Few people have unlimited marketing dollars to spend, so managing your marketing budget is a high priority for most organizations. You need to know where to invest your time and money to create the most effective campaigns. You also need to know when a tactic is working and when you need to reroute the course. It may not be as fun as creating brilliant copy or designing an infographic, but budgeting is an important piece of building a sustainable business.
Here are some tips to get you started planning a successful marketing budget:
- Know how much you have to spend. One way to do this is to look back at previous years. Find the answers to these questions: How many ads did I produce? How much did I spend? How many registrations did they bring in? If you don’t know the answers these questions, make changes to your process or adopt new tools so that you will know after this year.Beyond looking at last year, calculate how much you’re willing to spend, how much you have to spend and how much you want to spend. One of the problems with budgets is that when changes happen, we often overspend. Do you have big initiatives that differenciate this year from last year? If you know before you get started what your limits are and what the ideal situation is in terms of spending on marketing, you can be better prepared.
- Have a purpose for every dollar you spend. Define exactly how you’ll know it was a dollar well-spent. Do you want a post to reach 50,000 impressions? Do you want a targeted ad to get 500 clicks? If you don’t know what’s reasonable to target, start here: How many sales do you need to justify the spend? Set tangible goals for your marketing activities in order to perform well enough to merit the amount you’ve spent on it, before you spend the money.
- Test with small amounts of budget and spend heavily on the winners. One mistake event directors make is setting a budget, say $50 in Facebook, and then they spend it. However, we suggest that you bake a test week into your marketing plan. Test messaging and test platforms. See what’s performing and then put the rest of your budget into what has proven successful. If nothing worked, you still have more budget to test something else.
- Flexibility is key. The old adage is true in marketing as much as anywhere else: the one constant you can count on is change. If you’ve identified the number you’re willing to spend, you should have a little wiggle room in your budget for when things either don’t go as you’ve planned or new opportunities arise. Be willing to change course on a marketing campaign if you know it’s not performing. You can correct it to make sure it lives up to your pre-defined value. If you don’t know which direction to go- Test. Another option is to look at your competitor’s ads and messaging. Research what people are saying about races like yours.
- Tracking is the most important. You should be able to see all the way from impression to registration. If you can’t, you’re not getting the full picture and could be making costly mistakes. Just because people click and go to you page does not mean they actually spent money. Maybe one campaign is driving a lot of clicks but the intent is not correct.You have to look at your engagement data so you can justify your marketing spending, every day. If you don’t know how your ads or messaging are doing, you can’t justify that they’re worth the money or time you’re spending on them.
- Go where runners go. Are you advertising on ACTIVE.com? According to the Running USA 2016 Race Finishers Survey, ACTIVE.com is the #1 place that runners go for content.
Of course, in order to know how much you have to spend, you have to know how much you’ve made. ACTIVE Network Activity Cloud® tracks all this information for you, and alerts you as to how well you’re doing on a day-to-day basis, based on your goals. The program can help you forecast revenue and participants based on past performance. It can also help you determine how much to charge participants for race registration.
Budgeting may not be glamorous or interesting to most marketers, but it’s just as important as producing artwork or generating content. There is a certain art to it and once you’ve learned how to use data to predict what you’ll need, it can be an easy process.