As the last couple of years have shown us, the only thing we can rely on is change, according to The Agency president Rainy Hake Austin. Clear out some time on the calendar to put the necessary thought into nailing down your marketing budget this year so that you’re ready to communicate through whatever’s next.

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I love a spreadsheet, a set of thoughtful goals and a strategic plan — I undergo a thorough planning session at the close of the year in preparation for what’s ahead, both in my personal and professional life. I encourage agents to do the same, especially when it comes to devising an effective marketing budget.

With so many balls in the air, it can be challenging for agents to know where to put their energy — and dollars — in order to plant the seeds for the best business outcomes. Here are five tips that will help you as you create your marketing budget and your best year yet.

Set your goals.

Think of this budget as a suitcase you’re packing for a big trip; you must know where you want to go and what you want to do in order to pack the right things, right? You need the relevant bits and pieces that will back up your overall marketing goals and bring results to fruition.

With that said, where are you going in your business this year? What’s the destination? How do you want your business to grow? Are you focused on numbers? Or are you trying to get grounded in the business, learn and expand your network?

Before even thinking about marketing, consider your purpose and goals — and then drill down into the details of how you’re going to accomplish them.

Think about your audience (and where you’ll find them).

If you’ve done some work around your personal brand, you’ve probably thought a lot about who your client is. So, align that with your marketing efforts.

  • Who do you want to reach in the next year?
  • Are they receiving and reading magazines and print ads?
  • Only looking online?

For example, if you have a child in elementary school and you’re focusing on connecting with other parents, you may want to lean your marketing dollars into sponsorship opportunities at the school. If your expertise lies with sports players relocating for their jobs, think about running an ad at a sporting event. Know yourself and who you’re talking to. 

Consider your big-picture budget. 

When hashing out your marketing budget, consider all the other things you need to spend money on, too. Marketing is only a piece of the pie, so don’t throw too much money toward it if you desperately need to hire an assistant or enroll in key training in the art of negotiation. Take a holistic approach to each line item and be strategic in determining your priorities.

Understand the capabilities (and needs) of your team. 

This might seem rudimentary, but when crafting your budget and thinking about your marketing goals, it’s important to be aware of how achievable they are when it comes to your team’s bandwidth. What’s the sentiment/morale level of your current team? Do they need more support to make these goals a reality? Do you need to bring on freelancers to achieve these goals at the pace you are desiring?

Make space for the unknown.

When packing for a trip, it’s often wise to include a few security items in case unexpected circumstances or events occur. So, when it comes to marketing, make sure to pack some backup plans in your bag. If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s that things can change quickly.

Having a plan is essential, but bear in mind that budgets can shift, and know where you can restrict your marketing — or would like to expand — if cash flow changes. Be flexible and ready to adapt as needed. Your mindset is a huge aspect of that.

Going into the year aware that your perfect plan might need to be thrown out the window if surprises arise, will make it easier and more successful if that should happen.

Clear out some time on your calendar to put the necessary thought into your marketing budget this year. As we’re in the swing of a shifting market, it’s a great time to let go of old ways and try something new — so, dive in and pack that metaphorical bag with whatever marketing resources you need to get to your 2023 destination.

Rainy Hake Austin is President of The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with her on Instagram.

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