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Building the Best Marketing Budget for Today’s B2B Environment

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by: Ellen Valentine (@EllenValentine)
14 November 2012

It’s that time of year again – time to start budgeting and planning for 2013. It’s a big undertaking, but it's a good opportunity to take a step back, assess how things are working, and make plans to change or improve your marketing strategies.

The business world has changed for marketers during the last few years. Like many other professions, marketers are constantly being asked to do more with less. The marketing department has more responsibility for driving revenue and assists sales in the lead nurturing process more than ever before. Marketing departments are also adapting to more educated and resourceful consumers. Buyers have the Internet and social networks at their fingertips and come into the buying cycle informed and with a clear picture of what your company offers.

All of this requires an approach to budgeting that’s more strategic than in years past. If 2012’s trends continue, it will likely mean a bump up in dollars with a significant portion going toward digital marketing, often with some form of improved marketing automation. But whatever final shape those dollars take, here are a few tips for getting the most out of your marketing budget:

  • Plan for technology’s increased role in marketing. A recent Gartner study found that by 2017, the CMO will spend more money on technology than the CIO. The right technologies benefit every aspect of a marketer’s day-to-day responsibilities, including content production, interaction with prospects, efficiency, benchmarking, accountability and ROI.  With this knowledge, every B2B marketing department should have a defined budget for digital marketing technology in their 2013 plans.

    Marketers everywhere are being asked to do more with less, and today’s buyers expect personalized, timely and relevant messages. This is virtually impossible to handle manually, so to get more personal, marketers need to get more automated. Investing in marketing automation technologies should be a part of every B2B marketing department’s 2013 plans, whether it’s just getting started or getting more out of a platform that’s already in place. Ultimately, this investment will help turn prospects into loyal customers – generating more revenue for your business.

  • Review last year’s results and carefully consider processes, goals and benchmarks. Take a look back at 2012 and see what worked and what didn’t. Don’t be afraid to be honest – if you aren’t, you can’t make the decisions that will positively impact your business going forward. When reviewing 2012, see what marketing initiatives contributed the most to the sales pipeline and then prioritize those things for 2013. If you have a marketing automation or CRM technology in place, one or both of those systems should give you clear answers.

    Make sure that marketing’s goals align with the rest of the company’s – your budget goals should clearly reflect the direction your business is taking in the next year. It’s also always good practice to compare your budget details and goals to industry benchmarks within your segment. These benchmarks will help guide you in the budgeting decision process.

  • Think outside the “budgeting box.” Because the way we market to today’s empowered buyers is changing, the way we think about budgeting must evolve also. In years past, it was common practice to have one “agency of record.” Marketers should now consider having multiple boutique agencies, each of which specializes in a niche area. This will not only prove to be helpful, but also more cost effective. Also remember to budget for marketing education. You want your marketing department to be the most informed of current trends and best practices, and implementing organized, department-wide educational seminars will ensure everyone stays on the same page.

When finalizing your budget for 2013, take a step back and look at the big picture. Make sure you are meeting all of your departmental goals and that they are lined up with the broader goals of the organization as a whole. This will ensure that you’re in a good position to start 2013 off on the right foot.

For more detailed information on budgeting for today’s B2B marketing department, take a look at our recent white paper.

Related Resources:
1) White Paper: "Building the Best Marketing Budget for Today's B2B Environment"
2) White Paper: "Automation: Redefining Marketing's Game Plan"
3) Blog Post: "The New Marketing Team: Who You Need to Succeed"

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