Creating a marketing budget can be a daunting task. There is both art and science required with one endgame in mind – obtaining the maximum ROI possible. But how do you do that, especially when the measurements of success can be very difficult to ascertain? Well, sometimes the best way to decide what you should do is to take a look at what you should never do. And with that said, here are the Top 5 Mistakes to make sure you avoid them.

5. Making A Big Spend Based On External Information

Anybody with a marketing budget – or anybody close to anybody with a budget – is bombarded with messages from salespeople claiming to have a magic bullet solution to all problems. They’ll show you graphs, charts, infographics – all claiming extraordinary “typical” ROI and the value you’ll receive – most likely to justify a cost. Take this type of a projection with a Rock of Gibraltar-sized grain of salt. Sometimes the shiniest car on the lot has the worst engine under the hood. As Mark Twain once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Today this is truer than ever.

4. Going With Your Gut

While there is absolutely something to be said for trusting your instincts, remember that there is a science to marketing that should not be ignored. While you should be careful trusting external data, there is data out there that you can trust: Your Data. What worked last year? What didn’t? You should be able to analyze that information to help inform your decisions about where to spend in the future. Acting on hunches is reckless, especially when money is involved. Acting on information is prudent. Marketing managers that err on the side of the latter do not suffer the burn-out typical of the lesser prepared.

3. Ignoring Trends

Repeat after me: “The trend is your friend.” Marketing is forward looking. As we just said, last year’s data is important, but only for shaping informed decisions about next year. This is where the aforementioned “art” enters the picture. Trends can be identified by statistical analysis, but it’s the companies that have a “feel” for where things are going that really get ahead. Pay attention to where things are going, what new marketing platforms, capabilities, and tactics are emerging – and make sure you don’t get stuck in your ways. Remember, while the vast majority of us have never skinned a cat (I hope), there’s allegedly more than one way to do it.

2. Overspending On Campaigns

Most marketing managers have a budget, get bids and slice & dice things up from there. The savvy ones go back to their vendors armed with information, and then work the price down based on previous data and comparable data. Remember: you’re the customer. Not only are you always right, but you also always have the right to negotiate your price. If an external marketing campaign previously exceeded your expectations, you happily pay their fee the next year. But for the ones that didn’t… rub their noses in it a little. Not only will they bring their price down, but they will also work harder for you to win your business in future years. It’s good for you, and believe it or not, it’s good for them – and it leads to stronger professional relationships & networks.

1. Bowing To External Pressures

This may not seem like an obvious problem, and you are almost certainly questioning why this is the top item on this list.  But consider the following: Nearly all marketing budgets need approval. Most people aim to please – especially up the chain. If you want to get your budget approved, you need your boss to approve it. So what is the mistake to avoid? Preparing a budget that you think a boss wants to see. Remember, they don’t know what they want to see. That’s what they hired you for. If you trust your process and arm yourself with the correct proposal (remember, a mix of art and science) not only will will you end up with a better plan, but you’ll feel savvier and empowered. Trust in yourself and the rest will fall into place.

About Scott Hofman

Scott Hofman has over 15 years of sales and marketing experience in financial services and is the son of a JPL rocket scientist, so yeah, he's underperformed thus far in life.