In four conversations last week, I found myself talking about what to think about when developing a marketing budget.
I’ve been asked dozens, if not hundreds, of times: “For my industry, what percentage of sales should we devote to our marketing budget?” I get it from my students. I get it from our clients. And I get it from the people in the audience when I speak. My answer is usually, “It doesn’t matter,” or, “Why do you care?” depending on how feisty I’m feeling.
Ultimately, your marketing budget needs to be zero-based. Though few people talk about it, I’m not alone on this–it’s one of the cornerstones of Integrated Marketing Communications.
Think about it: Do you really want to do what your competitors are doing? Even if you did, your goals and financial capabilities would never be identical. A company that wants to reduce base erosion by 10 percent would have a different budget than one that wanted to grow their base by 30 percent.
Zero-based budgeting is a process that simply means don’t start with baseline assumptions. You can and should reference what you’ve done in the past, but you really need to start from your objectives to build from there.
You simply shouldn’t pre-project budgets based on industry averages or agency recommendations that don’t reflect your company’s goals and resources.
Instead, pay for what you need to meet your goals, based on the appropriate strategy, tactics and deliverables necessary to execute your marketing plan.
That’s the responsible way to invest in your marketing.
Note: In part, this post has sourced some information from the white paper length preview of my book on Responsible Marketing.