As the financial year draws to a close, many school marketers are shifting their attention to setting their budgets for the next twelve months. Due to the flow-on effects of COVID-19 your marketing team may even be preparing to operate with more limited funds or a smaller team than you've had previously. So where do you begin?

In this post, we'll take you through the five steps of setting your school marketing budget, and we'll provide you with some tools and resources to help you out!

1. Remember your marketing goals

Earlier in the year, you probably set your marketing goals for 2020. While many things around you have changed, hopefully the big objectives at the heart of your marketing plans have not. Common marketing goals include:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Supporting your admissions team to drive enrollments leads
  • Ongoing brand management
  • Improving parent/school communication.

While some of your plans might be put on hold for the time being, it's important throughout the whole budgeting process that you keep your big goals front and centre.

2. List your fixed costs 

This is the most straightforward step in the process, where you work with your finance team to determine all your operational costs over the past 12 months. This may include software costs, website hosting, branded merchandise, printing costs, contractor fees, staff salaries, or any other payments that your finance team draws from your marketing budget. This will give you a realistic starting point for how much it currently costs to operate your team.

3. Work out which investments deliver a positive ROI

After you've listed out all of your marketing costs, it's tempting to start 'cutting the fat' and eliminating the marketing investments that cost you the most money. Instead, spend your time figuring out which of your marketing investments are delivering you a positive return on investment (ROI). To do this, you'll need to ask questions, such as:

  • Does this investment contribute to my overall marketing goals?
  • Does it save my team time and/or resources? Can I quantify the time or resources that it saves?
  • Does this investment generate leads? How many leads per month does it generate? How much is the cost of generating these leads?

If you realise some investments are not helping you accomplish your goals, or saving your team time or resources, consider whether this investment is worth continuing. Remember that most marketing investments build over time and may take a few years to deliver a positive ROI.

4. Consider whether you need additional resources

Reflect on your past year — did you have the resources that you needed to achieve all of your marketing goals? Do you need additional staff members, new contractors or even new software? 

If you're planning on running any big marketing campaigns this year, take that into consideration as well. Note down the paid channels that you will be using to promote your campaigns, including:

  • traditional media — including print advertising or direct mail, TV or radio advertising
  • digital channels — social media or PPC advertising
  • events

5. Put it all together

The final step in budgeting is to settle on a number that will allow you to accomplish all of the above (and maybe a little extra to cover any unexpected costs that come up). Budgeting isn't an exact science, but with a bit of research, you can do your best to come up with a solid number that you can stick to for the year.

How have you been setting your budgets in preparation for the next financial year? Do you have any tips or tricks you can share? Get in touch and let us know!

Published 31 July 2020