Odds are, you understand the importance of putting together a marketing budget for your practice. It’s also not a stretch to assume this isn’t your favorite task in the world. It’s hard and time-consuming work, and even the most experienced marketing professionals often end up relying on guesswork when coming up with next year’s budget. Many fail to realize one important fact: you can’t come up with a budget unless you have an accompanying marketing plan. That is your key to success.
The Importance of a Marketing Plan
Without a written plan, a marketing budget is nothing more than a bunch of numbers with no clear-cut way to achieve them. Statistics show that up to 85 percent of small- to medium-sized companies operate in this fashion – they’ve got a budget but no plan. This is a backwards approach; it forces you to figure out how to spend the money you have budgeted, when you should instead focus on developing goals and strategies first, and then figuring out how much money to devote to them.
You may dread the task of coming up with a marketing plan, but understanding the components vital to a good plan helps make the process easier.
What to Include in Your Marketing Plan
A well thought out marketing plan requires you to carefully consider both your goals for the next year, and the best strategies for achieving their success. The typical marketing plan will include the following sections:
- Financial goals
- Brand strategy (pricing and distribution)
- Products and services
- Sales plan
- Marketing campaigns (traditional and digital)
Note the order. Your budget comes last, because it is dependent upon your strategy! Take marketing campaigns, for instance. You have many options nowadays; traditional campaigns include direct mail, telemarketing, press releases, and special events, while digital campaigns encompass SEO, SEM, social media, email blasts, and online advertising. Each of these costs money, so determining what you want to do first is crucial in determining how much money you’ll need to set aside.
Marketing budget planning can be stressful, but the rewards are well worth the time and effort you put into it. And it’s the perfect opportunity to take a look at the future of your organization, develop new ideas, and motivate your team. Even a simple marketing plan will provide you with the framework for achieving your goals.