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Follow Your Path – Budget & Timeline

Posted on the 27 February 2013 by Steveonline @steve_online

AnalyzeCompetition Follow Your Path   Budget & Timeline

Thanks for coming to Steve Online and reading this series on Don’t Follow the Pack, Follow Your Path. This is part 1 of a 7 part series detailing a scaleable way to setup a marketing strategy for your next campaign. For a 1000ft overview you can read, Don’t Follow the Pack, Follow Your Plan which gives an overview on the 7 steps and how they are approached.

marketingbudget Follow Your Path   Budget & Timeline
Budget & Timeline are two crucial items that set up your entire campaign. First your budget. The amount you have to spend will directly effect what you will be able to accomplish and at what varying level of detail. Your timeline is the step by step monitoring of your campaign which is essential to keeping you on budget. Hopefully after this article you have a greater understanding of the Don’t Follow the Pack, Follow Your Path methods to budget and timeline.

BudgetDetermining your budget is often times based upon your companies revenue and there are many charts and graphics out there detailing the scale of revenue to marketing budget by percentage. For most reading this you would probably fall into the ‘less than $5 million’ category and have a budget of 7-8% revenue for your yearly campaigns. Searching ”corporate marketing budgets” on Google will help you find a lot more details if setting a company wide policy on your marketing budget is something you need to do. For the purposes of this article we are assuming you have a finite budget of X dollars already established.

Be it $500 or $50,000 the principals are still the same for running a successful marketing campaign.

Companies of larger networks like IBM Business Partners are given MDF funds that they can use both on pre-selected marketing offerings as well as making their own choices. If your in the position of spending $10k of someone else’s money you will be prone to riskier strategies that you and your company might not go even remotely near on your own dime, or spend it on something you need but were not going to put the financial resources behind. A very common use is web development for companies with outdated static sites. It’s outdated because they don’t want to pay, partner dollars might be just what they needed to get them over the hump and spending on that shiny new social website their competition already has.

Pre-budget research is an essential component for planning out your marketing campaigns budget. You need to know not only the upfront costs, but any recurring costs that may be associated with the plan. If there are secondary follow through contingencies you need to have them accounted for now so there are no surprises later.

When setting your Marketing Budget consider the following:

  • How are you developing your brand and what direction are you going to accomplish this? Logos, web design, telemarketing, direct mail flyers and brochures, email campaigns, PowerPoint presentations, video productions, blogs, trade shows, etc.
  • Recurring costs of promoting and advertising your brand to potential and existing customers. Social Media is a huge play for companies now and something you need to involve your company with. You can find 10 great social media outlets for 2013 to help get your company on track if it’s not already.

Consider the other expenses if your business is growing to support your newfound marketing efforts. Salaries for marketing managers, additional office space environments, travel and hotel costs, phone expenses, printing, editing, postage, etc. all add up quickly for a company, especially if not properly accounted for! Keeping your budget in writing from the start is the best way to keep yourself on track. Take the time to plan out the backing costs for each part of your marketing campaign.

Example: You want to run a direct mail marketing campaign. You need to budget for design, printing, and mailing services. Each of those items depending on the situation may have additional costs associated to them to add another layer of expense to your project. Managing each of these details will keep your on task and hopefully, on budget!

AnalyzeCompetition Follow Your Path   Budget & Timeline
Analyze your competition to see what they are doing with their marketing dollars. If you have not yet identified your top 5 competitors shame on you! But don’t worry it’s never too late to put in some research time. Identify your top 5 competitors and search them on the web. Find out what they’re advertising and where it’s being displayed. Are people talking about them? If so how they they find out about them and is it something you can improve upon and do for your company? Is your competitor directly engaging your clients on a regular basis? Do you need to branch out further into uncharted territory?

There are endless questions you can ask yourself when it comes to your competition and how you plan on getting your brand in front of the prospects eyes first. A careful mix of marketing strategies planned into your budget will help you get ahead. Is your competition hurting from the economy, if so, now might be the perfect time to ramp up your marketing campaign and make a strike for additional market share.

 Track that money – One of the most important parts of keeping your budget is to track your marketing dollars and be able to come up with tangible results of where the money went with the best results in the end. Keep tabs on your customers and how they found out about you. Keep tweaking and adjusting your campaign to get the best results and as you do so monitor the expenses. You might end up finding a cheaper way to get in front of that same hot target which will allow your budget to extend your reach even further.


brand Follow Your Path   Budget & Timeline

Timeline – A lot of what I’ve been saying about keeping your budget on track is essentially the same as Timeline since they go hand in hand. Some mediums like print, tv, or radio will dramatically increase your timelines. Production involves longer lead times to get the jobs ready for distribution.

The technical level of your marketing campaign will help determine your timeline and your ability to keep to it. Do your best to plan ahead so you can account for bumps in the road and maintain a steady pace for your marketing campaign.

Your full timeline might look something like this:

  • Market Analysis (research, competitive analysis, etc.)
  • Quantitative Analysis (who already likes your offerings)
  • Strategic Planning (Innovation you bring to the table)
  • Product Positioning (What defines us)
  • Promotional Cycle (Lead generation, press, demos, brochures)
  • Sales and Support (Closing business, returning customers)
  • Internal Reviews (analysis of campaigns and their individual parts)

Keep in mind that various services will effect the overall timeline and account for it accordingly. Make sure that you don’t have overlap where calls take place before materials get mailed or emailed out. Keep everything in order and on a clean schedule with room for change. You might hate an email campaign mailer that’s about to go out and need an extra day for some final tweaks to get the message just right. Leaving a little wiggle room into your marketing campaigns timeline will be something during the campaign you’re glad you provisioned for in advance.

Budgeting and timelines are really about planning things out in advance and sticking to the game plan. Don’t Follow the Pack, Follow Your Paths 7 step guide is just the tip of the iceberg. Use the information as another resource in your arsenal and research areas where you are still a little uncomfortable. You want to make sure your next marketing campaign is a well oiled machine when you execute it so you can get the highest ROI on your investment.

Next week we will be talking about Target Identification in Part 2 of the Don’t Follow the Pack, Follow Your Path series. It’s a topic that I have worked closely with for many years and have some different ways for you to help identify the best targets and save a ton by not going out and buying overpriced lists from brokers, but by putting in a little legwork of your own (or your marketing / office interns if you have the luxury) You can follow me on Twitter and Subscribe to Steve Online here. Thanks for reading!

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