What Comes First – Marketing Goals, Plan or Budget?

What Comes First - Marketing Budget or Marketing Goals?

When a destination markets itself strategically and effectively, it shows. Solid destination marketing and sufficient investment in travel and tourism promotion 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 Efforts Based on Goals

Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) often ask if they should determine the scope of their marketing plan by what their destination marketing budget will allow or if they should define and prioritize goals first. When this question comes up, our advice is to always formulate the goals of the marketing efforts first and then prioritize and plan exactly how to budget the implementation of your marketing plan.

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

A strong Marketing Action Plan (MAP) is a detailed roadmap that prioritizes your audiences, their roles, their required beliefs, and (then) the marketing strategies and  tactics – helping you have a deliberate (and referenceable) plan for marketing success. Your MAP will prioritize and help set the marketing budget and keeps your entire team focused on specific goals – it’s a critical resource for your DMO.

Once you’ve developed a MAP that you feel confident will convert prospects into loyal visitors, build your marketing budget from the bottom up. Prioritize these processes and programs based on projected ROI (how many potential visitors who are likely to generate overnight stays will that effort reach, and how many of those potential visitors will convert). 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 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 doesn’t guarantee future success. Making a plan, reviewing it often and keeping a pulse on new and emerging trends that will influence your key target groups is critical.

Having worked closely with DMOs over the years, we know that every destination has a limit to the dollars they can spend on branding and marketing campaigns. But efforts to improve public image, attract new visitors and increase overnight stays are not possible without strategic planning and the right investment. And a Marketing Action Plan will help get you on your way with confidence.

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