Architecture, Engineer, and Contractor Marketing Budgets

November 2, 2015

It’s that time of the year to start putting your 2016 marketing budget and plan together. (More on the marketing plan here.) A marketing budget allows you to strategically place your company and its finances in the right places. It also allows you to really think about what direction your company will go in 2016 from a marketing perspective. It’s important to know where you are spending your marketing dollars and the return on your investment. If you don’t track you, you won’t know.

After completing your marketing plan, it’s time to put pen to paper. Break your marketing budget into 8-10 categories. You don’t have to have some fancy software. Good old Excel will do the job. These categories will cover what you want to include in your budgeted line items:

  • Memberships – These are memberships that focus on your clients’ industries and helping their businesses move forward. Find out what organizations your clients are involved and get involved. (More on that here.) Specific industry organizations (AIA, AGC, ABC, ACEC, IES, SEAKM, ASHRAE, etc.) may or may not be included here. This is up to how and where you want to track that information.
  • Trade shows – This could be attending, exhibiting, or sponsoring a conference which would include hospitality suite, door prize, and/or trade show booth.
  • Sponsorships – These can be hole sponsors at a golf tournament, school fundraisers, client hosted event or community service donation.
  • Promotional products – All your company swag and client gifts. You may or may not include employee swag here too.
  • Advertising – these would include advertisements in trade publications, resource guides, membership directories, online, and newspapers.
  • Client entertainment – These could be open houses, lunch and learns, training, or special dinners or conferences.
  • Internal marketing (i.e. employee events) – Company picnic, Appreciation event, and/or Christmas party
  • Communication marketing collateral – All your company brochures. This also includes proposals and interviews. These are any graphics, printing, or other creative marketing pieces. This would also include website and social media (hosting, updating content or design, videos, content marketing, dashboards, measurement tools)

Expanded AEC Outstanding Service Marketing Budget 2016

Within these categories you can breakdown into detail even more as I’ve explained next to each one above. Again, this allows you to really see where you are investing your money. You can usually pull reports from your accounting department to give you an idea of what you’ve spent in the past. If this is not the case, you may have to do additional research to find out. Most of the time you can find membership, sponsorship, and trade show fees on the respective organization website. None of your marketing budget includes labor unless you are utilizing an outside consultant.

This budget should be given to your CFO or controller for budgeting purposes, too. They will appreciate you giving it to them. It also gives you an out to all those people who call and want a donation for something that really doesn’t make sense for your marketing strategy.

Budgeting is not always fun but gives you perimeters to follow and an idea of how you are spending your money. It helps you stay in alignment with your marketing strategy and keeps you focused. Having a plan and adhering to it takes discipline.

For your assistance in putting together your budget, I have assembled an extensive marketing budget and a simple marketing budget. Depending on your budget and your staff, you’ll want to choose one that is most easy for you and your staff to track. I have put together an extensive marketing budget here and a simple marketing budget here.