For the majority of businesses, Q1 of 2017 will be the time to focus on budget allocations for the next financial year.
PR and digital marketing budgets should form a natural part of this thinking, and if they haven’t up until now, perhaps now’s the time to find room for it in your next budget plan.
Importance of a marketing budget
It’s often the first area to be sliced when times get tough; and it’s usually the one that gets the most grief from stakeholders, even when the going is good (why should their end of year bonus be cut to pay for all that frilly marketing nonsense?).
However, take it away and unless you have a miracle product or service that simply sells itself, then stand by and watch your competition happily mop up your business and your future.
How to set a budget for marketing in 2017/18
If this is a new departure for you, or you want to refresh the approach you take, some of these ideas might be useful to you:
1. If you had a budget last year review what areas of spend performed the best and gave you the best return (if you didn’t have any forms of measurement in place to track this then perhaps that needs to be your number one priority for the coming year – otherwise, what’s it all for if you can’t measure it? One simple way to measure return on investment is by using website metrics, as Laura’s blog explains). In here, remember to measure time too, not just spend – hours can easily be a drain on staff time and so start to become expensive to the business.
2. Next, set out your business objectives for the next 12 months. Is there a clear strategy on what you want to achieve with some clear targets in place? If so, look at how your PR and marketing should best support this. Is it a consistent drip of activity to keep in front of your audience or are there one or two ad hoc initiatives which should give you the necessary results (perhaps that exhibition where you know you will be able to engage with the majority of your key customers – it may be expensive but as a one-off it will be worth it).
3. Revisit your digital presence. Every year – every week come to that – the digital world shifts slightly and it is too easy to become out of date online. Google listings and reviews, SEO practices and social media advertising are just a handful of areas you really need to be giving some serious attention in 2017.
4. Set a budget – so, how much should be set aside? Opinions differ but between 5-10% of your annual turnover (gross) is considered to be along the right lines. If you have a smaller turnover or are a start-up you may need to budget a little higher in the early years. According to a survey by Gartner, the average spend in 2014 was 10.2% with 50% of the companies surveyed expecting to increase this in 2015 onwards. Also, factor in that a consistent delivery of activity will bring in better results than short, sharp bursts. Think long-term results rather than a quick win. A constant drip of fresh enquiries and new business leads is better than a few quick wins. This activity is supporting your brand and building a perception which wants to grow from strength to strength – it deserves some proper financial support.
5. Don’t take your eye off it – setting up a fully-costed PR and marketing plan is only going to be effective if it is closely managed and the results scrutinised and measured. Repeat or develop the best performances and learn and revise those that don’t work quite as well. Your audience is ever changing, as is the world they operate in, so your marketing has to do the same.
If this sounds far too daunting, or you think a fresh pair of eyes might help get your 2017/18 PR and marketing plan on track, get in touch, we will be delighted to help.