Many small businesses have already started their processes for budgeting for the new year and setting performance goals. Yet how many have given thought to how they will budget their resources and energies for marketing activities?

It is vital to not only set a dollar amount for how much you will invest in marketing for 2013, but also identify how you will make the most of that money and what you plan to achieve from it. This outline will have to be informed by your sales targets and operational goals, as the three are inextricably linked. Receiving input from your company’s client service representatives and other employees who have the most contact with your client base can also make it easier to understand what marketing activities would be effective in providing added value to existing clients as well as prospective ones.

Balancing a marketing mix
Before you can start to create a marketing mix of various promotional channels and activities, you have to consider what your target audience would be most receptive to. If your ideal client is older or dislikes digital communications, hosting a seminar and inviting a few experts on a given topic – such as saving for retirement or managing debt – can be a fantastic way to provide value and win loyalty from prospects and clients.

Content marketing is also gaining steam, with more companies choosing to invest time and money into creating corporate blogs that offer actionable advice to consumers while also demonstrating the expertise of their employees. As you may have noticed, The Covenant Group has invested a great deal of time to generating content for our prospective and existing clients – YOU:) Many industries, even sectors such as manufacturing and financial services, are using social media platforms as part of their effort to increase their online visibility and reach out to more potential clients.

The concept of content marketing is not a new one. For years, business owners who were experts in their fields would contribute newspaper columns or circulate printed newsletters to demonstrate their authority on a subject and offer insight for readers. These more traditional formats still have a place in the modern marketing mix, as does direct mail, printed advertising, and broadcast slots. Assess your current goals for who you want to make your clients, and use that judgement to shape how much you invest in each area.

How are you planning for your marketing efforts? What tactics do you use to assign dollar amounts to each element of the marketing mix? How are you working to create internal vs. external marketing initiatives?