Eliminate bloated bottom lines by adopting a zero-based budgeting approach

The ability to develop an efficient and effective budgeting and forecasting process requires extensive experience and on-the-job training that can take years before your boss finally - if ever - says, “You don’t need me anymore.” Accurate forecasting (even close to being in the ballpark) is the hallmark of the great marketers I have worked with. Sadly, I can count them on one hand. In addition to a wide-ranging combination of consumer, channel, process and delivery knowledge, they were also comfortable and capable in the numbers department. Although we’ve introduced different forecasting techniques to brief marketers on how to use a more data-driven approach, the concept of zero-based budgeting is becoming a popular technique. As campaigns running all around us right now prove, anyone can invest/spend/blow (take your pick) money that flows from the magic money tree that…

5 Options for charging fees and paying for agency resource

There are a wide range of agency costing and budgeting options for marketers to consider when outsourcing their marketing activities. The fees model used will vary by both type of agency and client engagement as you seek to agree what is a practical, mutually beneficial remuneration mix. Whichever model(s) you use, an agency or consultancy should ensure that all elements of activity are captured and you minimise working ‘for free’ e.g ‘giving away thinking’ in order to secure production work. I say costing model(s) since it’s common practice for an agency to have a preferred approach, but to vary it on a case-­by-­case basis depending on clients requirements and expectations. How much you should charge clients for specific elements of work that you undertake will be based on a range of factors e.g. your fixed overheads (office rent, management salaries etc), variable…

A five-step plan to marketing productivity

One of the recurring observations I’ve found in all the different roles and organizations in which I’ve worked is the inconsistency of marketing planning. In some companies, planning was conducted on an ad hoc basis, whilst in others, there was no discernable plan at all! As an idealistic marketing graduate coming into the workforce this came as a surprise: how can marketers operate effectively in the absence of a joined-up, integrated plan? [si_guide_block id="5697" title="Download our Individual Member Resource – Digital marketing planning spreadsheet" description="This Microsoft Excel spreadsheet has been created to help you create a clearer acquisition plan to improve leads and sales."/] Many years on and I’ve come to understand that the reality is that marketing planning is difficult and not everyone knows how to do it properly. They may also lack the time and space to put something together. In larger organizations, the complexity…

Even if you’re flushed with success at the moment, you could still benefit from refining your current processes using one of many tools and software available to you

Is your business at risk of being left behind in this increasingly competitive digital age? Are you failing to meet the heightened expectations of the modern consumer? Even if you’re flushed with success at the moment, you could still benefit from refining your current processes using one of many tools and software available to you. In this blog post, I’ve compiled summaries of some of the best upgrades you can make this year. Used correctly, they’ll equip you to better deal with the day-to-day running of a business, help you satisfy existing customers, secure new leads and cut costs. This post isn’t solely aimed at anachronistic businesses who need to make wholesale changes to enter the 21st century. With the speed of technological evolution more…

How to strategically manage your marketing budget with 8 integrated marketing budget templates

Setting strategic and channel direction, working toward commercial objectives and KPIs and monitoring success is great, but if you're not tracking budget or ROI per channel it's hard to understand how much money you've had to spend to see a return. This is a quick way to burn through budget you may have had to negotiate from management. If you can't prove a tactic has been successful without wasting money, it will be even more difficult to prove it's been successful, or more budget is needed to try again. Here are 8 pre-made templates for annual planning and monthly monitoring:

Budget summary and monthly budget tracker

Understanding the share of your budget is important in knowing where your money is being spent against what channel is providing better results. Seeing a visual of this in one place will then allow you…

Chart of the Day: UK adspend is at a record £22.2 billion for 2017, the eighth year of consecutive growth

Adspend for 2017 was a record high following 8 years of continued growth in advertising spend. This according to the latest advertising spend figures for the full year 2017 which are analyzed by The Advertising Association and Warc. It paints a fantastic picture for marketing and advertising, showing increases which have continued for many years and shows that despite any political situation, slumps or increases in consumer demand, advertising is still producing returns, as marketers are still spending and still depend heavily on their advertising campaigns. Internet advertising saw positive increases but it was mobile advertising that produced the biggest by far - a massive increase in mobile ad spending of over 37%. Regional newspapers saw decreases, as did magazines and a small decrease for TV. This could explain why recently UK TV network …

If art is beauty, is science the beast?


Many corporations think so, judging from the way they silo their marketing and technology teams. Rarely do CMOs and CDOs bring the brains of both teams to bear on the company's marketing.


In an era when 38% of marketing professionals admit to underutilizing data for content strategy, companies that don't marry art and science struggle to snag smarter audiences with shorter attention spans.

[si_guide_block id="5676" title="Download FREE Resource – Digital marketing plan template" description="Our popular marketing planning template built on the Smart Insights RACE planning system."/] …

How to optimize your marketing and media priorities for the year ahead

Smart Insights have launched their first 'playbook' in response to our members' feedback.

[si_guide_block id="98899" title="Download Premium Resource – Paid Media and Digital Advertising Playbook" description="A playbook to help you identify the steps you can take to ensure your integrated paid media investments are successful. This paid media planning guide will provide marketers with a structured approach to paid media planning to help exploit these opportunities while managing the risks."/]

What is a playbook?

Complex sports, such as rugby, cricket, and American football, often involve a huge amount of strategy and so it’s not unusual to find that the coaches in charge have a set of tried and trusted guides comprising the plans, strategies, and tactics to counter different scenarios that arise within a game. In American football they call these guides ‘playbooks’ and they include detailed notes, diagrams, and methods…

Chart of the day: Reporting the ROI of Social and Content Marketing proving difficult for marketers

As marketers we are constantly juggling more projects than seems possible at times -  planning the next campaign, delivering the current one as well as all the BAU activity of Email, Automation, Social, linking with the sales team and meeting...oh the meetings. It can feel like your in a whirlwind even with the most well thought out plans but one of the most turbulent times can be when you need to report on the ROI of particular activities. How do you find the right data? Is it accurate? How should your present it? It's hard. In a recent survey, TrackMaven asked marketers from 19 different industries what they were finding the most challenging when attempting to prove the ROI of their marketing. Of the many options, they could choose from attributing social and content to revenue leading the…

A review of different methods and models for developing a marketing communications plan

Commercial as well as non-profit organizations, routinely confront these typical questions: Do we need social media? How do we introduce our new website? What can we do to publicize our eCommerce Store? How do we introduce our new product? How will our market share rise? These are five commonly asked questions that require marketing and communications expertise. [si_guide_block id="5750" title="Download our recently updated Premium Member Resource – Successful SEO Guide " description="This guide is one of our most popular and rightly so. If you get it right, SEO can be a fantastic, relatively low-cost way to drive quality visitors who want to do business with you to your site."/] Whether it be a strategic plan, a business plan, a marketing plan or a communications strategy, their design requires systematic, step-by-step development that takes into account elements of all the other types…

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