At first glance, it seems like a classic chicken-egg situation. 

In marketing your business, budget and strategy are so closely tied to one another, it can be difficult to determine which one should come first. Should the budget come first in the planning process, or should the strategy? And does it even matter?

Spoiler alert: Yes, yes it does.

The marketing success of any business depends on many elements, and the order in which those elements are addressed absolutely matters. 

If you’re struggling to decode the order of operations for your marketing efforts, you’re not alone. It is a crucial decision with a lasting impact on your marketing’s success – or lack thereof. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the best approach to take when it comes to the budget or the strategy when it comes to marketing success. We’ll break down the different elements of the process and explain why getting the order of operations right is so important.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the order of operations for marketing success, so you can make the most of your efforts and maximize your return on investment.

Why Does the Order of Operations Matter?

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’ve struggled with this age-old debate. And, by this point, you’ve probably also realized that your decision matters. A lot.

But do you know why? 

The order of operations for marketing success is important because it helps you to understand the interrelationship between different parts of the marketing process. No single step in the process can be successful without taking into account other elements of the marketing strategy. 

Put simply, the order of operations for marketing success is needed to ensure that every part of the process is working together towards the same goal. 

If you jump into planning the budget or the strategy, without first understanding their connections to one another, there is a very good chance you will end up with a less effective marketing plan. 

On the other hand, if you follow a process organized toward accomplishing a singular goal, you’ll preemptively eliminate any confusion, better align your marketing efforts, and make the most of your budget.

So, now, let’s break down the order of operations for marketing success and examine what each step means.

What Comes First: The Budget or the Strategy?

The answer to this question depends on the nature of your marketing efforts. In the beginning, it may seem like “the budget comes first” is the obvious answer, but that is not always the case. There are many cases in which the strategy should take priority. 

Let me explain.

If you’re a small business, developing a new marketing strategy, you’ll need to know your budget to determine what you can realistically accomplish. The budget will help you determine which marketing channels to invest in, as well as how much you can spend on each channel. 

If you’re a mid to large-size business, looking to grow your revenue (and, thus, your marketing budget), the order of operations is reversed. You’ll need to determine where you need to invest in order to achieve your marketing goals. You’ll need to ask yourself: “What channel do I need to invest in first in order to achieve my goals?”

A key point to remember: When it comes to marketing budgets, it’s not about the cost but about the returns you see on these marketing expenses. 

You can put together the most effective marketing strategy in the world, but if there is no budget to implement it, it will not bring success to your business. That said, a company that is just starting out will have different budget limitations than a company that is established and brings in millions of dollars each year. 

If your budget is not severely limited by your newness, it is generally best to let strategy lead

Strategy will help you determine where you need to funnel money and why – so that you earn back your investment dollars. 

Develop Your Marketing Budget From Your Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve developed your marketing strategy, or brought in an expert to develop your strategy, you are halfway there. Now, it is time to put together a budget based on your strategy. 

The budget, as the financial piece of your marketing process, will help you to determine exactly how much you can invest in each part of the strategy. Your budget will depend on the type of business you have, the type of marketing channels you choose, and the size of your business. 

How A Strategy-Based Budget Might Look

Let’s say you’ve identified that your best marketing channel is public relations. 

Now, it’s time to determine how much money you have to invest in PR efforts, by following these steps:

  1. Break down your overall marketing goals into specific, actionable objectives. 
  2. Determine how much PR you need to achieve those objectives. 

Start by calculating how much PR you need to achieve each specific objective. For example, if you want to increase your brand awareness, you’ll need to determine how much PR outreach you need in order to increase brand awareness by a certain percentage.

  1. Keep in mind that you don’t have to spend all of your budget at once. 

It is often better to budget for a couple of marketing campaigns throughout the year. This will give you a chance to stretch your budget and make the most of every dollar. 

Sticking to Your Plan

Now that you have developed a strategy and budget based on that strategy, it is time to execute the marketing plan. 

It is important to remember that the order of operations for marketing success is not a one-time thing. Rather, it is something that needs to be revisited and reassessed every so often. 

Depending on the maturity of your company, this could mean once a month, once a quarter, or even once a year. Regardless of the frequency, it is essential to keep track of how the marketing plan is going and adjust course as necessary. 

By staying on top of your marketing strategy, you will be able to identify what is working and what is not. This will give you the chance to make changes and improve the marketing plan. If you stay committed to the order of operations for marketing success, there is a good chance you will bring success to your marketing efforts.

Wrapping Up

The order of operations for marketing success is an important decision for any business. 

The budget is an essential factor in determining how much you can invest in your marketing efforts, but the strategy is critical to getting an optimal return on that investment.

 The best approach to take when it comes to the order of operations for your marketing efforts is to first determine what you want to accomplish with your marketing efforts. Once you’ve determined your goals, you can begin to break down the budget and strategy that aligns with those goals.

And if you’re ready to develop a strategy for your business, we’re here to help. 

Our Fractional CMOs are skilled in taking what can be a complex process and distilling it down into the exact hands-on marketing help you’ve been looking for.

Best of all, when we partner on the C-Suite, our marketing experts fully engage with your company, aligning your sales with your marketing efforts, and giving you clarity for continued, predictable growth.

Brandie Allen-Rezac has over 30 years’ experience in corporate marketing working at both Fortune 500 and small businesses.

Throughout her career, she has helped B2B organizations implementing proven marketing solutions in order to drive revenue growth.

Connect with Brandie and find out how she can help your business scale to the next level:

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