Blow up the traditional view to create a budget that adds value to your business

If you are like most sales and marketing people or part of the management team that leads the annual budgeting process, you have likely already engaged in “budgeting” for 2019. Unless you are an accounting type or love spreadsheets, I know of few people who really enjoy this process. If you are a marketer or responsible for the marketing budget, you enjoy it even less because marketing is the most harshly judged and smallest percentage of an overall budget. I personally still have post traumatic syndrome associated with trying to defend a marketing budget in my last tech company job.

Here are three reasons why defending a marketing budget in any organization is such a hard job:

  1. Marketing is viewed as a cost centre instead of a strategic growth tool by most management teams.
  2. Marketing budgets are approached as “buying attention” instead of measuring the results of creating engagement.
  3. Marketers generally do a poor job of tying their budgets to business results, therefore management teams are confused about the outcome of investment.

A wise marketer, Mr. Seth Godin, in his latest book, This is Marketing, ascertains that marketing is something everyone in your organization is doing today. “Marketing used to be advertising. Now, marketing is everything you do. And what you do either adds to the customer experience or takes away from it.”

If you apply this lens to your marketing budget, then you need to focus on the work you need to do in educating the customer and how you support their journey of buying from you.

Creating the right marketing budget for your organization.

First off, you need to set the stage for the objective of marketing. Any marketer worth their salt, needs to be a change agent on this subject. In today’s 24/7 internet world, “the internet feels like a vast, free media playground, a place where all your ideas deserve to be seen by just about everyone.” In fact, the internet and digital marketing in general is exactly the opposite. The point of marketing today is not to mass market or even create “permission.” The goal of marketing today is the “generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem,” says Seth Godin.

When viewed with this lens, the first thing you should be doing when assessing a marketing budget is to look at all the things you spend money on today and decide if the goal of the exercise is to mass market or help someone solve their problem. Are you buying “eyeballs” hope they respond to your offer or are you truly creating content your customer or prospect values because its about them not you.

Rethinking the Marketing Budget

Typical B2B Budget Allocations

Rethinking the Purpose of the Activity

Measuring Success


What investment do you make annually to create a good sales experience for your customer? Hint: It should be equivalent to the salary of a sales rep given the heavy lifting it does at the front end of the sales process.

To test the power of a company’s value proposition and measure content success with specific buyer personas
  • Visits per month
  • Pages visited, time on page and types of content consumed
  • Interaction with the site eg: downloads, blog consumption, form completion, etc.
  • Content shared from site
  • Visitors that will be tracked and measured against sales pipeline
Content Development

Do you work hard at content guides the buyer through the sales process or do you just post product detail. Content matters – what are you willing to spend to support your prospective customers?

To create a guided path on a company’s web presence and test the stage in the buyer journey
  • Interaction with content in various online locations, the engagement and sharing of the content
  • The attribution of various pieces of content and its engagement against stage in the sales pipeline
Social Media/PR

Social Media is not free – it requires time, money and resources and doesn’t just happen.

To create awareness of a company’s value proposition and web presence
  • Strength of the message in driving engaged traffic back to the website or chosen conversion points
Email Marketing

Batch and blasting is over. Engagement is the only things that matters so what is the real cost of creating an email program that people want to receive?

Create click through to the website or landing pages
  • Growth of list and value of the participant to the sales cycle (buying now, later or never and how this gets tracked in CRM)
  • Ability of email sends to create engagement with content

Paying for eyeballs is like tossing $20 bills out the window when driving down the highway. But finding people who meet your buyer profile to engage with your content is worth it.

To test content and conversion points to understand quality of web traffic
  • Quality of leads and the engagement level this creates should be the measure of success, not # of eyeballs.

Often the most expensive line item on a B2B marketing budget because “we have to be there,” this item is costly and often not worthwhile if not tracked and mapped back to your online strategy correctly.

Test value proposition face-to-face and make connections in an industry
  • Number of engaged participants that went back to a landing page or were added to the email list
  • Number of people that were interested in entering the sales cycle
  • Relevant content that was tested as part of the interactions
Embroidered Golf Shirts

Where do I start?

  • Were they found the following year at Goodwill
A Marketer’s Salary

Whether you choose to hire in-house or outsource this function to a team of experienced marketers, this needs to a function in your business regardless of your size or market. The only thing that matters in a business today is marketing and innovation – the rest is cost.

To be a champion for the buyer of useful content and to be a successful project manager to keep the organization engaged in relevant and useful marketing activity
  • Number of quality marketing generated leads and marketing supported leads added to the sales pipeline
  • A clear picture of where quality leads came from and how adding marketing tactics that performed will create more of them the following year


If you are marketer today (EVERYONE TODAY IS IN MARKETING) and you aren’t lobbying for a budget to develop good content, a strong web presence and tools to track and measure quality leads in the pipeline, then you are likely creating a budget that has a good chance of getting axed when times are tough.

Marketing and marketers need to be Architects of Growth, not as cost centers. To do this means having a solid understanding of the market you serve and the content buyers’ value when making a purchasing decision. This is how you flip the budgeting process on its head and take control of the ask you are making of senior management.

We have two useful guides to help you with the budgeting exercise. One is a digital marketing analysis that you can check yes/no to understand what you need to execute inbound marketing in today’s uber-competitive market. The second is a guide to help with better goal setting in your marketing function. It’s hard to make a case for marketing dollars if you can’t tie it back to business goals.

Hope this helps – Happy Marketing in 2019!