What Comes First—Marketing Goals, Plan or Budget?

By Jim Leonard

What Comes First—Marketing Goals, Plan or Budget?

Always formulate the goals of the marketing efforts first and then prioritize and plan exactly how to budget the implementation of your Marketing Action Plan.

When a destination markets itself strategically and effectively, it shows. Solid destination marketing and management attracts more visitors whose spending helps create jobs, fuel the local economy and generate tax revenue supporting vital public services. In turn, this helps give local residents a better quality of life. So, how do you begin to create a realistic plan of action?

Prioritize Marketing and Management Efforts Based on Goals

Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) often ask if they should determine the scope of their marketing plan by what their budget will allow or if they should define and prioritize goals first. Our advice is to always formulate the goals of the marketing efforts first and then prioritize and plan exactly how to meet the objectives of your goals.

Following a well-defined plan will help ensure you’re spending your funds wisely and appropriately.

A strong Marketing Action Plan (MAP) is a detailed road map that prioritizes your audiences, their roles, their required beliefs, and (then) the strategies and tactics for influencing them—ensuring you have a deliberate plan for growing visitation in your destination. Your MAP will help prioritize your budget and keep your entire (internal and outsourced) team focused on specific goals. It’s a critical resource for your DMO. Once you’ve developed a MAP that you are confident will convert prospects into loyal visitors, build your marketing budget from the bottom up. Prioritize the identified processes and programs based on projected ROI (how many potential overnight stays will that effort generate). If the budget number is higher than you’re comfortable with for the return, take another look at the projected outcome and the strategies and programs you’ve chosen. And reevaluate. When DMOs operate from a budget only—without a written plan to accompany it, they become tactically focused—simply figuring out how to spend a defined marketing budget vs. thinking about goals and strategies first. As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” That’s exactly why strategic planning is critical for every destination—no matter the size.

Allow For Process Evaluation And Evolution So Your Marketing and Destination Management Efforts Can Be Adaptive

The world today is constantly evolving with new opportunities to reach your target markets. Simply repeating what has worked for you in the past is not a strategy for future success. Making a plan, reviewing it often and keeping a pulse on new and emerging opportunities that can influence your key target groups is critical. Having worked closely with DMOs over many years, we know that every destination has a limit to the dollars they can spend. But efforts to improve public image, attract new visitors and increase overnight stays are not possible without strategic planning and the right investments. A Marketing Action Plan will help get you on your way with confidence. To help you facilitate your own Marketing Action Plan, you can access free resources from the list below.

  1. Destination Marketing Action Planning -- It's Time to Tune-Up
  2. Destination Marketing Action Plan Cheat Sheet
  3. Destination Marketing Action Plan Worksheet
  4. Destination Marketing Action Plan Workbook

If you'd like to discuss ways Stamp can assist you in developing your MAP, email Susan Bryan at Susan@StampIdeas.com.