re also scheduled to go through a re-branding process during the budget year. Well, consider making additional dollars available for updating the display after re-branding efforts have concluded.

Alternatively, perhaps you work on a different budget cycle than the organizations you partner with. Planning for potential rate increases can ensure you will still be able to participate in marketing and communications activities with those organizations during your next budget cycle. You should always leave a bit of cushion in your budget to compensate for this potential scenario.

5. Make Sure Your Entire Team Agrees

Once you have worked through all of these details and have made tough decisions about where your marketing dollars should be spent for the year, take time to sit down with your team. Discussing the budget terms with your team will ensure that you are all on the same page regarding how dollars should be spent. It also provides time for you to pitch your plan and provide details pertaining to your research and how you determined the final budget plan. Lastly, it allows your teammates the opportunity to share their perspectives and to help identify any possible holes in the budget. Making sure everyone is on the same page from the start of the budget cycle will ensure that there are no issues as you start your new budget year.

6. Get an Expert Opinion

If you follow these steps, you can have confidence that you’ve created a strategic budget to suit all of the needs for your organization. However, finding the time to sit down and do it all is a whole different story; many business leaders find they simply don’t have the time to spare, therefore they stick to the status-quo. This is where hiring an outside agency can be extremely beneficial.

At Enterprise Iowa, going beyond the creative realm of marketing is our specialty. We are truly strategic thinkers with the ability to analyze all angles and objectives of your organization to provide a clear strategy for reaching them. Our team can look through each item in your current budget, research and identify new opportunities, and put together a plan to take your business to the next level. Contact us to learn more about creating and implementing a budget for your company or project.