By Robert Rose published July 12, 2010

4 Quick Tips for Increasing Your Content Marketing Budget

There’s a great quote that I love that says, “Budgeting is just a way to worry about money before you spend it.”  As you get ready to move into the planning season for your 2011 budget, it’s a good time to start thinking about things you might do to increase your chances of getting increased budget for content marketing.

So, with no further ado – here are some quick checklist items to do as you prepare your content marketing budget.

Make sure you know, and have gotten efficiency from, your current spend

Assuming you have done some content marketing already, you need to be able to show how you’ve modified your strategy based on content that:

  • Failed (e.g. didn’t produce the desired results)
  • Didn’t support the new marketing goals
  • Worked well, and enables you to move on now that it’s fixed

For example:

  • We’ve seen a 10% lift in leads from our content marketing efforts.
  • We’ve de-funded the corporate blog, and would like to leverage the current spending, plus X% to fund product level blogs.
  • We’re shifting our budget from outsourced an SEO process (understanding our CMS and meta tagging strategy) to focus on a content production process.

Ensure each content marketing initiative is aligned to business objectives

Every piece of content should support a measurable marketing objective – whether that’s increased revenue, customer retention, or increased leads. Assign each content marketing process (item) to one of these measurable objectives. The more specific you can make these recommendations, the more likely you will get your increased budget.

Understand your business’s marketing budget ratios and how they apply to your content

There are a number of ways organizations measure marketing ratios, and many have difference acronyms for this. However, most of them  basically use this equation:

For every $1 of marketing spend,  we -get/expect $X of return in revenue.

Notice that there are two verbs there – “get” and “expect.”You need to know both numbers.

For example, startup companies trying to grab market share will often have a ratio of 2 (or more) to 1. But at some point, unless the marketing team wants to get axed, that ratio needs to come down. In the end, this number might be around 15% (e.g. $1 marketing dollar for every $6.50 in revenue) or, as with some services firms I’ve seen, as low as 1%. The key is to understand both what it *is* and what the CFO *expects* it to be.

Knowing both of these numbers helps you to justify new content marketing expenditures. So, if that new blog is going to cost $5K to get up and running and your “expect” ratio is 15%, then you should be confident that the blog will produce about $35K of revenue.

Bonus tip:  If you understand the length of time it will take to get there, you’ll get a gold star in your personnel file. Trust me, if you walk in and you say – “I want to launch this new blog. It will cost $5K to launch – and I’m forecasting $35K of revenue sourced from it in six months” – you’re going to get a big smile from that CFO.

Budget for failure

Make sure you not only budget at least a small percentage of content marketing spend for new experiments that may not work, but also set the expectation as well. Every good financial analyst understands the benefits of managing “low, medium and high” risk efforts in a portfolio – and your marketing budgets should be no different.

As Joe recently stated in his post on how to manage the content marketing process, “If the budget you created at the start of the year is not drastically different than the one you ended up with, you probably aren’t listening enough to what your customers need.”

In short, these four principles are aligned around one thing – making sure that you can communicate how content is contributing to the bottom line success of the marketing effort.

This is a challenging time for those that have to assemble marketing budgets. They’re being stretched even further down the customer funnel into customer retention efforts and even upsell opportunities. But this is a unique opportunity for content marketing – because of how well it addresses these new challenges. Communicating this effectively to your team will ensure that you’re not fighting for resources, and always wondering if you can try something new. It also ensures that you’ll continue to grow – even if your budget doesn’t.

What other tips do you have to help get more from your content marketing budget?

Author: Robert Rose

Robert is the founder and chief strategy officer of The Content Advisory, the education and consulting group for The Content Marketing Institute. Robert has worked with more than 500 companies, including 15 of the Fortune 100. He’s provided content marketing and strategy advice for global brands such as Capital One, NASA, Dell, McCormick Spices, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Robert’s third book – Killing Marketing, with co-author Joe Pulizzi has been called the “book that rewrites the rules of marketing.” His second book – Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing is a top seller and has been called a “treatise, and a call to arms for marketers to lead business innovation in the 21st century.” Robert’s first book, Managing Content Marketing, spent two weeks as a top 10 marketing book on Amazon.com and is generally considered to be the “owners manual” of the content marketing process. You can catch up with Robert on his popular podcast - The Weekly Wrap. Follow him on Twitter @Robert_Rose.

Other posts by Robert Rose

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