No matter what your business does, or what type of marketing you’re investing in, setting a realistic and affordable budget that also promises significant ROI can be a be a bit of a bugbear.
First of all, large marketing budgets can be a difficult pill to swallow for key stakeholders who may not be familiar with marketing, and therefore struggle with the initial outlay of cash and the delayed profit. However, it’s important to remember that every penny you spend on marketing is a seed planted for future revenue, especially when it comes to print marketing and advertising – which traditionally has a slower burn than digital in terms of converting to sales.
In this blogpost, we’ll be talking you through some fail-safe methods to help you work out what your print marketing budget should be, plus some handy tips to help make sure you stick to it.
The amount you set aside for your marketing will affect everything about the process, end product and ROI. From the paper quality of your direct mail piece to the size of your ad in the local newspaper, it’s crucial to make sure your budget aligns with your goals and expectations. So how can you make sure you’re setting aside the right amount? A general rule of thumb is that 10-20% of the projected revenues of your company should be dedicated to marketing – but this won’t work for everyone. Here are some quick tips to help you set the right budget for your business:
Here at Clever Marketing, we stress time and time again the importance of keeping one eye on your competitors. While it’s equally essential to focus on your own activity and growing your business, checking out what your direct competitors are doing once in a while will help you get some perspective, garner fresh ideas and renew your drive. Plus, if they are roughly the same size and have a similar turnover to your business, there’s no harm in using their marketing budget as a rough guide for your own.
You can find out a good idea of your competition’s budget by keeping a note of all of their print activity, from newspaper ads to flyers. Sign up for their mailings (you should be doing this anyway), and ask your agencies for a quote to have the same things made. You’ll soon get a pretty good idea of their overall expenditure.
We know you’re busy. Which often means that at the end of one marketing campaign, you have to move straight on to the next one, with no time in between to take a step back and figure out what worked and what didn’t.
However, this is such a worthwhile and valuable part of the process that you can’t afford to keep missing it out. If you’re an established business, take a look at last year’s print marketing budget and ask yourself the following questions: did we achieve everything we wanted to with this budget? Were there any opportunities we missed out on due to insufficient funds? Which publications returned the highest ROI, and which ones turned out to be duds? By learning from past mistakes you’ll have the insight needed to set an appropriate budget. Just make sure to keep note of any changes in your business, or the competitive environment, such as hikes in your chosen agency’s fees. The commercial world moves quickly, so there’s no justification for setting a certain budget because “that’s what it’s always been”.
So, you’ve settled on your budget, you’ve got a strong and lean print marketing strategy in place, and your stakeholders are happy. Congratulations – you’re starting off on the right foot.
However, this is only half of the job done: you actually need to stick to said budget to ensure you maximise its potential. As the year goes on and you get caught up in the heat of tight deadlines or sky-high targets, this can be easier said than done, resulting in overspend and loss of revenue. Here’s some tips to help you stay on track.
Split it out. When everyone involved is clear on how much of the budget is allocated to which particular channels or functions, you’re much less likely to overspend in any one area. Allocate a certain amount to purchasing of advertising space and media, another sum for design and creative, and another for tasks, such as salaries, printing and agency fees. Being up front about how your budget is segmented, and revisiting it throughout the year, will help ensure you stick to your original figure.
Analyse cost vs. benefit. Once your marketing strategy is decided, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily set in stone. If you discover something isn’t working and the costs are outweighing the benefits, there’s nothing to stop you re-evaluating your tactics.
Constantly measuring the success of your marketing efforts, making sure no extras costs have slipped in and stripping out any redundant or outdated expenditure will help to keep your outgoings as streamlined as possible.
Continually evaluate suppliers. Just as you’ll want to keep assessing your own strategies, it’s also helpful to keep an eye on any rising agency or supplier costs, and keep your options open. You might need to switch media buying agency, for example, or bring your freelance design work in-house.
Version control. Unlike digital marketing, once you’ve sent your flyer, direct mailer or newspaper ad to the printers, it’s final. There’s no taking it back. No wonder there always seems to be hundreds of versions flying around at certain points in the process to ensure perfection.
Streamline your print production process with cloud-based software, such as Web2Print, that keeps all collateral and versions in one place. This gives you an easy view of all changes, charges and expenditure at all times, minimising versions and the associated costs.
How do you set your print marketing budget? Do you find it difficult to stick to? Share your tips in the comments below.