When should you revisit your budget assumptions?
I recommend you do this at each mid-quarter. By that point in time, your quarterly initiatives are well under way, you are financially committed for the remaining of the quarter and you should start turning the corner on the following 90 days. But don’t turn the corner too fast. Strategic planning is critical, but it’s based on a point in time. You might have developed a great plan for 2011 in Q4 of 2010, but you should reassess your assumptions – hence the term “tune-up.”
3-steps to tune-up your marketing budget:
1. First, the environment might have shifted, either allowing you more opportunities or creating new threats. Capitalize on new market opportunities that have arisen since your plan was created. Or minimize your threats, including those prompted by your competition.
2. Second, ensure that all strategically critical initiatives are well funded. Use freed budget from your first step to add fire power to these programs/tactics. Don’t settle for the mediocre, go for the “WOW” factor.
3. Third, by now you may have the right metrics (quantitative or qualitative) to assess whether your programs are working or not. Immediately terminate projects that did not work or are no longer relevant. Also, after doing step 1 and 2, you should compare those needs versus what you had planned and make the tough trade-offs. These actions will free up cash/budget.
NOTE: One thing that always gets over looked in budget discussions is the human effort cost. Following these steps will help you prioritize your efforts and deliver higher quality, simultaneously. Don’t underestimate this, especially if you’re managing people, it’s as important as the financial aspect, if not more important in the long-term.
Try these steps and you’ll keep your marketing budget strategic and flexible!