As summer begins to wind down and the fourth quarter nears, chances are that you, a business owner or manager, will soon be looking ahead to the holiday season and contemplating how that season may impact your business.
Sure, you still need to get through the busy Labor Day Weekend at work and then maybe take the family on the final camping trip of the year. However, it is time to start thinking about January 2017 business and along with that, a marketing plan and advertising budget.
Forbes.com published an article in June 2013, entitled, “Three Steps To A Solid Marketing Budget.” Author Dave Lavinsky explained that in developing a solid marketing budget and creating a plan of action, the effort will help improve revenues. Further, he noted that without a solid budget, business owners could accidentally overspend on marketing costs.
It’s likely that the fiscal year for your business is January to December. If that is the case, it’s imperative to set aside time in September and October to design an annual marketing budget for 2017. (If that’s not the case, simply switch this plan around to accommodate your schedule.)
Approach the project with a positive attitude. After all, this is really about new opportunities and an improved bottom line. Here are a few steps to take to make the process easier, effective and enjoyable.
- Financial Checkup: Understand where you are at this point in the year regarding your business’s finances. What is the average monthly revenue and what are the average monthly expenses YTD? Importantly, are you meeting or exceeding your estimated profit? This review will help set the stage for decisions regarding your annual marketing budget.
- Marketing Checkup: How much have you spent on marketing and advertising each month YTD and how have you spent those dollars? List all advertising selections from the past 8-to-12 months and evaluate each one. Did you try a new marketing campaign or service? What was the outcome? Is there something new on the horizon you’d like to test?
- 2017 Marketing Plan and Budget: You have reviewed your financial situation and previous marketing efforts and costs. Now the fun begins and the creative juices can start flowing. First, what might be new and different with your business next year? It could be you are planning an expansion, adding an exciting product or service or bringing on new talent to join your group. This is the appropriate time to calculate or recalculate your annual marketing budget based on what you expect in 2017. Many businesses allocate a percentage of actual or projected gross revenues for marketing expenses. The percentage may vary depending on how long you have been in business, changes in business such as an expansion or new location, new products, etc. The U.S. Small Business Administration(SBA) reminds all business owners that marketing is essential to profitability and growth. Yet, the SBA warns, many small businesses do not allocate adequate dollars to marketing and some spend it haphazardly. That is the sign of a lack of planning. If you are in a resort market, the busiest months will differ when compared to a business that operates in a more traditional market area. Plot your course by month based on revenue forecasts, seasons, expected customer traffic, special events and so forth. Put pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and schedule it all out.
- Follow Up: Once your annual marketing budget for 2017 is drafted, it should remain top of mind as you go about day-to-day business. Perhaps you plan to order new business cards in January, prepare a Valentine’s Day enewsletter for February or capitalize on the first day of spring in March with a digital campaign. Focus and preplanning is essential to be successful.
The SBA provides this useful suggestion … At the end of the day; the time spent developing your annual marketing budget is time well spent because it defines how you connect with your customers. And that’s an investment worth making.