Why Your Marketing Budget is Failing and How to Fix It in 2024

Creating a marketing budget for your small business can feel like trying to solve a complex puzzle. You’re balancing limited resources, fluctuating market conditions, and the pressure to achieve measurable results. If you're feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. But don’t worry—by identifying common challenges and implementing strategic solutions, you can craft a marketing budget that drives success in 2024.

1. You Don't Know Where to Allocate Funds

The Problem: One of the biggest hurdles is figuring out where to put your money. Should you invest in social media, email marketing, SEO, or perhaps all of them? Spreading your budget too thin across too many channels can dilute your efforts and reduce overall effectiveness.

The Solution: Prioritize channels that have historically provided the best ROI. Look at your data from previous years to identify which platforms and strategies brought in the most traffic, leads, and sales. For example, if your Facebook ads consistently drive more conversions than your Google ads, it makes sense to allocate more budget to Facebook.

Example: Elysian Coffee found that investing in implementing a subscription-based model for their eCommerce store generated the highest recurring customer revenue. By focusing on this strategy, they've seen an impressive 80% returning customer rate on average over the last 12 months. This targeted approach allowed them to allocate more resources towards enhancing the subscription experience, leading to sustained growth and customer loyalty.

2. You Haven't Set Clear Goals and KPIs

The Problem: Without clear goals, your marketing efforts can be scattered and unfocused. Vague objectives make it hard to measure success and prove ROI.

The Solution: Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals and define key performance indicators (KPIs). For instance, instead of saying “increase brand awareness,” aim to “increase website traffic by 25% in the next quarter.” This specificity helps you track progress and make informed adjustments.

Example: An eCommerce client of ours, Greens Market in Vancouver, aimed to increase their total sales to $15,000 through targeted ads over eight months. We launched campaigns offering discounts for sign-ups, closely monitored their progress, and adjusted strategies based on performance. Achieving a 4x return on ad spend (ROAS), they are currently at 85% of their sales goal, demonstrating the effectiveness of clear, measurable targets.

3. You've Not Accounted For Changing Conditions

The Problem: Market conditions and consumer behaviors can shift unexpectedly, making it tough to stick to a rigid budget.

The Solution: Build flexibility into your budget by setting aside a contingency fund. Allocate about 10% of your budget for unexpected opportunities or challenges. Regularly review and adjust your budget based on performance data and market trends.

Example: Over the past four years, many of our clients have pivoted from traditional brick-and-mortar businesses to eCommerce due to the pandemic. This shift required reallocating budgets to focus on eCommerce growth marketing. These clients, who adapted quickly, saw substantial benefits from their investments in digital marketing strategies, illustrating the importance of flexibility in budgeting.

4. You're Missing Out On Affordable Tools

The Problem: High-quality marketing tools and resources can be costly, putting a strain on your budget.

The Solution: Utilize free or low-cost tools that offer robust features. Platforms like Canva for design, Hootsuite for social media scheduling, and Google Analytics for tracking performance are excellent starting points. Also, repurpose content across multiple platforms to maximize value.

Example: Many of our small business clients have used Canva to create professional infographics and repurposed blog content into LinkedIn posts and email newsletters. This approach saved on design costs and extended their content’s reach, proving that high-quality marketing doesn't always require high expenditure.

5. You're Not Engaging Your Audience Effectively

The Problem: Without a clear understanding of your audience, your marketing efforts can miss the mark, leading to low engagement and wasted spend.

The Solution: Conduct thorough market research to understand your audience’s preferences and behaviors. Use surveys, social media polls, and customer feedback to gather insights. Tailor your messaging and content to resonate with your target audience.

Example: For our eCommerce clients like Elysian Coffee and Scoopmate Canada, we implemented post-purchase surveys to gain valuable customer insights. These surveys revealed preferences and pain points, allowing us to tailor marketing strategies effectively. This customer-centric approach not only increased engagement but also built stronger customer relationships.

Some Final Thoughts..

Creating a marketing budget for 2024 doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By addressing these common challenges with strategic solutions—prioritizing investments, setting clear goals, adapting to changes, leveraging affordable tools, and effectively engaging your audience—you can build a budget that not only meets your business needs but also sets you up for success.

Want More Tips?

Download our free ebook, "How to Plan Your Marketing Budget in 2024 as a Small Business," for detailed strategies, practical tips, and customizable templates to guide you through the budgeting process.

Implement these strategies, and you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the complexities of marketing budgeting and drive your business toward success in 2024.