Don’t look now, but the fourth quarter is quickly approaching and that means budget season for those of us on a calendar fiscal year.  This is the stretch of the year when you should be allocating time in our calendars to analyze results from the prior three quarters so we can properly prepare for 2020 and this is the focus of today’s Brand and Demand Marketing Impact Vlog.

Today’s Vlog topic is entitled: 5 Simple Steps to Create a Marketing Plan & Budget that Drives Return. As we look toward the New Year, we need strategies and a plan to acquire new customers, drive deeper returns from existing customers, sync with sales on goals, and develop new opportunities to grow our businesses.

Nicole – I love this time of the year. Living in the Boston area, we’ve got the crisp early mornings of fall. The leaves are starting to change and that’s my annual signal to carve out time for analysis, strategy and planning.  It’s an exciting, yet busy time of the year, as we work hard to close out the year strong, while building the appropriate plan and budget to make next year even more successful.

Step 1 is to analyze results and return for your efforts thus far. We all should be optimizing campaigns on a regular basis, but this is your opportunity to take a deeper dive into the analytics to evaluate true return and adjust accordingly. We’re not going to spend any energy on this step, you know what you need to do here. Our focus today is on the remaining the steps.

Many companies plan their marketing budget based on the previous year and how much they’re willing to spend on marketing. This is a great way to hold yourself back from achieving your sales goals and to waste budget on poor performing channels.

Step 2 is to Create a Marketing Strategy

Don’t make the mistake of setting your budget and then building a strategy around the budget. Before you calculate your marketing budget, align your marketing goals with your company’s strategic goals and vision for growth. If you plan to grow by 20% or launch new lines of business, that’s a strong indicator that you’ll require more budget to invest toward growth.

It’s imperative to create a marketing strategy document that your executive team, sales team, and marketing team are committed to. Everyone must set their activities in motion on the same course.

Which brings us to Step 3 – Build a Marketing Budget

Once you’ve aligned your company goals with your marketing goals, it’s time to identify your marketing budget. Solidifying your budget provides the opportunity to develop a detailed marketing plan that supports your strategy. Over the course of my career, I’ve seen three options as it relates to developing a marketing budget.

Option A is the Maintain Plan: Allocating 1 – 3% of your top-line revenue. Your organization is committed to engaging and retaining its current customers with simple tools and strategies. This option is perfect for companies that want to maintain market share and don’t have ambitious growth goals.

Option B is the Expansion Plan: Allocating 4 – 5% of your top-line revenue. Your organization strives to attract new prospects and retain current customers with advanced tools and strategies. This option is perfect for companies with goals to expand their market share and annual growth by 10 – 20%.

Option C is the High Growth Plan: Allocating 6% or more of your top-line revenue. Your organization is dedicated to accelerating results by leveraging additional resources to increase demand generation, conversions and sales. To accomplish this you’ll leverage complex marketing strategies and cutting-edge tools. This option is perfect for companies who have ambitious goals to increase their market share and annual growth by 20% or more.

Once you settle on an option, it’s time to move to step 4.

Step 4 is to Allocate Your Marketing Budget

Now that you’ve got your goals and a budget, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get into the nitty-gritty of developing a tactical plan of execution to convert your strategy into reality! The specifics of the plan are contingent on the budget you’ve identified, but consider including the following tactics in no specific order:

  • Email Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media (Organic and Paid)
  • Display and Retargeting
  • SEO and Paid Search
  • ABM
  • Lead Conversion and Nurturing
  • Earned Media/PR
  • Referral Marketing
  • Customer Experience
  • Events
  • Branding
  • Affiliate & Influencer Marketing
  • Traditional Advertising

Determine how much of your marketing budget should be allocated to each aspect of your plan. To find out how fellow marketers are allocating their budgets, I highly suggest you take our Brand & Demand B2B Marketing Executive Priority Benchmark Survey. Upon completion, you’re not only going to receive the results, but you may be contacted to see where you rank among your peers in the industry.

We’ve arrived at our fifth and final step! Step 5 is to Create & Implement a Marketing Plan.

I recently saw a stat that approximately 85% of SMB’s operate from only a budget. They have no written plan to accompany it. This explains why so many marketers are tactically focused – they’re trying to figure out how to spend budget, instead of thinking about goals and strategies.

I really like The Balance SMB definition: “A marketing plan outlines the specific actions you intend to carry out to interest potential customers and clients in your product and/or service and persuade them to buy the product and/or services you offer.”

“The marketing plan implements your marketing strategy. Or, the marketing strategy provides the goals for your marketing plans. It tells you where you want to go from here. The plan is the specific roadmap that’s going to get you there.”

This is a time-consuming process, but writing a strong plan forces you to think through your strategies and relevant tactics. A strong marketing plan typically includes:

  • Executive summary
  • Financial goals
  • Target customers
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
  • Brand strategy
  • Product pricing and positioning overview
  • Distribution plan
  • Sales plan
  • Marketing materials and campaigns
  • Detailed budget and financial projections
  • Retention strategy
  • Conversion strategy
  • Dates to review progress


Once you’ve developed the plan. Success can only be achieved by implementing the plan with a qualified team of marketers, designers, and technical experts.

I couldn’t agree more Adam and that’s where Brand and Demand Solutions come in. We help you increase brand awareness and fuel your pipeline with a variety of personalized content marketing and demand generation solutions stamped with the credibility of Frost & Sullivan.

If you have any remaining budget that you need to allocate. I’ve got one piece of advice; DON’T adopt a use-it-or-lose-it mentality or what I’ve heard referred to as the “Irrational Budget Dump.”  Instead – make an investment and partner with us. Simply fill out our contact us form and one of our marketing consultants will be in touch to schedule a free consultation with you.

Until next – remember to grow your brand…and drive demand!


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