The Most Overlooked Part of Your Marketing Budget

Jen Dodson
Chief Creative Officer

The new year means new budgets. As we’re gearing up on different client budgets, we noticed an alarming trend: Very little changed. Things added 15 years ago made the cut. Areas getting more funds aren’t getting a better plan (*cough*digital*cough*). Worst of all, most are leaving out the two most important audiences: current customers and staff. Does your marketing budget account for these audiences?

We know it is cheaper to retain current customers than it is to get new ones. We know that loyal clients become brand advocates who sell for you. So why isn’t spending at least a portion of your marketing budget on building client loyalty something we do?

Know something else that helps with client loyalty? It’s engaged employees. All statistics support this, yet many employers leave their employees in the dark on company progress. They fail to make sure staff can speak to what the company does or why customers purchase from the company.

How are marketing budgets determined?

No two marketing budgets are the same. Most seem based on an arbitrary number that’s evolved over the years. Special accounts exist or are created for big purchases (new website, rebrand, etc.).  If that’s where you start, the budgeting process becomes a process of breaking down where money was spent based on what was spent the year before.

Even better, usually accounting departments have different ways of breaking down the budget that don’t correspond to marketing terms. One client had marketing expenses in five different accounting budgets. And that’s not the worst of it.

Remember time is a resource worth more than money.

Marketing budgets often focus on the dollars spent in areas. If you factor in your team’s time, the marketing budget gets bigger. Sure –  the marketing department’s staff might be recorded, but what about the subject matter experts who help write copy? Or the time executives spend getting updates and discussing strategy? A marketing meeting with six people is a six-hour investment multiplied by everyone’s hourly rate. A good budget looks at both the finances and staff time dedicated to marketing.  Then figure out how to optimize everyone’s time for the best results.

Is it time for a marketing budget audit?

Give yourself a fresh start and really think about your audience. How are all the different groups segmented and prioritized? Where do they spend their time? How do they engage with content? Make sure someone really looks at what is working and what’s not. If it’s extensive get a team involved. Ask the sales team what they use and what they don’t. Ask customer service teams for their input on what would make their jobs easier. Once you collect all the feedback, get together to rebuild your budget from the ground up. Focus on what works. Eliminate what doesn’t.

Give yourself permission, but don’t overthink it.

You need to accept that some part of your budget won’t work as well as others. At the same time, don’t underestimate aspects of your marketing that contribute to brand engagement without a direct line to sales. Not everything can provide a linear return on investment. Give yourself permission to accept good enough while you keep striving for better. Otherwise you’ll be paralyzed searching for perfect.

Finding budget for new marketing initiatives.

Hopefully in thinking through your budget and time, you’ve found opportunities to dedicate resources towards current customer and employee marketing. We’ll keep posting tips on this topic to help you and are always up for a coffee or happy hour to discuss.

Want help with your marketing budget?

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About Adashmore Creative

We built our business and reputation on helping brands bridge the gap between who you want to be, where you are, and your audience’s perceptions. Our focus is outsourced marketing strategy for relationship-based B2B businesses, including professional services, manufacturing, and trade associations.