Top Tips on Budgeting with Stephanie Craft


When Stephanie Craft, Principal of MARKETLINK, started in the AEC industry, she learned a very important lesson from her first boss. “As we would plan our marketing activities, he always wanted to know associated costs so he could plan for the company budget. That way, he had concrete information for answering his partner’s questions.”

The practice made so much sense to Stephanie, that she has continued it ever since: she includes an associated budget for each tactic in the strategic plan, calendared out by month.

Stephanie, who has an MBA, is a numbers-driven pragmatist. Here’s what she wants all AEC professionals to know about marketing budgeting:

ALWAYS have a Marketing Budget

Just as putting a goal on paper increases the chances of it happening, it’s important to assign dollars to those same goals. From tracking return on investment and benchmarking against industry standards to building credibility within your firm, the benefits are numerous. Don’t fall into the trap of simply spending what you spent last year - assign dollars to specific categories or associated marketing tactics. ALWAYS have a marketing budget!

Match Your Budget to Your Goals

At MARKETLINK, we work with our clients to ensure their plans and budgets meet the overarching marketing and business development goals. “It’s all about starting with a company’s revenue goal and figuring out how their market sectors, clients and projects will feed into that goal,” explains Stephanie. This means evaluating the cost of a tactic and comparing it to what we expect it will achieve in our goals. If the cost is too high for its expected results, then it gets replaced. For Stephanie, it’s a brain teaser. “When the numbers don’t work, I really enjoy finding alternatives.”

Trust Your Wise Stewards

Trust your marketing leader to manage the budget. Know that he or she will be a wise steward of your firm’s resources. “My experience with marketing staff has been that they treat the budget like it’s their own money and are very conscientious of how it’s spent,” Stephanie asserts. Trust that you are in good hands.

Set Yourself Up for Ease of Tracking

Work with Accounting to track marketing expenses as specifically as you want them. Some firms may think they only want one marketing code, but when they receive reports without details on the marketing expenses, they often reconsider. Set yourself up for success by determining and add codes where needed so when you run reports, you can see your specific costs.

These four steps may take a bit of effort to implement, but the pay-off is immense. Create a budget based on your goals for each year, then track what you spend and how those expenditures have met your firm’s goals. You’ll be surprised at the knowledge you gain!

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