FIRM LEADERSHIP: PLANNING & BUDGETING

Nancy Myrland All Posts, Marketing Strategy 4 Comments


ecommerceIn yesterday’s blog post, I implored you to stop sending your marketers on a wild goose chase to find out what percent of revenue other firms are spending on their marketing and business development budgets.

If you haven’t read it yet, I invite you to please take a moment to…it won’t take long.

Go ahead, I’ll be here when you get back.

Now that you know how I feel about creating a budget that is reflective of your situation, and not that of who knows how many other firms who don’t share your situation, let’s get down to business.

What should you take in to consideration when creating your marketing and business development budgets and plans?

If you’ve never done so before, I want you to consider creating a zero-based budget, or one that starts with $0, and is built from the ground up, not from last year’s budget with a % increase or decrease.  I was weaned on this type of budget in my Time Warner days.  Trust me, if I was doing it at Time Warner in the 90s, your clients are doing it too.

Just because I, or your clients, have created budgets this way doesn’t necessarily make the case for you doing so too.  The reason it makes sense is that it causes everyone in the firm who is responsible for planning and spending to be strategic in their request for funds.  It ensures a budget based on reality, on planning, on your clients, on your staff and on what you need to get done to reach your goals.

Doing this at least once will help make next year’s budget much easier to create.  It will also make your business activity more logical, easy to stick to, easier when considering pop-up marketing requests, and will help everyone understand what the firm is doing and where it is going.

It should be built upon several factors including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Your goals
  • Your clients
  • Each market where you do business
  • Each market where you want to do business
  • How much growth you want in each industry, client and market sector
  • What is happening in each of these sectors that could influence your clients
  • The messages and activities that will help you listen and talk to these sectors
  • The services and, these days, products you offer
  • The impact you’d like to make in each community you serve from a service point of view
  • What you need to do to your staffing model, both professional and administrative, to accomplish these goals
  • What research, both qualitative and quantitative, you need to conduct to make sure you have a baseline from which to measure all of the above activity.

Again, this isn’t an exhaustive list of what should be factored in to your planning and budgeting process.  My goal is to give you an idea what a healthy planning process might look like, depending on your firm, your culture, your leadership, your clients and several other markers that are unique to you.

You owe it to yourselves to create plans and budgets that serve your firm’s and your clients’ needs, and what you intend to accomplish. Why would you skip these important steps when they are the blueprint for your business, not to mention a blueprint for satisfying your clients’ goals, issues and challenges?

Abandon the quest to compare your budget to other firms.  It’s an artificial, incomplete measurement of what is needed to identify what is right for your firm.  Measure regularly, then adjust as needed.  Your budget should be what is most important to your firm, no one else’s.

Your thoughts?

As always, if I can answer any questions, or be of service to you, please don’t hesitate to ask for help.

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4 comments
Robin Reeder
Robin Reeder

Nancy - agreed - $0 based budgeting is an excellent tool to focus teams, re-check your tactical success and weakness, and add credibility to marketing strategy and planning.

Brian Nash
Brian Nash

Nice post and advice, Nancy. Always an issue for any firm. I do check my quarterly and end-of-year numbers to compare how I'm doing compared to prior years and then try to analyse ROI for what I'm doing and what I've changed. That being said, I like the concepts you promote in this blog. It takes time to do the analysis you suggest, but in the long run, it is an immeasurable and worthwhile time SAVER.

Thanks for the great post
Brian

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Thanks Robin. Yes, it is our responsibility as marketers and managers to develop plans and budgets that have substance, and come from a process that is fully developed through the process you and describe. Thanks again for stopping by.

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Hi Brian. Yes, it does take time, but you hit the nail on the head. It ends up being a time saver because it helps us become focused on the tasks at hand, as well as our clients. Thanks, as always, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.