Strategic Marketing Budget and Business Goal Alignment
No matter how you slice it, effectively budgeting for marketing is a complex exercise with as many inputs as there are levers for success.
And now, with increasing scrutiny on spend and ROI, there is more pressure than ever to directly connect investments to business return. Although there’s not a one-size-fits all answer to what will have the greatest impact on your business, there are a few key starting points for setting strategic budgets and effectively aligning your goals to larger business strategies.
Business and Marketing Goal Alignment
The foundation of a successful budget is having marketing and business goals that work in tandem with each other. However, changing priorities and the input of multiple stakeholders can sometimes make alignment difficult.
All organizations, no matter their size or structure, should start by considering the core goals of the business for the year ahead and understanding long-term growth plans. After narrowing in on how marketing can most effectively move the needle for specific goals, you can begin to create internal alignment for how marketing can support in those areas.
One approach we recommend involves initiating conversations with a wide range of stakeholders — from the sales team to the product leaders to talent — to better understand priorities and challenges in accomplishing business goals in the year ahead. You can use those discussions to determine where there’s alignment and flag new areas of opportunity for marketing support across the organization. If you’re looking for results-driven marketing, then it’s critical to have these conversations with internal teams so you can unite around a shared goal and develop the marketing plan — and budget — accordingly.
Creating a Strategic Budget
At its core, a successful marketing budget is less about dollars (yes, you need those too) and more about the ways in which marketing spend connects to the goals of the organization. In addition to ensuring your business and marketing goals are aligned, there are a few things to consider when planning and strategizing your budget:
Use your tech to help scale and prove ROI.
As marketers, moving quickly at the start of the year is key, but the right foundation will allow you to more effectively report success in the year ahead and set a foundation for future growth.
With the right tech tools and a solid measurement infrastructure in place, you’ll be equipped to more effectively scale campaigns and tie marketing investments directly to revenue. Focus on your multi-touch attribution technology to provide a holistic view of how your channels are working together to drive conversions and revenue. This will help you see which channels should continue to be prioritized. Using your tech stack to track and measure marketing successes will not only allow you to optimize your marketing tactics over time, but also report on ROI in a more meaningful way to senior leadership. It provides the “why” to your marketing strategy.
Evaluate current investments.
Analyzing the current state of marketing activities — especially in parallel with competitive intelligence on marketing activities to determine further areas of opportunity — can lead to important insights. Some questions to think about during this analysis include:
- What has helped drive growth?
- Which channels will have the most impact in the short term? In the long term?
- Where are competitors currently engaging your audiences and how can you ensure your marketing will stand out and engage audiences in the way you hope?
If possible, leverage a third-party or specific model for this analysis to provide
additional non-biased methodology and internal alignment on the right investments.
Set goals by audience based on data insights.
Marketing can often serve as a blanket activity to drive awareness and leads, especially when starting out in a new market or building a foundation for the first time. However, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the buyer journey for the budgeting process — it’s how you know where to focus your spend to help customers move from awareness to purchase.
While leads are important, honing in on specific activities by audience within the buyer journey (decision-maker, influencer, researcher, etc.) can provide opportunities to focus your spend in a way that resonates with audiences by role and industry. It can also help reduce friction within the buying process and speed up the sales cycle. The more insights you capture from data, reporting and research, the easier it will be to make connections with your audience.
Ultimately, budgets can be scaled up or down, but their success depends on the foundational elements you build into your plan and how you’re measuring success. Looking for help in determining key marketing priorities or completing competitive research? Start a conversation with us to learn how Walker Sands can help.