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10 Tips for managing your Marketing Budget in 2024

Controlling marketing budgets can be a challenge for businesses of all sizes.

While marketing is essential for building brand awareness, attracting customers, and driving sales, if you're not careful it can also eat up a significant portion of your marketing budget.

However, with the right strategies in place, it's possible to effectively manage your marketing spend and maximise your return on investment.

In this article we look at the top ten tips for managing your marketing budget.

Top Ten Tips for Managing your marketing budgets

    One of the most common ways to blow your marketing budget is through scope creep. Scope creep occurs when a project changes scope whilst you are working on it it. This commonly happens with design and marketing agencies if the projects aren't managed well.

    Much of it comes down to managing time – yours, and your marcomms agency. We are a time-based business – we allocate time to projects. If we can manage that time, then your projects will stay within scope and can fall in line with your marketing budget. However, if the project changes scope (eg. changing content, direction, too many revisions) then that time exceeds the original estimate and your project will cost you more.

    In this article, we'll provide you with 10 tips for controlling your marketing budget and making the most of your marketing efforts.

    From setting clear goals and tracking your results to choosing the right channels and leveraging technology, these tips will help you stay within your budget while achieving your marketing objectives.

    1. Know what you want

    We understand that it’s tempting to see the design first and then figure it out. However, this means more time, which impacts costs. It's important you spend enough time preparing for your project before reaching out to your agency partners. This includes

    • Goals:
      Know exactly what you want to achieve. A vague goal will have a vague outcome.
    • Audience:
      Define the audience your marketing initiative is aimed at. Everything you do should be customer-focused and bring value to them. Without knowing who they are and what they need, you're likely to miss the mark.
    • Channels: 
      Look at the channels you are using. Are they correct for your audience? An investor report won't be distributed via TikTok. And you don't need a 40-page brochure designed for a short internal memo.
    • Outcomes:
      Decide on what defines success for your project, and give it a measurable outcome. You should be able to know if your marketing initiatives are bringing you a return and are a useful implementation of your budget.

    An example of knowing what you want

    Let's look at an example. Let's say you are a financial services company and you have a new investment product you want to sell.

    Goal: To educate my potential investment buyer and give them the information they need to make a purchasing decision

    Audience: An IFA (Independent Financial Advisor). This person understands the technical terms behind my product so I can use the correct language without fear of confusing them.

    Channel: A PDF brochure with a little teaser video sent in WhatsApp. They use a desktop computer so can read PDFS, but they also like to print out the brochure for their client. So we need to make sure it' fits an A4 printer and doesn't use too  much ink up. I've got them on WhatsApp, so a cool little graphic or video (low size) will whet their appetite to go to their email and read the product brochure.

    Outcome: My goal is to sell my investment product. As only the people who see this brochure can sell it, I can judge if I've given them the correct information by if they sell it. If they don't, I need to find out why not. I can send my brochure to them via an automated email software so I can track if they open it.

    If you’re uncertain about exactly what you want, schedule a discovery meeting with us and we can assist you with planning your project in line with your marketing budget. You’ll save more in the long run with a well-planned-out project.

    2. Write a clear design brief

    Avoid room for error by giving us a clear brief. A good brief outlines your exact requirements and minimises the opportunity for error or for missing your goals.

    If you are unsure about something, bring it up early so we can look at your options and solutions and avoid spending extra time, back and forth.

    Read here about how to write a good design brief.

    3. Make sure your content is correct

    Have your content finalised before sending it over to your designers as it is then designed according to what you supply.

    This is then proofread; designed, typeset and formatted to create your marketing collateral.

    Making changes after we’ve done the design, incurs extra time and has a knock-on effect.

    Make sure everyone in your team who is going to have a say in it, is happy and signs it off before sending it to your agency.

    Click here for some quick tips to ensure your copy is correct.

    Marketing budget article

    The key to controlling your marketing budget lies in the preparation

    4. Supply your content in the correct formats

    It can add more time to your project if we have to retype articles and text, or if we have to find a very specific image to match one you found on Google (and remember you need to have the rights to use the images).

    You can avoid extra time (and therefore cost) by sending through text which we can copy and paste. A screenshot from PowerPoint has to be retyped so ask your colleagues for the original. Ensure that your content is collated and in the correct order.

    Finding specific images is very time-consuming.  Keeping your image requirements broad can allow for quicker image searches. If you work for a company that has brand guidelines with image requirements, remember these are critical when choosing images.

    5. Schedule your projects with enough time

    If you leave your projects to the last minute, they may have to scheduled in with rush fees.

    What is a rush fee? If we have to do the work with a faster than average turnaround, reschedule other projects to different team members, reprioritise other deadlines, work late or overtime, then your project is subject to rush fees.

    We'd like to avoid this! Rush projects don't only have an impact on your budget, they also impact the quality of the project. Inevitably, if there was ever a time that a project has an error, it's when it's rushed. This can have a double impact on your marketing budget if you need to redo the project due to errors.

    So, unless it really is a rush, allow the right amount of time for your project. In addition, remember that unless you have a dedicated designer on our team with block-booked time, you will need to be scheduled in.

    Do you struggle with scheduling? Chat to our team about a scheduling workshop and we'll help you get on top of it!

    6. Avoid scope changes

    Be cautious about changing the scope after your project has started. You may have originally decided on a one-page website or a 60-second video, but then decided that you need to add more pages, or do two 30-second videos.

    Changing the scope of the project means it needs to be re-evaluated. Sometimes changing scope doesn’t affect our time, but other times it does. You can read more about avoiding scope creep and hidden costs here.

    7. Do you actually need it editable?

    Very often we'll create a design only to be asked for the editable files.  It's important to understand why you need them and if you really do.

    • Software compatibility:
      We use professional design software like Adobe Creative Suite. Using the correct software for your project type ensures the best outcome for your project. It's not a simple conversion to Word or PowerPoint and there are glitches in the process which affect the outcome, and the time required to convert it and fix it up after.
    • Quality:
      We can design certain projects in editable documents such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint but it does have an impact on the design capacity, as Word is not a design software. There definitely is need for documents to be in Word, but it's worth judging when and weighing up form vs functionality.
    • Speed:
      Traditional editable software is secondary software for us – so we work faster in our normal apps. We'll work faster in our design apps.

    8. Limit your revisions

    Each time we have to open the document and make revisions, it’s incurring time. Which then impacts your marketing budget. If content or images are changed, then the rest of the document/video, etc. may then need to be reflowed accordingly.

    So, what may seem like a quick change to you, could have serious time consequences and affect your marketing budget. Refer back to Point 3 and try to have your content correct before sending it to your design team.

    9. Be decisive

    Limit the number of decision-makers on your team.

    The more decision-makers, the more time the project will take and the higher the cost of it.

    Make fair, professional decisions based on your target consumer and not on your personal preference, and then stick with those decisions.

    10. Trust your design and marketing team

    Design is subjective. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out personal likes and what your target market likes. Trust your design team – collectively we’ve been doing this for close to 150 years!

    By the time you see your design, we’ve considered imagery, typestyles, placement, formatting and design elements.

    We always welcome collaborative input but remember that if we are to interpret your exact design whilst still maintaining the correct technical and design principle standards, this is where time can stack up.

    Our biggest tip for managing your marketing budget?

    Put the time into planning your project well at the beginning. It will ave us both time, and save your marketing budget.