Why are expectations always bigger than the budget?

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Most management folks expect good results from their marketing programs… who wouldn’t! But when it comes to approving the budget, there’s a gap between management’s expectations of what it should cost and their expectations of results. And the expected results almost always exceed cost expectations.

Bean-counter types will look at each element and want to understand it’s contribution to results. Unfortunately, they don’t understand how integrated marketing really works. It’s not about the parts… it’s about the whole. It’s not about determining which element delivers the most results and then going with that element. Or which element costs the least.

Integrated marketing is about investing in the combination of elements that have the greatest probability to deliver the best results on a sustainable basis at a reasonable price. (Sorry about that lengthy business school type answer.) Finding the right combination depends on a number of things including: who your audience is and where to find them; your campaign objective and also your target’s phase in the buying cycle (awareness, acquisition, conversion retention or loyalty).

And this involves a financial committment that’s sustainable.

Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t measure the results from each element. You definitely should monitor each element. But the success of the campaign should be measured on the whole.

If you’re planning an integrated program, and management won’t approve what you believe is a reasonable budget, then don’t try to spread your budget too thin. Come up with a smaller combination that you can sustain.

But remind management to adjust their expectations accordingly.

Do you have this problem? Tell us about it.

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