Spend for Your Goals, Not Your Budget

By Hector Pantazopoulos

Marketing budgets have always been difficult to receive and maintain, but it may be time for marketers to take a closer look into how they are actually being spent. Common practice dictates that media budgets are both granted and spent around the beginning of the year.

From there, campaigns and other promotional means occur periodically throughout the year until the cycle repeats itself the next January. Marketers insert the entirety of their digital advertising budgets into Google or Amazon's ad services, to ensure that they utilize the full extent of their resources. However, is this process allowing you to reach or exceed your marketing goals?

Finding Your Objectives

What makes a good goal? Rather than focusing on budgetary constraints, consider creating performance goals that are realistic but flexible. The budget you have should be able to increase or decrease along with your goals. The ideal place to be is where your campaign spend is exhausted, but you are hitting your goals.

Monitor your campaigns. The digital world offers near instantaneous-access to information that can help you to optimize your campaign even within its implementation. For example, if a proposed ad is driving greater conversions than expected from one particular publisher, the budget might be able to flex to allow for more ad spend on that website.

Conversely, funding can be pulled and rerouted away from areas that are not delivering optimal performance. By putting a greater emphasis on monitoring and optimizing their campaigns in the field, marketers can retain greater control and pivot in order to meet their goals.

Goal-spending can work for performance or branding campaigns. Even if your brand is looking to raise more awareness, there should be measurable KPIs in place. You can track data like brand lift, increases in searches and other site metrics.

Consider a campaign beyond its initial goal. If you are meeting your objectives, why not turn the campaign into an even greater success story? The end of your budget should not necessarily mean the end of your campaign. Allocating additional funds can bring even greater long-term rewards to your campaign and your business.

Convincing Your Bosses

Spending based on your marketing goals may sound all well and good, up until it's time for the inevitable budget meeting with your boss. After all, it can feel difficult enough to get the funding you or your team already do receive — asking for budget flexibility can feel even more daunting.

However, most marketers are aware that upper-management speaks in numbers and tangible results. When looking to present goal-based spending to your bosses, it's important to do your homework and make sure that you have your data points in order. Take a good look at any data from previous campaigns, and pinpoint successes, benefits, and growth opportunities.

For example, 2020 research from the Journal of Marketing indicates that satisfied customers are more receptive to future marketing, resulting in a 3 percent increase in future spending. Lean into the idea that "the numbers don't lie" and consider outlining an initial campaign that otherwise fits within your standard budget. If your numbers come out evenly, it is worth taking the opportunity to make your case.

This is also where your marketing goals come further into play. Goals that succinctly and clearly align with your business' core philosophy and strategies will be easier to advocate for. This is particularly important for branding campaigns, where CFOs and other business leaders can be especially hesitant. Creating a full-funnel approach can mitigate some of these concerns, by hedging your bets in both the short and long-term spheres.

Collaboration Is Key

Moving forwards, it can be beneficial to cultivate an ongoing relationship between marketers and other business leaders. By allowing for more buy-in from across departments, marketing's value as an ongoing investment can be more easily translated.

Goal-spending may initially go against the status-quo, but when goals are being met and exceeded, your brand is sure to experience growth and benefits that will extend across the business itself. So, gather your research, get your numbers in order and prepare to enter a new phase in your marketing strategy.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Hector Pantazopoulos is the co-founder and CRO of SourceKnowledge.