Good Habit No. 3 for Your Marketing Budget: Allocate Dollars to Creative

39802871In the first two good habits for your marketing budget, we talked about annual planning and media buys. While your accounting team may have loved those first two (mostly due to the planning and performance-tracking aspect that comes with both of these), they aren’t going to like the last good habit as much: investing in creative.

Those number-jockeys — and I mean that as kindly as I can — don’t like investing in creative. It’s difficult to get a direct idea about the return on investment of creative efforts. But ask anyone who has worked a 4-year-old trade show booth with print collateral originally printed in 2008 how they feel about updating their creative and you’ll get a pretty consistent answer: Yes, please.

Most universities have two separate funds that dictate their spending: One is an operating budget and one is a capital budget. Operating budget is everything it takes to run the university day to day. It’s shifted from year to year based on a number of factors, including enrollment and other cost projections.

The capital budget is typically a steady, long-term fund that’s spent on the physical infrastructure of the university. So even during the worst of the recession years, it’s likely your local university was spending money on remodeling old buildings and even building new ones.

Creative is a lot like those capital projects. It’s the backbone of your marketing, and once it’s been created, it’s easy to take it for granted. But you should be reinvesting in creative every year when you make your annual marketing plan.

It gives you the opportunity to keep funding the creation and building out of new creative pieces. That means you shouldn’t have any non-refreshed collateral out there from 2011. Maybe you’ll slowly update your trade show booth piece by piece. Or your entire brand may need to be refreshed at some point.

That constant investment means you won’t wake up in 2020 looking at the same stuff you have today and realizing that you’re now going to have to spend some major money on creating nearly everything from scratch.

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