Apportioning your Marketing Budget

Author: Hamish Anderson

Since the first marketing report was written, marketers the world over have had to deliberate (often with themselves) how to best allocate their marketing budget amongst the various options available to them. Today, when there are so many different options available, and with markets converging and diverging simultaneously, what is the best way to split your budget so as to achieve the best results for every dollar you spend?

Here are a few things you may want to consider when trying to work out how to apportion that marketing budget for the year ahead.

Tip 1 – Ignore the options

I know many marketers – and truth be told I have been guilty of this in the past too – who lose weeks when writing their marketing plan. It is not that they are inefficient, but rather that they get too easily get caught up in flights of fancy, postulating on how they can use some new emergent form of marketing, or integrate a campaign across various digital channels, or reap the benefits of creating a new campaign that goes viral. However, to use an old analogy, that could perhaps be a case of putting the cart before the horse.

Whilst it may seem innately obvious, a good thing to always remember is that one of the first things you need to do when looking at your marketing year ahead is work out what your goals are, how they can be broken down into short and long term goals and if possible broken down again from here.

Tip 2 – Determine the ROI you want to Generate

Similar to the above – yet potentially more important given the need to determine how you split your budget – is determination of what constitutes financial goals and what other goals cannot necessarily be given a numerical value and therefore need different classification. An example of the latter may include something such as increasing your membership database of ‘refer a friend’ contacts.   By doing this, you are giving yourself a total aggregated goal which you have to achieve. Similarly, in knowing what your non-financial goals are, you can quantify what constitutes success for your initial outlay. Remember, investment in marketing activity – especially as concerns platforms such as social media – is no longer necessarily only quantified by a gross dollar value, but by other factors such as time invested. Thus, have you considered ROI in terms of number of new customers which result from specific activity and which thus saves further investment in other activities (I have previously written about this in my article “ROI – More Sense than Dollars”. )?

Tip 3 – Consider how your market has evolved

Most marketers have an understanding of how technology is evolving and the newer technologies which exist. However, it seems that many of these same clients have a misunderstanding of how their market are utilising technology.

Consider this: At the end of Q1, 2010, 48.1% of all phone’s sold in Australia were Smart Phones. Why is this significant? Well Smart Phone’s allow users to easily access the internet to conduct searches whilst they are out and about. Sure, this is not really a surprising fact, however, have you considered what this means for your search budget? Are you investing any of your budget into paid search? Or are you relying purely on organic? Sure organic has definitive advantages over PPC, BUT, think on this. reported that on a Smart Phone:

“A single search ad on a PC takes up about 4 percent of the screen real estate, whereas a single search ad on a smartphone takes up about 20 percent of the screen. The relatively larger size of the ads results in higher click-through rates on mobile (as much as 3 to 5 times as much)”

Sure, there are more paid ads displayed on a PC/desktop than a Smart Phone, however, the value of holding a strong PPC position is therefore even more important when considering the growing use of smartphones. Therefore, have you considered investing more in PPC than you have in previous years?

Tip 4 – Are you taking learnings from the market?

It is one thing to say you are listening to what your customers are telling you and evolving your service or product to better cater to their needs/meet requirements or so on. In fact it is very important to do this, however, what are you doing to capture a larger share of the market?

Whilst it makes fundamental sense to seek to maintain your existing brand advocates, are you listening to what the broader market want? Are you seeking to meet their needs and therefore increase your market value/share even more? Are you using social media for example to listen to the broader conversation, or are you using it only as a platform to seed brand information?

Either way, whatever you are doing, make sure that you consider what the return is, and what you can justify as a viable spend as well as what your returns are likely to be, ahead of committing funds to it.


At the end of the day, every marketing situation is unique. Even the most meticulous plans may need to be changed and maintain some fluidity throughout the year. However, planning ahead is essential if you wish to have any marketing success. My tip for ensuring things go more to plan, is to make sure that you have evaluated your requirements, determined what is a suitable ROI and how you plan to implement everything. I don’t guarantee this will lead to success, but it will put you in a better position.

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