As the founder of mbudo, and as a Marketing Director before that, I have been doing Marketing budget plans for almost 20 years. And I can affirm that the way of doing things has changed.
Like all things, Marketing has evolved with modern times, which means our Marketing departments and leaders also need to adapt to changes in business processes, market responses, and decision-making times. Long-gone are budgets made up of corporate events and mass advertising.
Fast-forward to an empowered customer and the rise of the Inbound Marketing methodology. Today, customers devote a considerable amount of time to research before starting the buying process.
According to CEB Marketing Leadership Council, 60% of the time, the purchase decision has already been made before a lead even speaks with a sales agent.
Thus, to have influence on customers, companies need to dedicate a larger portion of their Marketing budget plan to Inbound Marketing, which uses Buyer Personas and the Buyer's Journey to understand prospects and create valuable, non-instrusive content for them, no matter their situation.
How to create an Inbound Marketing budget plan
When it comes to implementing an Inbound Marketing strategy, all Marketing managers and directors have several big questions:
How do I prepare the Inbound Marketing budget?
What are the big accounts to go after?
Where and how should I distribute the money?
To answer these questions, it is essential to identify the core elements that make up an Inbound Marketing project and give them the appropriate weight and investment. My recommendations, from over 20 years of experience in Marketing - and as founder of the Inbound Marketing agency mbudo, can be found below:
1. Inbound Infrastructure
We need to have a digital framework that supports all the elements of our strategy, preferably on an all-in-one Marketing platform like HubSpot. You need:
- Landing pages
- Email Marketing
- Social media channels
It's also very important to have commercial processes ready. Integration with your CRM and smooth two-way communication with the Sales department is a big part of Inbound Marketing success.
2. Content for Inbound Marketing
Content is absolutely fundamental to the Inbound Marketing philosophy. HubSpot, leaders in Inbound, have even created an innovative new content strategy that focuses on topics rather than keywords.
Their strategy is simple: you have one broad, core topic (called a Pillar) that is connected through internal linking to other related topics in what is called a topic cluster. Search engines can better interpret the relationship between this content, causing the Pillar Page to rise in the rankings.
If you don't have enough internal resources to create a content strategy and start making blog posts and other pieces of content, you can count on freelancers or an agency like mbudo to produce quality content for you. Don't forget to make visual content like infographics, and to always be optimizing for SEO.
3. Online Visibility
Inbound also incorporates one essential element of Outbound Marketing in its strategy: Paid Search, most likely using Google Ads. With proper SEO, our content should show up where our Buyer Personas are searching, but rising in the rankings can take time.
Organic search should almost always be paired with Paid Search on search engines and social media. You can also consider Display campaigns or even native advertising.
4. Management and Automation
Your Inbound Marketing strategy will be heavily focused on content and the Buyer's Journey. But we can't forget to incorporate lead nurturing processes and Marketing Automation to follow-up with leads and guide them steadily - and naturally - towards the sale. All of this based on the behavior of prospects, of course.
Workflows, email nurturing, and chatbots are all helpful tools for automation, so your business can be working even when you're not.
5. Team Training
This is the most forgotten elements of a Marketing budget plan. You cannot forget about people - they are the ones who are going to create, implement, and innovate your strategy.
You must dedicate a portion of your budget to train the entire Marketing team, and the Sales team, if possible. Marketing and Sales alignment is crucial, and deep knowledge of strategy put into practice is fundamental to success.
Your Marketing budget will vary depending on the nature of the company, degree of maturity, growth, business objectives, etc. However, having a drawn-out budget plan is very important for your digital strategy and overall success.