I have recently received several inquiries regarding how to organize and develop a marketing budget. Over the years in the different roles I have worked, there have been several types of A/E/C marketing budgets I have developed or been a part of developing.
Most recently, I was part of a team who developed two types of marketing budgets –one for corporate marketing and communication functions and one for each of market sectors/business lines.
At the bottom of this blog post, I include files for each type of budgets that can get you started. Before you scroll down, please take a moment to consider the following items in developing your budgets. Also, take a moment to review the Budgeting 101 article to learn the different budgeting methods our industry uses.
What to Consider for Your A/E/C Marketing Budget
This may seem like a no-brainer but consider the timeframe for the budget period. Do you want the budget to encompass an entire year? Do you want it to match your firm’s fiscal year? If so, is your firm’s fiscal year based on calendar or another timeframe?
Tracking and Reporting
What types of marketing expense does your firm track now? How frequently is this reported? What items are missing? Is your office/business unit roll up into another unit/budget?
Determining how your track and report marketing expenses now and how would like it to be reported in the future. This will help you use the templates below and tailor specifically to your firm.
Your team will need to identify (and agree upon) targets to pursue for the determined time period. Ideally, the marketing budget items will be organized to support those priorities. For example, if one of your priorities is to present at five education conferences, you will need to have a budget line item for that effort and allocate funds to it accordingly.
Level of Detail
How detailed do you want your budget to be? This will depend on the results of the considerations above and how your accounting system is set up. There is no sense of getting too detailed if your accounting system cannot or will not track down to that level. On the other hand, if you have a very powerful accounting system that can track down to the deepest level, is that worth it to you? What are the factors and information you need to know? It is okay to adjust the level of detail from one budget period to another. I have experienced this myself when I was too detailed one year which became confusing as to where to apply labor and expenses. The next year, I dialed back and adjusted the marketing charge numbers accordingly.
Corporate/General Marketing Budget
Below is the link for a marketing budget focused on the general functions of a marketing department. This can be used in a home/headquarter/regional office for a larger firm and may be the only budget for a small, one-office, one-marketer firm.
Sections of the budget include:
- Market Research
- Graphics and Technology
- Conferences/Firm Events
- Organizational Involvement
- Training & Development
Market/Business Line/Office Marketing Budget
This template is set up to be used for a specific market/business line/office. These are typically developed when there are separate budgets set-up and are focused on that specific budget. Market/Business Line examples can include roadway design, education or healthcare. Office examples could be the Orlando or Tampa office as well as maybe the Southeast Region budget area.
Sections of this budget include:
- Professional Organizations
- Business Developers