Marketing Budget Surplus? 15 Smart Ways For Agencies To Use It

Sticking to a marketing budget is one important way of ensuring an agency’s long-term success. Going over this budget, especially unexpectedly, can strain your processes and resources. On the other hand, finding you have a surplus in the marketing budget offers greater opportunity and flexibility moving forward.

If your agency has extra funds to spare in its marketing budget, you’ll want to use that money wisely. To help, members of Forbes Agency Council shared 15 smart ways to invest your surplus marketing budget to generate maximum returns.

1. Stipends For Continued Learning

I firmly believe investing in your team is one of the most important things you can do as a business owner. I set aside stipends for everyone on my team to use throughout the year on continued learning. If we were to have a surplus in our own marketing budget, I would find additional ways to invest it back into my team. – Marilyn Cowley, PREM – PR & Social

2. Thought Leadership Initiatives

Invest in developing your own position of authority around your niche or specialty. You have to teach to truly be an authority, so launch a podcast, write a book, get the video equipment you need to launch a weekly video tutorial, etc. Take a strong stand and share it with the world by teaching what you know. This will differentiate your agency and attract right-fit clients! – Drew McLellan, Agency Management Institute

3. An Internal Agency Platform

I am a huge believer in agencies not only servicing clients but also creating marquee, in-house opportunities that are owned and operated by the agency. Should your agency have a surplus, I would recommend investing your budget into building out your own platform to showcase your talents, attributes, accolades and more, giving you a new tool for business development as well as for inducing the FOMO (fear of missing out) effect. – Olivia Ormos, OO & CO

4. Whatever Senior Leaders Choose

Make a short list of potential uses for the surplus. Charitable donations, meaningful client gifts, practical customer or prospect research, bonuses for deserving team members and technology investments are all sound choices. Then, ask your senior leaders to weigh in on their top picks and allocations. You’ll not only be spending wisely, but also building engagement and a positive culture. – Nancy A Shenker, theONswitch

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

5. Research And Development

We should always invest in growth, but growth comes in various shapes and sizes. The way for an agency to truly stand out isn’t as simple as generating more customers. It’s building things that can solve real problems for you, your customers and prospects. We’ve consistently seen the best results generated when we invest in our own products and technology. Investing in research and development is key. – Bhanuka Harischandra, Surge Global

6. Experiments With New Offerings

We like to try new ideas out on ourselves before we roll them out to our customers. And when we have a surplus, we like to devise and test new “crazy” ideas that we can eventually offer to our customers. Since these new ideas are untested, we don’t want to experiment on our client’s dime; so we use our money instead. – David Gaz, The Bureau Of Small Projects

7. The Employee Experience

Consider how you might apply any surplus funds to strengthen your own brand by investing in your company culture and employee experience. Happy team members who have the tools and facilities they need to do great work will likely stay with your company longer and commit to an even higher level of performance. Your customers will feel that positivity, too. – Scott Greggory, MadAveGroup

8. Unconventional Advertising Platforms

When there is a surplus in your marketing budget, it will be wise to explore unconventional and new advertising platforms (e.g., esports, multi-channel networks, etc.). More often than not, brands follow the standard template of marketing, which will make it tough to differentiate themselves from their competitors. – Roy Kek, DIFY

9. Bonus Competitions

While it completely depends on the agency’s goals (and the economic climate, no doubt), a way to achieve growth and give back to your team is through bonus competitions. Creating a competition around upsells, new sales or client review and retention is a great way to engage your entire team, improve your bottom line and expend that surplus budget. Triple win! – Danny Shepherd, Titan Growth

10. Team Recognition And Rewards

Put the surplus in an escrow account and use it for bonuses, wage increases and just taking overall care of your team. These are the people who have your back and make your agency what it is, so make sure that they are rewarded and recognized accordingly. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

11. Real Consumer Insights

Focus on consumer insights, and then turn them into action. Sure, there are countless reports, podcasts and articles you can scour to develop a plan, but if dollars are available, talk to real customers—now! They’ll tell you where they would like to see a brand go and grow in the coming year. Listen intently, apply the knowledge and act. – Dave Wendland, Hamacher Resource Group

12. Award Applications And Paid Search Efforts

One thing you can do is look to see if there are additional awards programs in which you can participate. Agencies are judged on their work, and winning awards is a great way to show that yours is good. I would also look into expanding your paid search efforts. Maybe select a couple of additional keywords, or invest in a keyword that is normally beyond your reach. – Jodi Amendola, Amendola Communications

13. New Content Types

Most brands will have a set budget for specific types of content throughout the year. However, consumer and buyer preferences are continually changing. The Covid-19 pandemic has created a boom in video marketing, with platforms such as TikTok and YouTube thriving. With a surplus, it is the perfect time to try new content types that might help you connect with audiences in new, more modern ways. – Jonas Muthoni, Deviate Agency

14. Public Relations

The best thing to do is invest in PR, as it has many benefits. Publicity can help differentiate your product or service while generating leads and sales for you, often overnight. There’s also the benefit of boosting your SEO efforts through a PR campaign, which will allow you to improve your ranking, too. – Adrian Falk, Believe Advertising & PR

15. Content Creation

Finance management is crucial when operating a successful business. Leaders prepare for possible deficiencies within their budget, but what about an unexpected surplus? Agencies who experience a surplus within their marketing budget should invest in content creation. People are looking for different angles and perspectives that they can apply. Investing in this creates a story that educates and inspires. – Sarah Tourville, Media Frenzy Global

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