Posted: by Moyra Burke-Smith

Itís this time of year that most marketing departments get their budget for the next financial year, so itís essential to plan that budget carefully to ensure youíre getting the best value and the best results. Yes you canít plan for everything, however there are ways to stretch your budget further if you plan ahead.

Often opportunities arise throughout the year and thatís great if you are placed to take advantage of them, but you can only do that if youíve planned your budget and have a contingency fund. I know this is almost unheard of in this day of budget caution, an extra pot of money? How can it be?

First you have to look at all the marketing you know youíre going to do, so all the Expos youíre going to attend, the communications campaigns, the customer reward promotions, sponsorships etc. All the ‘have to’ things you know you need to do.

Then look at the crossovers in marketing materials and merchandise you can identify between these activities. For example, if you attend 4 expos throughout the year then look at the attendance numbers for last yearís events and bulk buy your merchandise rather than buy 4 times a year. You can save substantial amounts by buying in bulk rather than realising youíve run out of something 2 weeks before the event and having to pay for an express service.

If you have brochures of flyers that donít date then order your years supply in one go, the run on costs are minimal, so even if you over order and have a few left over at the end of the year youíve still saved. Those materials left over may even help with an additional end of year campaign or be used at those unplanned for events you always want to take advantage of but donít have the materials available to do so.

At this time of year I always make myself popular with clients by wishing them a Merry Christmas. For most of us itís something weíre not ready to be thinking of, but in marketing terms itís the perfect time to be planning.

Imagine a November without that mad Ďseat of the pantsí rushing around? Use this time now to get the artwork done without the stress of a tight deadline. Choose your client gifts and merchandise knowing you have time to choose wisely and explore a variety of ideas to find the perfect one that fits with your brand. Avoid that knee jerk choice that you may later regret.

By planning now you can also take advantage of price points for having 12 weeks production lead time. Youíll save money and are guaranteed to have your materials well in time for Christmas, leaving you time to plan the Christmas party.

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