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How Much Should you Budget for Marketing?

Having worked on both client side and agency side, I’ve experienced the end of year budgeting season from two perspectives. On the agency side, we work with clients to set goals for 2016 and then back out of that tactically to estimate (in terms of cost) what it’s going to take to reach those goals. In an agency, we get to dream about all the exciting things we could do to help move our clients’ businesses forward. We get to brainstorm and collaborate then present exciting ideas to our clients. But what many on our side don’t know is what you (our clients) go through during the final few months of the year – the planning, negotiating, revising, justifying, compromising, etc. Often it requires internal campaigning with adjacent departments to partner on initiatives so that budget can be shared. It’s a draining process and any data that might support your proposal for an increase in budget helps.

How much to budget for 2016 Marketing

While the process will always be messy, taking a look at what others are doing helps provide context. Each year CMO Survey publishes a report with what companies spend in marketing and the percentage of revenue and the overall company budget that the marketing budget represents.

First the big numbers. Marketing budgets represent 11% of overall company budgets. This is further broken down by the type of company with B2C product (vs. service) companies getting the most budget at 17.5% and B2B product companies getting the least at 10.1%. Interestingly, the trend is on the upswing, with companies investing more on marketing than any report since 2012.

CMO Marketing Budget Report

While marketing budgets continue to take a larger percentage of overall company budgets, the net investment, however, continues to decrease as company budgets overall continue to decrease. On average, marketing departments intend to invest 6.6% of company revenue, down from 8.3% in 2015. Again, B2C product companies are leading overall spend with 10.4% with B2C services companies taking the bottom at 5.3%.

2016mktgbudget2

It should be noted that these numbers are inclusive of all marketing department efforts including operations – that’s everything from the costs associated with your brand advertising campaigns to the salaries of all of your marketing employees. Looking at total budgets then might be of little value to those of you who are creating budgets that get submitted to a CMO for inclusion in the overall budget, so let’s break it down a bit to see where companies are investing.

One of the biggest gains for 2016 will continue to be in digital marketing spend with a 12.2% increase year over year. B2C services companies, who we saw previously were getting the least amount of marketing budget as a percentage of revenue, will have an average 20% increase in their digital marketing budget, while B2C product companies will see a 14% increase.. On the other hand, traditional advertising spend for 2016 will be down 2.1% marking a significant swing toward digital.

Mobile marketing is another large focus for companies. In the next 3 years, companies say they will increase mobile marketing spend by 15.6%.

Investment in CRM also continues to be prioritized, with an 8% increase in marketing spend in 2016. Brand building will see a 5.5% increase. New product introductions will see 8.3% increase. And new service introductions will see a 4% increase.

Gone are the days when companies could do the minimum and hope to slide by without seeing any impact on the bottom line, and this latest data underscores what it takes to compete in today’s increasingly active, competitive marketplace. While this won’t make your job over the next month or two any easier, hopefully it validates what you’re asking for. Here’s to a successful 2016!

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