No matter if you have control over your allocated marketing funds or not, you can efficiently utilize your marketing budget by coming up with a smart game plan for how to spend it.

While the best plans account for long-term gain, it can be hard to campaign for a bigger budget without any results to show for it.

Spend your marketing budget wisely by focusing on tactics that’ll get you the fastest return on investment (ROI). While these quick results might not be big wins, small celebrations help to keep up morale and push toward more ambitious goals. Plus, these little victories are the results you need to prove that your ideas are “working” to management, earning trust to make higher-impact, longer-sight investments later.

Get the best bang for your buck by investing in low-cost, quick-return ROI opportunities. Here’s how to get started:

1. Get Clear on Your Metrics for Success

Before you can begin allocating your marketing budget, it’s important to understand what you or your management team’s ideas of “success” looks like. Maybe to you as the Marketing Manager, acquiring more leads is a major win. But perhaps to your stakeholders, the online “image” of your company matters above all— and nothing shines brighter than solid reviews and customer testimonials on page one of Google for your brand name. Throw into the mix your C-suite, who could care less what meaningless metrics you hit, so long as you’re bringing in new customers and sales.

Remember, your marketing metrics aren’t all that matters when planning your marketing budget. It’s crucial for you to understand what motivates all teams within your company, and that you plan your marketing budget to help support holistic company goals.

Before leveraging these kinds of talks with other departments, read more about the difference between success and achievement and empathize with what matters most to your individual teams.

2. Wrap Your Head Around Your Current State

If your company was investing in marketing previously, don’t let all that work fall to the wasteside. Dive into the data and start reviewing what’s been working and what’s not.

If you spent a ton of paid advertising, was it worth it? Get into AdWords and review what was spent, compared to how it helped you reach your past goals. Where did you fall short? Can you narrow down exactly where you went wrong? Now is not the time to be prideful and deny what didn’t work. Instead, take a hard look at the mistakes you’ve made.

In addition to paid advertising, take a look at your:

  • Social media
  • Organic ranking
  • Website traffic and sources
  • Leads and conversions
  • Reviews

If there are areas where you’re waiting for long-term results, do you see evident progression towards your goal? If not, it might be wise to let go of old pursuits that just aren’t performing. Think of it as saving time and budget that you can instead invest in testing new, better-aligned ideas.

Jot down which areas of your marketing need the most help to later prioritize which to budget for the short vs. long-term. Don’t forget to write down the areas that are crushin’ it as well in their own column. These may require less money and time to boost and can be shared to impress the C-suite. Who knows, maybe seeing where you’re succeeding will put them in a more giving state-of-mind, trusting you to allocate the budget accordingly!

3. Set SMARTer Goals & Objectives


You can’t realistically understand the scope of your marketing budget without understanding your goals and objectives for the quarter or year. In contrast, when you can’t control the budget you’re given, the progress of your goals is sometimes tied directly to your spend. In short, your goals and your budget always go hand-in-hand.

Setting achievable goals begins with a SMARTer kind of planning. In our SMART goals article, we explain what this marketing acronym stands for to help you write five-part goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

When looking to impress your big wigs, it’s important to set shorter goals that prove ROI early on. You definitely need those long-term goals too, but by setting the stage for a couple quick wins— and by promising fast results in your marketing budget proposal— you are talking the C-Suite’s language.

4. Leverage Low-Hanging Fruit & High-Impact, Lower-Cost Opportunities

Here are the line-items you’re allocating the funds towards. When setting your SMART goals, be sure to seek out easier-to-achieve goals— the benchmarks you know you can hit— and align them towards the beginning of your quest for the year.

For instance, if historically you know you’ve done really well promoting your seasonal product with Google Ads and that you can achieve an impressive conversion rate without a huge spend by going after opportunistic keywords, don’t rock the boat by overreaching. Place a few achievable goals at the front of your docket with shorter-term timelines. Celebrating small victories upfront will raise your morale, as well as help you gain favorable ground with management.

Similarly, think too about ways you can leave a big impact without a huge spend. Almost view it as a challenge: “how can I make a difference without slapping money on something?” This line-of-thought often leaves wiggle room for you to branch of and try new approaches you’ve never considered before.

Take Your Marketing Fully DigitalRemember, it’s all about balance. You can’t have all easy wins and expect to grow without any true challenge or motivating stretch goals. That being said, do make sure your marketing budget factors in a few crucial long-term goals. Sometimes your high-impact, low-cost opportunities can actually help tie into these, helping you to reduce cost and create tangible movement towards your greater results.

As we approach the final quarter of the year, it’s smart to start thinking ahead to the next. Whether you assess your marketing budget quarterly or yearly, managing your budget is all about frequent review and strategic decisions.

If a lot of your past lead generation efforts have been focused on a more traditional marketing approach, it’s time to consider transitioning to digital marketing. Download our Lean Into Digital ebook, which can help you assess what hasn’t really been working and move you from cold calling to inbound marketing. This 32-page guide is a terrific resource for anyone ready to optimize your brand’s online presence, with easy-to-understand examples and exercises for bridging the gap between off and online marketing.