It’s that time of year when most executives are required to submit their budget requests for review. As any VP or CMO can attest, the budget planning process is painful. Minimizing that pain not only reduces the burden on the executive but also eases pressure on staff.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of documentation and planning when it comes to budget planning. Budget submissions need to be backed by data and historical performance. The more data and documentation you have, the more easily you will get that quick sign off you need to get started.

Budget Planning Tools

Here are some of the tools and resources I like to use along with downloadable templates:

  1. Historical Budgets & Overall YTD Performance
  2. Promotional Calendar
  3. Planned Campaign Overview & Content Inventory Gaps

Historical Budgets & Overall YTD Performance

Whether you use a more complex month-by-month budget tracker or a high-level cost tracker, knowing how you’ve spent in the past and what it has yielded can save a lot of time. Often times you can replicate the successful portions of your past budgets. If you haven’t documented your budgets in the past, it’s not too late to get started.

budget

As for performance – your sales tool should be your best friend. Salesforce or tools like this offer metrics that executives understand and care about: pipeline and revenue. Start by measuring how many leads, opps, and wins each channel brought in. This will help you evaluate how your activities (and therefore, budget) performed, which in turn, will give you an argument for requesting this same budget in the new year. There are plenty of other KPIs to measure, but for budget planning, keep it simple and stick with leads, opps, and wins.

Promotional Calendar

Promotional calendars offer a 10,000 foot view of how you will share your marketing message with the public. It should include planned advertising, events, email, etc. While the activities may be tentative and subject to change, this calendar will give you the quick snapshot you need to carve out the right amount of funds to ask for so you are less likely to misjudge your budget need. Promotional calendars can be simple but should be visual. Here’s a template to get started.

content

To clarify, the promotional calendar should only show how you will disseminate your message, not the message itself. That brings us to the money you need to set aside for content creation.

Planned Campaign Overview & Content Inventory Gaps

Lastly, to identify what funds you may need for content development you should reference your content inventory and strategy. The content inventory will help you identify gaps, which in turn, will allow you to approximate the cost required to create new pieces.

Budget planning is never easy, but it can be less difficult if you plan for it throughout the year. What tools do you use for budget planning?