Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How Do You Prefer Your Budget Hat: Fitted or Adjustable?

As a marketing director I wear a number of hats. The one that seems to fit best is the creative, brainstorming, idea hat. However, I also get to wear a customer service hat every now and then that's pretty comfy. There are times when my personnel/HR hat gets pulled down off the shelf, and there are a number of others for development, education, and PR to name a few.

The one I am most challenged with is the budget hat. That hat would probably be a visor or something else I don't enjoy wearing like a beanie with a propeller. Anywho, this post isn't about wearing a gazillion hats, as most of us do that and do it to the best of our abilities. What I want to talk about is the challenge of budgeting for marketing.

While a great marketing plan starts with a budget, it seems that economics, the unknown, and poor performance can all influence changes in the marketing budget. Each industry has different benchmarks for budgeting their marketing dollars. In the apartment industry the National Apartment Association actually takes a survey across the nation to measure average income and expenses. While this is an average and somewhat of a benchmark for economics in our industry, I have to ask what people are really spending and how they justify their expenses? How many of you set a marketing budget for the year and stick to it? Do you even have a budget or a plan?

We're all trying to save money, but how do you and your company wrap your arms around what is spent on marketing? I'm not asking this for my industry specific, but I'm curious what analytics marketers are using. I'd love to hear feedback for you and your industry as many are finalizing budgets for 2009 and cringing at the outlook of the economy. What drives your marketing budget decisions and sets the expectations for ROI?
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