3 steps to make your marketing budget work

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It’s that time of the year when everyone is thinking about their marketing and PR budget and how to get the most bang for their buck.

Madeleine Wilson

In a perfect world, we would have endless budget available to throw at all sorts of exciting and experimental marketing and PR initiatives. In reality we all need to drive conversions and achieve business results.

So how can you approach your budget and make it work even harder for you, your team and your agencies?
When it comes to budgets, the key starting point is that a budget needs to be fair and reasonable to allow for sufficient resources and enough head hours to produce quality work – whatever that might be.

When working with agencies, agreeing the numbers up front is essential in managing expectations. This helps to ensure that both parties are on the same page and that compromises aren’t made later down the track. At a minimum, we find that the below tips are useful in setting a budget for marketing, content, PR and more. 

1. Don’t be afraid of the numbers. Make them your friend and manage expectations

Budgets are a reality of any business transaction. Approach budget discussions with a clear and firm position on what you are willing to spend and what you won’t compromise on. Going in with a number means that you can manage expectations from the outset, and everyone knows where they stand.

2. What do you need your budget to achieve?

Do not rush a budget. Allow yourself enough time to review it and make changes. It is worth creating several drafts and revisiting the build a few times to ensure nothing has been missed. Then, consider what your budget is realistically going to be able to achieve. Do you have a grasp on current industry rates? This could be a good time to reach out to your network and gather some more information. After this exercise, you might find that your Champagne campaign is not going to be possible on a Passion Pop budget. That’s the time to readjust your expectations and get creative. 

Be prepared for agency partners to question your budget to get a better understanding of why it has been set and what you need to achieve. Remember that they want to create quality work that makes you shine so they need to be confident that your budget will be able to support their creative work and execution.

3. Contingency is key

Although a budget should be set, agreed on and worked to as a rule not a guide, there are often unforeseen circumstances that will need to be accounted for. Cyclones can wreak havoc for a beachside video shoot; a terrorist incident can mean articles on a particular destination need to be pulled at the last minute, or an industry-wide regulatory change may mean an eDM content campaign needs to be urgently reviewed and updated. This is why it is critical that budgets have a contingency of at least 10%. However, this figure is just that – a contingency. It should only be considered after all other possible approaches have been explored to make the existing numbers work. This contingency amount should always be discussed between clients and agencies as soon as the need for it arises so that all parties can agree to the best way forward.

Madeleine Wilson, director, tide.pr

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