The Bottomless Pit of Marketing and Advertising Budgets


The Bottomless Pit of Marketing and Advertising Budgets

How much did you spend on advertising/marketing in the last financial year? Were you happy with the results? No? Have you ever reviewed and analysed your past year’s spend to help you get better results in 2017/2018?

Here is one BIG mistake most small business marketers make that causes them to lose potential profits, or worse, fail:

They don’t create a simple 12-month marketing plan and budget.

Most small business owners I know ‘impulse purchase’ their advertising, marketing and public relations activities. Very often there’s very little thought or time invested in developing a strategy.

Marketing plans and marketing budgets are not set in stone. Just because you write one doesn’t mean you must follow it to the letter. It is meant to be a guide.

What it does provide you with is something to use to compare any new proposals against. A ‘line in the sand’. It gives you a valid reason to say no to the media rep, “Sorry, it’s not in the plan.”

Where to start?

Start your next DRAFT plan by writing down everything you’ve done in the last 12 months including how much you really spent. Don’t leave anything out; even if it makes you cringe to think about how much spent. Write it all down.

Honest self-evaluation is the only way to help yourself not repeat your mistakes.

Once you’ve bared your soul to yourself, analyse results line by line:

  • Put a BIG tick against what worked well. Keep it on the list.
  • Put a COLOURFUL question mark against what worked okay – you know you could do better.
  • Cull what truly didn’t work at all – put a BIG cross against it…better still draw a line right through it.
  • Fill in the gaps – talk to successful colleagues and find out what worked for them. Create a scrap book of ideas you’ve seen that you’d like to try.

That’s your starting point.

Some marketers may say this is a lacks-a-daisy way to create a marketing plan. Don’t worry about that. Even the best laid plans, if not well executed will be a waste of time and energy.

An engaging and passionate skeleton of a plan with flexibility to move, executed with finesse will perform much better than no plan.

Make a commitment to do one ‘marketing’ activity every day. It will inspire and motivate you. The building momentum is what will keep you going to smash through and make a difference.
What’s the next step?

The budget.

Review last year’s expenses against each event/activity. Can you achieve the same outcome with less funds or resources? Do you need to invest a little more in some areas to achieve more profit? What can you do with the money you’ve saved on the items you culled? Do you need to spend more, do more or just focus on getting more excited and enthusiastic for better results from a repeat of the campaigns that worked well?


You can vary the activities, but there are some things you should be consistent about:

  • Social media – choose your social media platforms based on where your customers are and then be consistent in posting.
  • Customer service – shoppers like consistency in service. Be sure you provide the same level of service every time regardless of the type of business you are in. Don’t be like the motor vehicle mechanic who washes your car ‘if time permits’. Be consistent. Either wash the car or don’t wash the car – every time. If you are a coffee shop, provide a little chocolate or biscuit on the saucer with coffee or don’t provide it every time.
  • Store presentation – clean, tidy and appealing. Create a welcoming atmosphere. Pique the interest of passing traffic and internal customers with appealing store presentation, caring personalities, friendly smiles and genuinely helpful service.
  • Consistent branding – analyse the consistency across the diversity of business types someone like Richard Branson is involved to better understand the value of consistency in branding.

Create detailed marketing activity action plans.

Create detailed marketing action plans for every major activity from daily routines to major event planning and use it. I always get more done when I create a list. It helps me remember what needs to be done and clears my head. Write it down so you don’t forget.

In summary, a plan built on past success is better than no plan. Starting with an analysis of what you did last year is as good a starting point as any.

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