“The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations.”Jacob Lew, US Treasury Department
Are you tasked with coming up with the marketing budget for your B2B company?
Developing a solid B2B marketing budget can feel more like a complex jigsaw puzzle than the mere allocation of resources.
Even in the best of times, balancing brand promotion, attracting qualified leads and maintaining a healthy sales pipeline can be more art than science.
Making your marketing budget doesn’t have to be an ordeal.
With our B2B marketing budgeting calculator you will be able to match your organization’s budget with our strategic recommendations and find the right blend of services to meet your organization’s goals.
This budgeting calculator and accompanying e-book have already been downloaded by many of your B2B marketing peers.
Interested? Fill out the form to the right to receive the spreadsheet and e-book.
B2B Marketing Budget Basics
Learn why it’s important to prepare a B2B marketing budget. We discuss B2B marketing budgeting fundamentals.
All B2B companies should start the year with a detailed marketing plan and a marketing budget to fund the plan.
Without a plan and a budget, marketing initiatives tend to be defined impulsively and on the fly – a sure recipe for disaster.
Marketers who don’t operate with a plan and a budget tend to underperform those who do. Those with a budget are more strategic in their thinking and their marketing programs are synergistic with each other. In contrast, those with less discipline tend to lose track of what Marketing’s role is with respect to helping the organization to achieve the top business objectives defined for the year.
Congratulations, you’re here because you are a disciplined marketer who wants to prepare a strong B2B marketing budget.
To get you started on that journey, here are some factors to consider when building your business’s marketing budget:
- Keep the competition in mind – As with all else in business, marketing budgets aren’t created in a vacuum. This means that you need to consider both how you and your competitors reach current and potential customers. If others in your industry are highly active in conferences, attracting a following on social media or publishing thought leadership pieces in the traditional media, you may want to be present in the same spaces to let your organization’s voice be heard.
- Don’t forget about your brand – It’s imperative for your organization to establish and maintain a reputation as a thought leader so that your brand remains top of mind for potential customers. Before they enter your sales process, prospective customers must be aware of and respect your brand, wouldn’t you agree? Accordingly, the marketing programs in your budget should include the right balance of lead generation tactics and brand-building tactics.
- Focus on company goals, not just marketing goals – Not all public-facing activity is sales-oriented, and your marketing budget should account for this. A variety of company priorities, like attracting dedicated and talented employees, rely on your firm’s marketing prowess as much as on more traditional factors like company culture and compensation. Don’t let your marketing budget succumb to tunnel vision, and stay ahead of the curve with investments in multiple marketing strategies, each laser-focused on an important company goal.
More B2B Marketing Budget Advice
Want more tips on preparing B2B marketing budgets? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
At Walker Sands, we’ve worked with countless B2B companies to help them raise awareness, increase the quantity and quality of leads, accelerate sales cycles and nurture customer relationships.
Our free B2B marketing budget spreadsheet encapsulates many of our lessons learned – regarding what works and what doesn’t work for B2B marketing.
To learn more, simply complete our form to receive the budgeting template and our useful e-book on B2B marketing budgeting.
Audit First, Budget Second
Before you flesh out your marketing budget, it’s important to assess the results for prior marketing initiatives and keep an eye on what the competition is doing.
Before you start working on your marketing budget, we recommend that you conduct an audit and assessment exercise.
Assuming this isn’t the company’s first year of operations, you’ll want to lookback at what channels and campaigns were effective in the prior year’s marketing budget.
While past performance isn’t always indicative of future performance, if it worked last year, you may want to throw more money at it this year. Similarly, if a marketing tactic bombed for you last year – and you’re sure there’s nothing that can be tweaked to improve performance this year, maybe it shouldn’t be in the budget.
In addition to looking at your own marketing track record, we also recommend inventorying what the competition has been doing. Just because they are doing it doesn’t mean you should do it, but having this context in mind – what the competition is spending money on – is helpful when you get to the point in the B2B marketing budgeting process where you are fine-tuning your marketing spend allocations to various marketing buckets.
We discuss this topic in more detail in the e-book that comes with our B2B Marketing Budgeting Spreadsheet. To receive both items, simply complete our form.
Don’t Forget Goal Alignment
Business goals drive marketing goals, right? Surprisingly, some marketers allocate budget without considering how well the allocations support their most important strategic goals.
As you define your marketing budget, it’s a good best practice to correlate marketing spend to business objectives and marketing goals.
Believe it or not, many folks just allocate spend to categories (e.g. events) and never both to justify the expense by explaining how the spend advances business interests and how success (or failure) will be measured.
Our B2B Marketing Budgeting Spreadsheet can’t take into account all of your business priorities, but we do allow you to prioritize certain aspects of your marketing programs.
In our accompanying e-book on B2B marketing budgets, we discuss the topic of marketing budgets and goal alignment in greater detail. Both the e-book and the spreadsheet are free. You can get them by completing the form on this page.
As you gear up to get your marketing budgets done, we hope they are helpful to you. We would also love to get your feedback so we can improve the spreadsheet and the e-book for other B2B marketers who are looking for budgeting help.
Total Spend for a Marketing Budget
Marketing budgets vary based on numerous factors. Still, a few rules of thumb can help you determine what your marketing budget should be.
A common way to define total spend for a marketing budget is to multiply revenues by a percentage amount. If your revenues are $100 million and you use a 4% multiplier, for example, that might suggest that you should invest $4 million on marketing.
But these rule-of-thumb numbers need to be modified based on context. For example, a company that is heavily reliant on channel partners selling white-label versions of a product might not need as heavy of an emphasis on marketing as another company that only closes a sale if somebody signs up for a product online.
Moreover, these multipliers make no sense at all for start-up companies. A brand new company with zero revenues that applies multiple-of-revenues math to come up with a total for marketing spend will always get a recommendation to spend nothing on marketing. Clearly absurd.
In our e-book, we discuss various considerations you should think about when defining your total marketing budget, and our marketing budget spreadsheet template walks you through the specifics for your organization.
To get the free e-book and spreadsheet for B2B marketing budgeting, simply complete our form.
Allocating Budget to Brand Awareness
Whether your organization is new or old, you’ll need marketing programs that drive brand awareness.
Building rapport with potential customers take weeks, months and sometimes years, and often begins before the search for a product or solution begins.
Given the need to be visible to potential buyers as early and as offen as possible, brand awareness is a crucial marketing tool because it helps partners and customers recognize and remember your company and offerings.
By painting your brand in a positive light, it makes it easier to achieve your business goals. On the flip side, without brand awareness, everything your trying to achieve will be harder.
Accordingly, our B2B Marketing Budgeting Spreadsheet allocates a portion of your marketing spend to building brand awareness. You can dial that emphasis up or down as needed. If your brand is already incredibly strong, for example, you can have the generated budget focus more on lead generation instead.
The value of brand awareness and our recommendations regarding marketing tactics that help you build a brand are explained in more detail in the e-book that accompanies our marketing budgeting template. You can get both the e-book and the spreadsheet by completing the form on this page.
B2B Marketing Budgeting for Lead Generation
What marketing tactics are best suited for a company that is prioritizing lead generation? We discuss the marketing tactics that we love to use for lead gen.
A B2B marketing budget that prioritizes lead generation will typically focus on engaging directly with prospects who are potential buyers.
This means less emphasis on broad brand awareness strategies. Instead, the emphasis is on being in front of the customer when they are in a buying mode. Accordingly, you’ll see budgets that prioritize lead gen putting more spend towards paid online advertising, content marketing, SEO, website improvements and the like.
For a complete discussion of how B2B marketing budgets change when lead gen is the top priority, we recommend you get our free e-book on marketing budgets. You’ll also receive our budgeting spreadsheet, which makes it easy to create a marketing budget that is geared towards lead generation to drive sales and revenue growth.
You can obtain our free e-book and spreadsheet with just a few mouse clicks, by completing our online form.
What About Calling an Audible?
In our experience, some of the best marketing programs are those that weren’t explicitly laid out in a company’s initial marketing plan. Marketers need a marketing slush fund.
Every B2B marketing budget should include a line item or two for experimentation.
Accordingly, our B2B Marketing Budgeting Template includes an “Other Marketing Expenses” line item. With this extra funding in place, you’ll have money to spend on testing new marketing channels, purchasing needed marketing technology or doing whatever it is that couldn’t possibly be anticipated at budgeting time.
After all, there’s a growing trend toward agile marketing. That means you try stuff, see how it does, iterate to improve and then either punt or allocate funds. It’s a bit like a football quarterback calling an audible. Sticking to the plan isn’t always the best approach, so your budget should be flexible and nimble.
While our B2B Marketing Budgeting Template gives you a starting point for the year, you’ll want to be able to recast the budget based on shifting business priorities or based on knowledge you’ve gained about what works and what doesn’t work. It’s good to evaluate these things on a regular monthly basis (schedule all the meetings at the start of the year to make sure you have these important discussions), and we recommend formally revising the marketing budget before the start of each quarter.
Long story short, don’t be shy to call an audible every so often and be sure to build flexibility into your marketing plan. For further discussion on this topic, we recommend that you read the full e-book that is based on our many marketing successes with Walker Sands clients over several years.
Ready to get started? You can get our marketing budgeting e-book and our marketing budgeting spreadsheet by completing the form on this page.
It takes less than thirty seconds to complete the form and will likely save you countless hours and result in a much stronger marketing budget than if you started with an empty spreadsheet.
How Our B2B Marketing Budget Calculator Works
It’s not a silver bullet for creating your marketing budget, but we’ll give you a nice budgeting framework customized to your priorities.
Our B2B Marketing Budget Calculator is an Excel spreadsheet that generates a budget for you, based on the following inputs:
- Total Marketing Budget – You can either enter in your budget or let us help you to figure out the right amount for total spend.
- Marketing Priority – We ask you what your top marketing priority is – Lead Generation, Brand Awareness, or Both?
- Marketing Specifics – We ask you a few specific questions about your situation. For example, does the marketing budget need to include creating or redesigning a website? These questions help us to further refine your marketing budget allocations.
Based on these inputs, we first allocate spend to high-level “buckets” (e.g. PR, Events, etc.). As a second iteration, based on your inputs, we allocate spend within the buckets to various tactical subcategories. As an example, a budget for PR would include subcategories like media relations, award submissions and speaking opportunities.
Once we’ve done that, you’ve got a recommended starting point for your marketing budget. You’ll still need to refine it, but it’s much better than starting with an empty Excel spreadsheet, don’t you agree?
Ready for us to generate a B2B marketing budget for you? Just complete our form to get access to the spreadsheet and our e-book on B2B marketing budgeting best practices.
The Tactics We Recommend
You’re probably familiar with the marketing tactics we cover in our marketing budget templates. If not, we’ve provided a short overview of every tactic.
The marketing budget our tool generates for you will include at least twenty specific line items for marketing spend, including top-level categories and supporting tactical subcategories.
In the e-book, we briefly explain each element of your marketing program, as itemized in the spreadsheet budget.
To receive the budgeting spreadsheet and the accompanying e-book, just complete the form on this page.
If you need additional help with developing your marketing plan or are looking for a quality agency to support you on tactical education, we’d love to talk and see whether we’d be a good partner for you.
What to Do Once You’ve Got the High Level Marketing Budget
The first draft of your marketing budget should only allocate funds at a very high level. After that, there’s still some work to do.
If you’ve worked with Walker Sands, you know that we are big on integrated marketing and campaign-driven marketing.
Unfortunately, our budgets can’t define all of your individual campaigns and all of the interconnections between your various marketing functions and groups. That’s for you to do once you’ve gotten the high-level budget recommendations.
Specifically, once our B2B Marketing Budgeting Spreadsheet creates your high-level budget, you’ll want to do the following:
- Save a copy of the spreadsheet and re-allocate spend based on the specifics of your organization and your charter for your Marketing group. Our recommended allocations should be approximately on target, but you’ll still want to refine them.
- Build a separate worksheet into your spreadsheet that lists out your major marketing campaigns and initiatives for the year. (If you haven’t figured out every detail of your marketing plan just yet, don’t worry. You can put stuff like “Campaign #3 to Audience #2.” Also, it’s a good idea to put have a final row that is simply “Other TBD”)
- Next, record tentative budgets for each row, making sure that your total marketing spend foots to the total budget.
- Now, make sure that the generated budget will support all of your individual campaigns and initiatives. For example, let’s say our B2B Marketing Budgeting Spreadsheet allocates $12,000 per month to online advertising (e.g. Google Adwords), will that be enough for all of your big campaigns? How will you allocate that spend to various campaigns?
- As a final step, you may want to allocate the marketing budget over time. Start with quarterly allocations and then break that down into monthly allocations for the year.
As with all aspects of the marketing budgeting process, all of this will be iterative. When you’re done, you’ll have a strong marketing budget that supports your business objectives, your marketing goals and all of your marketing campaigns and initiatives for the year.
We discuss this refinement process in more detail in our e-book. If you haven’t done so already, we recommend that you request the B2B marketing budget spreadsheet and e-book by completing our form.