How to budget for creative marketing


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Let’s talk about budget. Whoops. Things just got awkward. It’s ok. The topic of budget tends to be a difficult one whether you’re a client or a vendor. In the end, I really think it comes down to making sure both parties understand each other. Hence, my frequent use of analogies.

In the world of marketing, web development, video production… the products tend to be less tangible than in other industries. Sure you can see a video when it’s done, but you can’t touch it like your car. That makes it a little more difficult to understand what went into creating the product. Furthermore, we’ve seen our teenage cousins/nephews/sons pick up a new camera from Best Buy and shoot a fun little video at the family reunion. The whole things looks simple enough. So why then does the quote I just got from a video production company cost MORE than my car?!

ford classic

Well let’s take that analogy to it’s logical conclusion. Or at least just a fun conclusion. If your nephew was tinkering around with DIY automobile building, you probably wouldn’t be interested in his latest glorified-go-cart creation even though it would be a fraction of the cost of a traditional car from a dealer. The difference in the product is vast.

A video production or a marketing campaign designed by a skilled team of professionals is going to produce results for your business because that’s what it is designed to do. The team is drawing from years of experience and putting in hours of research and prep work in order to achieve the goals your business has set forth. Then, after the project, the team should continue to follow up and provide service to see that the piece of marketing is achieving it’s goal. All of those man hours, equipment rentals, electricity bills, etc. contribute to the fair market value of your production.

Ok fine. So what does a creative marketing cost then? I guess that’s a fair question after my rant about your nephew. But the answer is less straight forward than some might like. Let’s use another analogy. This question is not unlike asking “what does a house cost?” The builder needs details in order to even begin to answer that question. Square footage? Well, that’s a start, but what else is going into this thing? You can see how the simple “how much does it cost?” question becomes very difficult to answer. It’s not that we won’t make our best effort to answer the question, but we typically need to have a good conversation with our client beforehand to understand the details of the project and the goals you hope to achieve. In fact, sometimes it may be important to first ask “why are you making content X?”

Your marketing plan is bigger than one project. Really, the best way to budget for your creative marketing is to identify your goals and then set your budget as a percentage or your total annual budget. Across various industries this averages about 11% of your yearly budget. You can always increase that amount when needed but this is a good starting point. A video may not be the best idea for you if it’s going to use your entire marketing budget for the year in one project. The most important part of budgeting is to make sure you have a plan in place to maximize your exposure to your potential clients. Remember that marketing is like a building project. If you haven’t laid the foundation yet, that is the place you want to start.

This is the first in our series on budgeting.

The video blogcast vlogcast of this post

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John Shoemaker
John Shoemaker is an owner and director. John's children think he goes to work to play with puppets and eat food. His wife has not corrected them.