Holy *&^$ it’s almost the end of the year! This is the time to start digging into your budget line by line and asking the hard questions about your relationships with the software and vendors you’ve worked with this year.
Reviewing and planning your marketing budget is an obviously important part of Q4. We want to help make this process a little easier by diving into a review of items that you should think about as you prepare to make 2020 your best year ever.
Step 1: Let’s start with a checklist - write down the following items:
- Insight areas that…
- You expect to be new in 2020 (prioritize this list to push for items to replace 2.3 below and begin to get estimates of cost now to know what is feasible)
- You expect to continue (e.g. brand trackers)
- The business can do without / did not appreciate
- Software / vendors that you...
- Can’t live without
- Live with
- Cannot stand
- Your goals for 2020 and what will help you to achieve them
Step 2: Start plotting the items from 2 (above) and circle those in 2.3 and 2.4 - these are obviously the spaces where there is room for improvement. Then draw lines from 2.1 and 2.2 to each of the parts in 1. Where are the gaps? This will give you some great framework for what’s redundant, missing, or maybe unnecessary.
- Moving to a centralized platform for all your market research needs used to be a dream - now it’s an established option. As you investigate the various options, try thinking about the component pieces that you currently have and pay for on a monthly basis. Many companies pay out small license fees on services that they don’t even know they’re still paying because they fall below some threshold that doesn’t show up as a line item. Try pulling all of these pieces together and see where you fall in monthly costs - it might be more than you expect.
- Lay out your process for collecting data. Here are some starting points:
- A strong survey tool - preferably something with panel integration and ALSO allows private distribution (think about contacts in your CRM or employees in your HR database)
- Translation abilities - are you working globally? Do you have the ability to translate your surveys quickly, or do you rely on a third party? Look for software with the ability to translate within the tool.
- Data presentation - are you able to extract your data in ready to use formats or do you have to use another tool? How would you ideally like to present your findings? Make sure that any tools you demo you look specifically at this point - dashboards are great, but also talk about extraction.
- Team communication - are you using some kind of tracking tool or slack channel to make sure your team is on the same page when it comes to edits and suggestions for polling? Think about these pieces in a demo as well.
Step 3: Think about the analysis stage: This tends to be where companies spend the bulk of their money, and rightly so, it usually involves a lot of different team members, tools, and experience.
- Do you have an internal team or do you rely on outside support? If working with an outside firm, are they setting fixed prices for projects or are they charging you an hourly rate?
- Do you keep a team on retainer? While not the right fit for everyone, this can be very valuable if you are working on a brand tracker or any other repeatable study - by negotiating a retainer model you can usually take advantage of some discounting/bulk pricing.
- Do you know what you’re looking for or are you relying on a team to tell you what to analyze? Taking the time to establish your goals and objectives ahead of talking with an internal or external team can really help streamline the process and cut some cost out of the equation.
Step 4: Think about the presentation of data - many people think after the analysis the job is done - but you know the heavy lifting is just starting! You need to get your executive team on board with whatever decision has been informed by the data.
- How is your team communicating objectives during this stage, how are roles and responsibilities determined and is there a clear process for executing action from insights?
- Do your tools have the ability to translate your dashboards and data into ready-made presentations, or are you spending a lot of your time transposing?
- Are you able to leverage your team (either internal or external) to be a part of those conversations?
Step 5: Overall, what are your ambitions for 2020?
- Here’s where you can go wild. By adjusting some of these other areas you’ve set yourself up for a great start to 2020. Start thinking big picture about your business, target customers, and returns in 2019. Set an expected ROI for each tool you use as well, not just for overall buckets like branded content and PR.
- [Note: You can absolutely do this step first, some people prefer it that way and others like to do it at the end as a reward for the hard work in the previous steps. Go with what feels right for you.] If you could have your ideal situation, what would it look like? So often we as marketers get lost in working within the system and a budget that we lose some of our creative juice. After doing all this work, take a blank page out of your notebook and start sketching some ideal states. See if any of them work with the structure you’ve outlined, you might be surprised!
Obviously this is not an exhaustive guideline, but it is a pretty strong starting point. As with everything we share here at Corus, we’re here to provide deeper insights, just reach out. Good luck!
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