As a small or midsize business (SMB) in the early stages of creating your marketing plan for 2019, it’s crucial that your planning process include creating a marketing budget. You won’t get very far planning campaigns that you ultimately can’t afford, so you need to be budgeting now for the coming year.
To create a marketing plan for the coming year, you need a clear, realistic idea of key budgetary concerns—including personnel, technology/software requirements, campaign costs, and unforeseen expenditures.
Our marketing budget template will help you get things started, but before you download it and get to work, you need to know what to do with all the numbers it’ll throw at you.
Whether this is your first marketing budget or your 30th, it’s a good idea to double check that you know the best way to estimate your costs!
3 things to know before using a marketing budget template
1. What hard costs are
The “hard costs” in your marketing budget are expenditures that go toward tangible assets. These include:
- Marketing department salaries: Your team’s collective salary will likely be your single greatest cost and should be the first thing that you consider when planning your 2019 marketing budget. If you plan to expand your department and hire more personnel during the coming year, you need to account for that in your budget, as well.
- Marketing software/technology licensing and costs: Since marketing relies on technology to succeed, you’re likely already using some form of marketing automation software or are in the middle of choosing the right system. Estimate the cost of licensing that software for your entire team, as well as any complementary hardware you need to purchase or maintain. Keep in mind that if you’re thinking of purchasing an additional/added-on specialty system—such as marketing analytics software, email marketing software, or social media marketing software—you’ll need to budget in those licensing fees (plus any additional onboarding/implementation costs).
- Additional marketing hard costs: You should also account for other tangible assets you may spend money on over the course of the year, ranging from paying for content created by freelance writers to costs associated with sending your team to trade shows and conferences.
2. What multifaceted campaign costs look like
If your 2019 marketing plan is focused on growth marketing (as it should be), you’ll need to account for multifaceted campaigns that will reach customers across all stages of the sales funnel.
Rather than creating your budget around individual channels, focus on the number of campaigns you plan to run, and expect to roll out each campaign over most (or all) of the following channels:
- Pay-per-click (PPC) ads on search engines such as Google or Bing.
- Social media advertising (including promoted posts).
- Traditional advertisements (newspaper, radio, or TV).
- Any search engine optimization (SEO) efforts that may cost additional money.
- Surveys to determine the relative success of your campaigns.
3. Why you need to expect—and plan for—the unexpected
No projected budget, no matter how perfect, will account for everything your marketing department will need over the coming year. You’ll almost certainly find yourself facing unexpected expenditures, which can include:
- Recruiting efforts to replace any departing employees over the coming year.
- New software/technology solutions for problems that arise as older systems become out-of-date.
- An increase in rates for a particular campaign channel.
- Costs associated with going to a conference or trade show you hadn’t planned to attend.
The hard part about budgeting for unexpected costs is that you can’t actually plan for them. What you can plan for, though, is a certain amount of “the unexpected,” and build that into your budget.
In particular, look back at your budgets for the past few years and see what costs you overran and what unexpected expenses you had to cover. At the bare minimum, make sure you bake that extra amount into your 2019 budget.
Next, total your hard costs and campaign costs, then calculate 25% of that total and add at least that much to your budget to give you a solid buffer for unexpected costs.
This amount can be negotiated with higher-ups in your company, but it’s important to make them realize that you must allocate a significant amount of your budget toward handling matters that you simply can’t plan for. Your budget won’t matter much if you have to throw it out the window to accommodate the unexpected.
Take this marketing budget template and run with it
In addition to filling out your own, unique marketing budget template (you can print out the one below, or download an editable PDF here), here are some actions to take to plan for 2019:
- Research marketing software: Read marketing planning software reviews here, and consider investing in technology that will help you become more of an expert at planning out your campaigns (and your budget by default).
- Learn more about budgeting: Check out this helpful article that will teach you more about creating a marketing budget, including how to account for peaks and seasonality.
- Ask questions of your peers: Comment below to connect with other marketing professionals, experts, and thought leaders so you can learn from their hard-won experience!
Looking for Budgeting software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Budgeting software solutions.