By Stacey Piper
Even before I put away the Halloween decorations this year, the stores were already stocked with Christmas decorations. The press is issuing dire warnings that there won’t be any gifts on the shelves for procrastinators due to pandemic-impacted supply chains. In other words, if you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, you may be out of luck!
Meanwhile financial apps offer to round up and save your spare change, and some banks still offer Christmas club accounts to prepare for the frenzy. In any event, there’s often a disconnect between what we budget for gift-giving (if we budget) and our actual spend, after getting caught up in finding the “perfect gift” or realizing we left some people off the list.
Making Your List
Companies face similar challenges in planning their annual marketing budgets as they try to predict the number and type of campaigns, upcoming proposals and recompetes, required labor, and more.
- Establishing Your Budget: How do you outfit Santa’s workshop? Rolling over last year’s budget is not the solution, but it can be a starting point. While there is no magic number, established companies typically spend 6-12% of gross revenue on marketing, while new companies need to spend 12-20% to make their presence known.
- Setting Goals & KPIs: Where is your sleigh going? Establish goals for 2022 with all stakeholders, then agree upon benchmarks to track the success of your efforts as the year progresses. Ensuring you have approval on the KPIs will save on having to increase spending mid-program or mid-campaign to appease leadership or clients.
- Selecting Your Tactics: What’s in your sack of presents? Select distribution channels so you can allocate funds accordingly to media partners; print, online, and other forms of advertising; website maintenance; hiring efforts; and the fixed costs of doing business. One of the challenges as we emerge from COVID lockdowns is determining the right mix of virtual versus live events. Resist the urge to overspend on in-person conferences to make up for lost time. It’s important to keep digital tactics in place that have worked well for you over the last 18 months.
- Planning the Execution: Who are your elves? Determine how you can and will execute, typically with a blend of in-house and outsourced resources. A rule of thumb is to plan to spend an additional 1-2 times the costs of content creation on labor and tools needed for promotion. For example, if you’ve spent $5,000 on developing a white paper, you should plan to spend an additional $5,000-10,000 to promote it to make the investment worthwhile.
Checking It Twice
What have you overlooked in your marketing budget? Your COO is quickly going to turn into the Grinch if you have to ask for more marketing funds halfway through the year because you didn’t anticipate a need. Do your research upfront so you can get as close to your target as possible.
- Know Your Market & Audience: Yes, there’s really more than one Santa. Understand the market and your competitors’ strategies so you can target your audience effectively.
- Know Your Sales Cycle: Christmas isn’t the only time for gift-giving. Drive growth by aligning messaging to the sales funnel so you know what to focus on and when.
- Know Your “Hidden” Costs: Don’t forget the stocking stuffers! Beware of foundational needs that add up, such as subscriptions, professional memberships, and award submission fees. If you have an in-house marketing team, professional development is an essential spend in order to stay abreast of the latest tools and trends.