Woot, woot, it’s budget time!

We know what you’re thinking. “I don’t have time.” “Funds are tight. “Good help is hard to find.” Insert favorite excuse here: __________________.

For the small business owner or nonprofit director, there’s no time like right now to put together a basic marketing budget. Waiting just makes it harder.

Start planning now with these 5 steps.

  1. Think small. Target only your best prospects, which most likely are current customers. Plan to spend no more than a few thousand dollars on one new tightly focused, hyper-local marketing initiative to reach them.
  2.  Set goals. Are you trying to generate interest or leads (e.g., get prospects to do a form fill) or convert leads to sales? Determine a specific number of leads or sales you should generate with your campaign budget. Set specific, measurable goals.
  3. Track results. If you don’t have your own marketing analytics software, team up with a marketing partner who can help you gauge your campaign’s ability to drive ROI. Good business managers trust their gut but verify with data.
  4. Determine next steps. If your campaign generates immediate results, ask why. What exactly resonates with your customer base? Then find ways to do more of what’s working. If the project did not reach its goals, hit pause, re-evaluate, and consider what needs to be tweaked.
  5. Rinse and repeat. Set up a schedule of promotions, events, etc. Plan your year and work your plan.

If right now you’re saying, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if I just take a year off from promoting my business, just to see if it’s necessary or not,” be advised that many have tried. Most have found themselves using “For Sale” advertising to sell their failed business.

We believe in a strong, multi-channel media mix for our clients. Often that includes a digital campaign supported by traditional media. Sometimes it may be just digital and other times traditional only. It depends on the marketing objectives. We always recommend starting with clear-eyed goal setting: “What exactly are we trying to accomplish?” An actionable budget comes from a solid plan, which will flow naturally from the answer to that important question. A good agency can help facilitate your planning and budgeting process, even on a shoestring.