Last year around this time, we wrote one of our most popular eBooks: B2B Marketing Budgeting & Planning for CEOS: Preparing for New Investments.
In it, we cover a broad range of areas you need to know to build your marketing budget, but as budgeting time approaches this year, we wanted to add in the answers to two pretty critical questions:
We’ll address these questions in this blog post because timing and resources are arguably the most critical elements in the B2B marketing budgeting process. Too often, we see organizations start budgeting or getting their teams in order too late, starting the new year off with a lag and ultimately missing out on potential revenue.
Based on helping dozens of clients develop and manage their marketing budgets, below are our recommendations.
Most small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) should start the B2B marketing budgeting process approximately four months before the start of the next year—whether that’s fiscal or calendar year. When allocating budget dollars, many SMEs should also be doing their due diligence to determine what worked well this year and what to focus on in the coming year, and doing that analysis the right way takes time.
Budgeting can be an arduous process as it parallels with so many important strategic decisions, so once it’s done, marketing teams often breathe a hard-earned sigh of relief. The budget and plan are finally in place for next year, and they can get a running start in January.
But therein lies the problem.
When you kick things off in January, you’re not going to see any real results until February or March (or later, depending on lead development and sales cycles). If you want to reach (and exceed) your goals for next year, you really need to start new program execution in Q4.
Regardless of your marketing goals—whether you’re looking to penetrate new markets, rebrand, ramp up your content marketing, or something else—you need some runway to get things set up.
The secret: Take advantage of leftover budget for this year and get started on your marketing plan now. Best case scenario: the work you’re doing to prepare for January will positively impact Q4.
Considering hiring in-house? Read this:
If part of your B2B marketing budgeting strategy includes hiring new in-house marketers, it’s critical to understand what you need them to do before they are hired. This is difficult for organizations that don’t have marketing expertise in-house, but it can make or break the success of your new hires.
Take, for example, a company that hires a Director of Marketing to help grow their business. They already have a junior marketer in-house, so this person will take on marketing strategy for the firm.
What kind of expertise should this new person have? Channel marketing? Content strategy? SEO? PR? Social media? Industry or vertical expertise? No marketer can have expertise in all marketing domains, especially given how diverse marketing is these days. In order to determine who you need to hire, you need to develop your marketing strategy and plan first. If you don’t have that expertise on your internal team, hire a marketing firm to help you create one.
Some agencies offer B2B marketing budgeting and planning support. When we work with new clients that don’t yet have a robust marketing function in-house, we often start engagements with our marketing assessment and plan. In a matter of weeks (not months), you receive an analysis of your market, competitors, and performance – a marketing plan tailored to your specific growth objectives, along with broader growth-oriented findings and recommendations.
Involving an agency before you hire someone can help you pinpoint exactly who you need to hire. (Agencies may even have someone in their network that fits the bill.) A full-service agency can support you with implementation and execution as well as the right plan, so you may find you don’t need to hire someone in-house at all, that the person doesn’t have to be as senior as you envisioned, or that you can take your time to find the right hire while the agency can bridge immediate execution needs.
Considering hiring an agency? Read this:
If you’re thinking of going the in-house route because it’s cheaper, you may want to reconsider. The cost of your new marketer and the team they need to assemble to get it all done (web developer, designer, content writer, PR specialist, etc.) can easily add up to $17K+ per month, and in all likelihood, you still won’t have all the domain expertise you need to market effectively.
If you want to hire an agency to kick off in January, remember that they will want to do an analysis of your current efforts and your market before they begin. Assessments may take between three and six weeks (or more, depending on the agency), and then you’ll have to wait another one to two months to start seeing results from marketing programs.
The secret: Enlist an agency’s help in Q4 to help you identify the profile for the best in-house hire for your needs, vet potential candidates, or begin executing against them marketing plan so that you have a running start next year.
For more on whether an agency, in-house, or blended team is for you, read our blog called “Outsource, Hire or Blend: Deciding on the Right Marketing Org Structure.”
These tried-and-true secrets have changed the way many organizations think about the B2B marketing budgeting process. They no longer create a budget and a plan and wait months to begin seeing them through. Instead, they use budgeting as a springboard to enable sales, drive growth, and generate leads in Q4—and have a spectacular kickoff to next year.
Need help budgeting, strategizing, or building your team? Start with our Rapid Marketing Assessment & Plan to analyze your company goals, help you establish your marketing priorities, and get the best people in place to drive growth for your business.