“💰I distribute my budgets on auto-pilot…”

Dearest Marketing Guru,

I need your advice on budgeting. Every year, I receive a budget from my boss and I usually distribute it according to previous investments. If my budget decreases, I make cuts in various places. If my total budget increases, I add additional funds to planned campaigns or create a small budget for testing out a new platform. 

This method of budgeting is common in my organization, but sometimes I wonder if this money really produces desirable results. I asked my agency for their opinion and they provided me with an alternate budget split; however, they could not convince me why this was better. It felt like the same old guesswork. 

Guru, how should I evaluate my budgets? 
Thank you,


A marketer in need of the Guru’s help

Dear SpendingMoneySemiMindlessly, 

For a brief second there, I completely forgot to breathe while reading your message. You are so close to unlocking your full potential, my marketing friend! And you are totally 100% correct to scrutinize the method you’ve been using for allocating funds.

Hey, props to you for going to your agency for help! But, unfortunately it looks like they give out money just like your org does. On top of that, they might have a strong affinity for companies like Meta and Google… What can I say? Talk about a conflict of interest!

So let’s see how we can make you feel better about all the money you’re investing as a marketer. I’m betting your business results are tip-top since you haven’t so much as mentioned them. You’re probably doing something right! For now….

Gaining control of your budget starts with a well-defined marketing strategy. If you have one, you should know the size of your target audience. I’d like to concentrate on this aspect of your strategy for the scope of this column.

So, as a hypothetical situation: you have decided to launch an awareness campaign on platform X. You need to calculate how much money that campaign needs. Because that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? How much budget do I need to be effective?

Ah, this takes me back. In my young days as a marketer, I was focused on engagement and nothing else. But then one day, I got a new boss who had a knack for what I then called the prehistoric style of marketing. It was a true shock to my system!

“I don’t care about engagement,” she told me in one meeting on a gray Monday morning. “I want you to reach as many people as you can.”

My face scrunched up in annoyance. I was the resident tech whizz-kid of the company, and usually when I spoke about skyrocketing engagement numbers, everyone ooh-ed and ahh-ed. But this woman had clearly never seen any of the presentations I had sent her way. The nerve!

“But when folks are engaging with our posts, we know we’ve made it into their hearts and minds,” I bombastically exclaimed.”

My new boss arched an eyebrow at me. “But we haven’t reached that many of them,” she told me. “Do you know how many people you reached with your last post?”.

“90 000!” I exclaimed, “And four percent engagement!”

“But how many of that four percent made it to the store?” this lady asked me.

“I was stunned by her question, so I took in her apparel. Her crisp blazer and chic skirt were a striking contrast to my designer jeans and loud kicks.

“I inhaled deeply, convinced I had stumbled into an ultimate battle of the generations. I was determined to make my supervisor aware that times had drastically evolved.

“When they talk about it, we get free, organic reach,” I pivoted. 

“True, if they talk about it,” she replied with a condescending smile. “But you don’t know that they will.”

“We’ve had a very high engagement percentage over the last year,” I retorted. She was dismantling all my assumptions and I wasn’t happy about it.

“That’s true,” she responded with a shrug. “But you can’t assume that will remain consistent. I’d rather be sure and agree on a budget that guarantees certain reach and frequency.”

My mind imploded like a grape at that point and I’m still too mortified to spill the beans on what I said to her. Whenever we sit together on the deck of my yacht, clinking our wine glasses, and she brings it up, my face turns into a ripe tomato. But hey, we’re bosom buddies now! 

Anyway, let’s discuss this reach and frequency thing. If we want people to remember our service or product, they need to hear our message multiple times. If we want our company to remain viable, we must ensure enough people have heard that message multiple times.

It is simple, yet many marketers neglect to consider reach and frequency while budgeting. Thus, let’s go back to your awareness campaign on platform X. Are you aware of how many people you must reach? Have you decided the number of times you have to reach them?

This won’t be an exact science, I must admit, but you can at least calculate all of this to a degree that will give you a good indication of the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of your budget. 

Let us assume that you have a general idea of the size of your audience. You decide you need to reach 70% of them, and you believe it is necessary for them to be confronted with your message at least four times within two weeks in order to make an impact. 

Okay, now you can begin calculating your budget! You can take the average cost of reaching your target audience and multiply it by the number of times you want to reach them! It’s that easy. Though it’s not perfect, it’s a great starting point.

You can also do this the other way around. Take a look at your planned budget for a campaign and divide it by the required frequency. Then, see how many people you can reach with that budget.

You might find that you can only reach 30% of your intended audience! Does it sound like your budget is too low? Perhaps you need to ask for a higher budget! Or if you’re using multiple platforms within the campaign, try shifting budgets around!

Well, in a nutshell – it’s time to start from the bottom. A ‘bottom up budget!’ Crunch your numbers and make sure you have enough money for your target platform. Don’t just blindly throw money at initiatives and hope something sticks!

Speaking about throwing money at things, I’m off shopping! The weather is changing and I need a new wardrobe.

Tools that will change your life

These resources will make your life as a marketer much easier. They’re available for free. (You don’t even have to give me your data because I have no use for it!)

🔒Awareness Funnel Meditation 🙏🏼

🔒Bottom up Budget Template🙏🏼

What does 🔒 mean? It means this resource is locked for now. Don’t worry: you’ll get access to these valuable tools soon enough! 😘

Hi, I’m Angie. I was a brilliant marketing director before cashing out my stocks and retiring (very) early. Now, I answer your questions about marketing so I can feel better about myself while I relax on my yacht and pretend to write my first novel. Hey, at least I’m honest about it! Want to know more about me?

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