Five Essential Factors To Consider Before You Allocate Marketing Spend

I’m hearing lots of news about increases in marketing spend. For instance, a few months ago Gartner predicted that CMOs will soon spend more than their counterpart CIOs, and a recent study revealed that almost half of B2B marketers will enjoy larger marketing budgets in 2013. However, there’s far less chatter about where marketing execs plan to allocate their funds –and hardly any about how they’ll account for results tied to all this spend. What factors are CMOs using to guide their investment decisions in this new Year of the Marketer? And how can they keep their budgets robust and growing?

Five Essential Factors To Consider Before You Allocate Marketing Spend image 6355327519 f05f0aa8a0 m1Five Essential Factors To Consider Before You Allocate Marketing Spend

Image courtesy of Forbes

If you’re in charge of allocating marketing spend, these five criteria should top your list of considerations:

1. Internal objectives. Ask yourself: What do you aspire to achieve? But remember, these days, your plan needs to do more than just align objectives to a budget handed down from management. You’re also expected to bring viable, creative (yet affordable) opportunities to the table and show senior management you have strategies to achieve them.

Fortunately, today’s data-driven, integrated marketing technologies makes listening to the marketplace and measuring progress far easier. Now, you can track your way toward revenue goals, have instant visibility into spending and campaign ROI, know where you stand on customer satisfaction measures or market share growth (or virtually any metric you need) and adjust your plans accordingly. I firmly believe that once you have decided on smart, attainable goals, today’s technologies can help you reach them faster.

Beyond operational and campaign spending, variables such as geographical structures, workforce development and the basic departmental dependencies at work in your company will also play a role in how your marketing plans should be designed and implemented.

2. World events. Keep a close eye on international news and forecasts. Are certain areas too risky for investment? Do you already have investments in countries or regions that are likely to be impacted by political instability, civil unrest, rule of law, climate change, etc. this year? On the flip side of that calculus, where are there valuable opportunities for expansion? How can you best leverage the growth forecasts for emerging economies?

Maintaining a world view also means constant tracking of your company’s international results and performance. Then, you need to use that data –and the insights generated from that data –to direct future allocations and growth.

3. Regs and legs. How will evolving regulations and legislation affect your marketing plans? Case in point: Even though there was plenty of time to prepare, new EU e-privacy directives appeared to catch many marketers by surprise last May. Because this sweeping legislation requires all marketers and website owners operating in any EU country to obtain consent from European users before implementing cookies or other technologies to capture online visitor information, many companies were left scrambling to maintain compliance.

4. Industry and financial analyst reports. Industry analysts can be valuable sources of insights –as long as you remember to view their reports in a context that’s meaningful for your company. For instance, I’ve often found that industry analysts are great at providing information on what customerswant, but not-so-great at providing information on what real customers – those actually buying and using marketing solutions –actually need, which is a reliable, proven long-term partner to help them navigate change. In my book, if credible industry analysts acknowledge a vendor as a visionary leader in their market, I have no doubt that vendor can help its customers execute toward leadership in theirs.

Financial analyst reports are vital, as well, because our budgets are often guided by the health –or the perceived health –of the global economy. Larger firms can spend saved resources to take market share from competitors during a downturn; smaller firms might have to cut back. You need to stay tuned into today’s macro-economic and micro-industry trends so you can gauge how the economy may affect your plans down the road. As we all learned in Econ 101, financial markets are governed by four major factors: governments, international transactions, speculation/expectation, and supply and demand. These same forces shape trends across the marketing industry.

5. Results. I can’t stress this enough: Marketers need to start investing in results. It’s time to throw out those reams of old spreadsheets and update your processes to include marketing spend software. There’s really no other way to get the visibility you need across today’s multi-channel campaigns; there’s really no other way to efficiently see when you need to step in and stop the bleed on programs that aren’t working and/or throttle up those that are performing well. The point is, successful marketing is well-planned marketing, and successful marketing delivers demonstrable ROI. A recent headline in AdAge says it all: “P&G Results Pave Way for Rise in Marketing Spending.”

Most marketers I know are reveling in the spending responsibilities now in their hands. But, we all must remember that we’ll only be able to keep management’s continued trust if we can show and explain a positive return on marketing investment (ROMI). Before you spend a dime, make sure your objectives are clear, and be certain you’ve factored in the internal and external factors that can help or hinder your success.

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