Q: I’ve set my marketing budget. Now how do I spend it wisely?

Okay, you’re using the 8% rule to determine your marketing budget. First hurdle jumped. Now, even more critical is how you spend it.

First things first, you need an overall goal. What are you trying to achieve? Sales conversions from your website? Increase in foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar location?

In order to craft a marketing plan, you need to know what results you want. Be sure to create goals that are reasonable for your business based on your past experience or your industry norms. Now that you know what you want, you need a plan to get there.

Start with your marketing message. What is your business brand image? The most effective brands concentrate on their point of differentiation from their competition. What makes you unique in your space? This image should be consistent across all your marketing materials and strategies.

Now define your target customer. This traditionally has been a demographic model – such as adults 25 -54 who have a combined household income of $75k and above – but it transitioning to a psychographic model. Age and income is still important but now you must take into account how your target consumers think about themselves. How do they define who they are? Are they executives (current or aspirational) who have an adventurous streak? Hipsters with a penchant for vintage? Moms who want to stay fashionable?

Geography will also play a factor. Do you have a brick-and-mortar location? The majority of your customers probably come from a 10 mile radius. If you’re in the 5 boroughs of New York City, that might be even smaller.

Also think about the media that your target consumers use. Knowing how they consume media will help you determine where to most effectively market your business.

Here come the nuts and bolts, where to place your marketing dollars.

You have a potentially paralyzing number of choices. But, have no fear. Combine your overall goal with what you know about your target consumer (who they are, where they are and what media they consume) you can limit your list of marketing methods.

  • Your own website design and function
  • Promotions and Sales
  • Traditional media (Television, Radio and Print)
  • Digital media
  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • PR
  • Marketing Materials
  • Direct Mail

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Keep in mind that integrating a campaign consistently across multiple media channels with overlapping audience bases often has a “halo effect”, boosting performance and the efficiency of your marketing spend.
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Next breakdown where you will use each marketing method.  Determine the frequency (monthly, weekly, etc), the time period and the cost. Production time and expenses are often “hidden” costs. Make sure to factor those in as well.

Finally, measure, measure, measure. You’re marketing is not set it and forget it. You need to measure how each marketing channel is delivering against those goals we set in the beginning. Remember those? You’ll probably see that one or two or several channels are working better towards your goals. Don’t be afraid to shift dollars!

Remember, your marketing plan is typically for a 12 month period. This allows you to plan and forecast costs vs projected revenue. A quarterly check against your goals is recommended at minimum! I would also recommend reserving a small percentage of your budget for opportunistic campaigns or partnerships. A year is a long time! Opportunities can knock at any time and you’ll need dollars to answer them!