Three basics when budgeting and planning MarTech

It might before for the quarter, it might be budgeting and planning for the coming year. As a marketing operations professional, part of your job is now to make sure you have what you need to support all of marketing operations for the next period. 

How do you do that without stress? Focus on three things:

  • Objectives
  • Optimizing the baseline
  • Measurement

Objectives: Revenue and CLTV

As marketers, our core responsibility is now very much focused on supporting and in many cases, delivering revenue and customer lifetime value (CLTV) objectives. Understanding these objectives as you plan for next year simplifies the process of developing your marketing strategy, tactical plan and budget.

Step 1: Define your revenue objectives for the next year.

Step 2: Define your CLTV objectives for the next year.

For both of these objectives, it’s essential to define the metrics that will show whether or not you are tracking to plan. If you are like me, you have probably fallen victim to dashboarditis and are awash in so many metrics you can’t see straight. Now is the time to jettison any metrics that are not critical to measuring performance. 

Step 3: Define the minimum number of metrics/KPIs needed to assess your performance.

Step 4: Define your current and desired KPIs so you know what you need to achieve.

Baseline: Programs, Technology, People

With business objectives and metric goals in hand, let's look at the programs needed to support those objectives. For revenue, you are looking at customer acquisition and everything that supports it (awareness, lead gen, nurturing, conversion). For customer lifetime value, you are most likely looking at customer engagement, retention, loyalty and advocacy, each of which will have a variety of sub-programs. 

Before you let the creative juices flow and start dreaming up new programs, establish a robust foundational baseline. Look at your existing marketing programs. What's working? What isn't? Eliminate any that aren’t performing or don't have the potential to deliver the metrics you need. Set aside the money from eliminating these programs for future initiatives.

Step 5: Eliminate marketing programs that aren't performing. Save the money for future initiatives.

Now take a hard look at your technology. Technology is consuming more and more of the marketing budget. As technology costs increase and marketing programs become more dependent on technology, it's critical to have centralized oversight of all the technology that supports sales and marketing. Start with a technology audit. Uncover all the tools and technology — both acquired and internally developed — in use across the organization.

Step 6: Conduct a technology audit.

Step 7: Eliminate duplicate products, contracts and functionality. In my experience, this will likely yield a technology expense saving of roughly 20%. Put that money aside for future initiatives.

Step 8: Look at each piece of technology, define its function, and determine whether it is achieving its objectives. Keep the technology that’s performing.

Step 9: For technology that appears to be performing badly, determine if it is genuinely not performing or if it's an issue with feature utilization or team skills. Eliminate technology that is not performing. If a product has not been fully utilized, create a first-quarter objective to increase the utilization of the product to see if that positively impacts performance.

Step 10: For the technology you keep, make sure integrations are in place so data flows through the technology stack to support your marketing programs.

If you don’t take control of your technology and commit to creating a solid foundation, it will be difficult to add to your technology suite and achieve meaningful results.

Now your team. As harsh as it sounds, if you have team members who are not performing, now is the time to let them go. Most of you are probably on top of poorly performing employees, but are you on top of your internal skill proficiency? Now's the time to make sure the skills you have internally are aligned with the programs you plan to initiate and the deployed technology. If you haven’t done so already, complete a skills audit for your entire organization to assess where training is needed. Take some of the money from the programs and technology you eliminated, and put it towards training. Your goal should be to go into the new year with the best team possible.

Step 11: Dismiss poorly performing employees.

Step 12: Establish a training plan for your team to ensure everyone has the skills they need.

  • So much of planning and budgeting stress comes from fuzzy objectives, the wrong or too many KPIs, and trying to add programs, people and technology on top of a poor foundation. Establishing clear objectives, the right set of KPIs, and a robust program, people, technology baseline will make it infinitely easier to plan for the coming year.