Marketing Budgets: Small Business Owners Should Plan for Marketing Allocations in 2014

As the New Year approaches, small and local businesses in our area are busy pondering how they will best allocate their marketing spend for the following year.

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Common business-owner questions that come to mind as they plan ahead for a new marketing year include:

  • “How much should I allocate for digital and social media marketing?”
  • “What about offline, traditional marketing — what should I budget for these?”
  • “What marketing budget trends should I consider as I budget for 2014?”

As a small business marketing strategist, I work closely with business owners year after year to help them identify how to best plan for marketing investments throughout the year. And one of the marketing trends which continues to increase year after year, no matter the industry or business size, is the increasing proportion of marketing budget allocated towards digital and social media.

For years, I’ve been monitoring marketing budget trends and news with great scrutiny and, as far back as 2008, the size of traditional marketing budgets have continued to erode and lose dollars to digital and social media. Why? There are many reasons to list but the three primary reasons are, and continue to be:

  1. Digital and social media marketing and advertising tend to be far more cost-effective than traditional print marketing
  2. Digital and social media marketing and advertising are usually “measurable” and generate important metrics data (usage, visits, etc.) that can be tracked via analytics tools, such as Google Analytics
  3. More and more consumers, prospects and customers are using search, online reviews and social media to assist them during their buying decision process(es)

Keeping these factors in mind, small local businesses planning their marketing spend for 2014 should follow these simple tips to help them budget their marketing cents wisely:

Take marketing inventory!

Small business owners should carefully assess how they have spent their marketing dollars to date. What has worked or what hasn’t worked as well? Take stock of every penny allocated to marketing, break it down into helpful categories (e.g. “Paid Search Marketing,” “Email Marketing Campaigns,” etc.) to better visualize how much marketing budget is being spent and where.

Traditional vs. Digital?

The formula for traditional vs. digital and social media spend will vary greatly business to business. Your marketing inventory will help you determine where you are presently investing your marketing spend. If your SMB is already highly digital and lean in traditional, more than likely this marketing budget trend will continue on into 2014. If your business has a good blend of offline and online marketing activity, identify opportunities where perhaps some of your offline investments can be better streamlined with digital and social media if you are trying to lower your marketing expenses.

Planning for your SMBs 2014 marketing budget year is a very important task. Be sure to breakdown marketing and advertising categories as clearly and definitively as you can rather than lumping them into broad categories where you can’t or won’t be able to see important details and budget trends. And always remember to cushion for those unexpected marketing opportunities — such as tradeshows, events, seminars or special events — that will inevitably land on your lap throughout the year.