It’s not uncommon for me to hear marketers ask the question: how do I start building a marketing plan—and how do I know if the dollars I’m asking for are the right amount?


A better marketing plan starts with understanding your marketing metrics. By learning what’s working now, you can start to plan for campaign spending in the future. But first, you need to learn:

  • How to efficiently use your marketing spend
  • How to maximize your budget across multiple marketing channels and business segments
  • How to ensure stakeholders feel represented in your marketing plan.


I was fortunate to moderate a panel of savvy marketers at last week’s And Then Some Conference that focused on answering these questions. The panelists—Aimee Patton from Park University, Tonya Masters from Murphy-Hoffman Company, and Stephanie Ayers from SMG—shared their insights on creating marketing budgets based on data and analytics.


In an effort to capture what I learned, I am outlining the big takeaways and consistencies that I heard confirmed by our three panelists:


  1. Use the Guardrails: Understanding the Budget Framework

It is important to understand both appropriate timing and protocol as it relates to outlining budget and strategy recommendations. Strategizing may take place all year long, but in the 2-3 months prior to fiscal year end is when the final numbers, recommendations and formal presentations really come into play. Not to say if a great idea comes up mid-year that you should avoid it, just saying it is important to try to think strategically through your growth as much as possible, so you can plan for budgets and internal resources needed for success.


  1. Show Me the Money: Defining Return on Investment… for everyone

ROI can be determined a number of ways. It is up to the internal marketing team to help gain alignment among the internal teams on what are the most valuable metrics to track success. Sometimes this requires “meeting in the middle.” Marketing may use some key performance indicators (KPI’s) that indicate whether marketing efforts are on track, like website form submissions, even though the business will only equate the metric of closed sales to success.


  1. Trust but Verify: Identifying, Including and Optimizing the Mandatories

Occasionally there are channels or marketing mandatories that have to be included in the budget. Sometimes these may be table stakes for the business, such as a catalog for a long-standing catalog business. These should definitely be included but validated. Trust but verify. Sometimes the channel or mandatory just needs some tweaks to truly deliver results, or you might find by looking at the data that the mainstay of marketing could be ready for the recycle bin.


  1. Love Your Tribe: Get in Front of Your Team Early and Often

Set some recurring meetings/coffees with your different contributors so you can discuss your ideas along the way. This will help lead you in the right direction and may give you access to early feedback that can help frame your recommendations and requests. Always run into push back from another teammate? Maybe it’s time to make sure you run your first pass by this individual to get them on your team before the reveal to the big group.


  1. Invest in Your Toolbox:

Tools leveraged correctly can make your team more efficient and more data-aware. The panel used everything from Moz and Screaming Frog for website and SEO analysis and insights alongside Tableau for data and Basecamp for project management.


  1. Future Forward:

Some of the ideas on the horizon this next year for the panelists include:


Have questions about creating a data-driven marketing plan? Leave them in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Let's Get Started