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5 Steps to Setting a Marketing Budget

Successful marketing leaders understand the value of early planning. Aligning with sales and other internal departments to support the coming year’s business goals should be completed well before year end. This multi-step process typically takes several weeks, much analysis, and the engagement of associates throughout the organization.

There are many benefits of completing marketing plans and budgets early. If technology investments are part of your marketing plan, you can start your research before year-end to give you a jump on making purchasing decisions in the New Year. You can kick off the year with your team by laying out directives and goals for the year, and you will know exactly the marketing budget you have available to start implementing from day one. Negotiations with other departments or your executive team will be completed so that you can begin the year working toward your goals.

5 Steps to Setting a Marketing Budget

It can be overwhelming to create a new marketing plan, especially for new marketing leaders. Here are five steps to follow to ensure you’re covering all the critical aspects in your thought process as you devise your plan and allocate your marketing budget.

Understand your company’s overarching business goals. It is critical to start with this information as the core of your plan so that the initiatives you create support the end-goals of the business. Marketing efforts should most directly align with sales goals for the year and many companies create shared goals across the sales and marketing teams to ensure they are working collaboratively toward the same end result.

Identify the annual marketing budget early. To effectively build a realistic plan in support of the business, you must know the marketing budget number you will be given. When budgets are in flux, it leads to unpleasant surprises down the line. For example, if expectations of the marketing team are set but the budget is not defined, it is easy for the marketing team to get into a situation where they are underfunded to accomplish all their pre-established goals.

Identify new marketing trends and technologies. Think big when it comes to planning specific marketing approaches and campaigns. It is important to consider the current year’s plan and determine which activities to continue and which to stop. It is just as important to consider new technologies that may benefit your business by amplifying your message, reaching a new audience, or by better understanding your marketing metrics. 2017 has brought many new marketing trends so be sure to research them and brainstorm new ways to apply them to your efforts.

Analyze industry marketing budget trends. Read industry publications and reports from research firms on this topic. You can glean a lot of valuable insight on trends that are upcoming as well as success rates of different approaches. While this data alone is not enough to determine how you should structure your marketing budget, it provides an additional perspective that can help guide you to think outside your normal campaigns and tactics and determine where to place your big bets.

Build your marketing plan and allocate your budget. Now it is time for introspective. Consider your success with current marketing strategies that should be continued but also consider those strategies that are not working. Think through the resources you have available to execute and whether there are specific types of activities that should be outsourced to a marketing agency. Be sure to include measurable metrics in your plan so that you can demonstrate success throughout the year. This will also provide documented benchmarks that will be needed to scale your team and your marketing budget as your company grows.

Also read – Keys to Developing a B2B Digital Marketing Plan

Following these five steps will provide a solid structure from which you can build your marketing plan and allocate your marketing budget for 2018. For more details on setting a marketing budget, download the guide: “5 Critical Steps for Planning Your 2018 Marketing Budget or contact us for a free marketing audit.


With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.