Build your first marketing plan and budget with this spreadsheet

Jul 06th, 2018
By Netta Kivilis

Early-stage B2B startups often have been running some marketing experiments, perhaps even seeing some initial success, but are unsure how to take the next step. How do you tie the various campaigns and outcomes into one coherent marketing plan? Even more importantly, how do you tie marketing efforts, often measured by leads or MQLs, to top-line company goals, measured by revenue (MRR / ARR) and number of deals?

Then comes the end of the year, and with it, financial planning. The company sets revenue and growth goals for the following year, and wants to allocate some budget to marketing. How do decide what the marketing budget should be? Or, given a budget, how do you assess your – and the company’s – ability to achieve your growth goals?

The simple spreadsheet we present in this post can help you build a basic annual marketing plan, including:

  • Marketing budget
  • Budget allocation across marketing channels and headcount
  • Expected or forecasted output from each channel
  • Tying marketing output to top line company goals

You can open the spreadsheet here to follow our breakdown below.


The mechanics of the spreadsheet work by starting with the company’s ARR growth goals and backing into the number of new deals and new Sales Opportunities required to hit them. This is the “Top Down” number the marketing team will be aiming for.

Note: Sales Opportunities is our favorite primary marketing KPI (more on that in a separate post). However, for the purpose of this model, it can be replaced with other KPIs like Leads, MQLs, SQLs etc. The only thing that will need to be adjusted is the Close Rate.

In this example, the company aims to double ARR in 2018 – from $1M to $2M. With an ACV of $50K per deal, it will need to close 20 new deals in 2018, or 10 in H1.

With a 15% close rate, it means the Marketing team will need to create 133 new Sales Opportunities (out of which, 20 will become new deals).

Note that this simple model doesn’t take into account any time delay (it assumes all Opportunities opened in 2018 will be closed [won or lost] in 2018, and that no 2017 Opportunities will close in 2018).


Next, we build a “Bottom Up” marketing model by channel. We portray the campaigns we’re going to activate in each channel – in a quantitative way (“2 webinars per month”) or a qualitative way (e.g. the names of the conferences we’re going to attend).

Skeleton of our H1 marketing calendar. Note – for simplicity and brevity, our worksheet only models the first half of the year. It can be extended to the entire year using the same principles.


We then forecast — to the best of our ability — how many Sales Opportunities each campaign will generate. Our forecast can be based on historical data, industry benchmarks, or educated guesses. As time goes by, we’ll be revising the forecast based on actual data.  

Using our forecasted Close Rate, we’re then able to get to the Bottom Up number of forecasted deals — and hopefully, tweak the model in a reasonable way so the the Top Down and Bottom Up numbers match.

In this example, our Bottom Up channel model gets us to 10.8 new deals in H1 – which is just over our needed number of new deals according to the Top Down calculation (10). If we came in short, we could have added more marketing campaigns, or re-think our Opps forecasting (perhaps some campaigns will lead to more Opportunities).


The budget is also planned Bottom Up according to channel activity. We can then assess the total budget, as well as the cost to acquire a customer (CAC), to make sure they fit any Top Down constraints given to us by the CEO or CFO.

In this example, we come in at $100K total marketing spend (including headcount) for the first half of the year. With almost 11 new deals signed, our CAC is $9.3K – not bad for a $50K ACV.


Access the spreadsheet here. We’d love to hear your questions and comments – feel free to drop a comment or contact us.


About Blue Seedling

Blue Seedling works with Israeli B2B startups as a plug & play marketing team or as a complement to existing marketing capabilities. We’re “full-stack marketers” across all marketing activities: messaging and positioning, website design, sales enablement, marketing planning and budgeting, running marketing programs (webinars, content, PR, events & conferences, prospecting), generating sales opportunities, and recruiting marketing talent.

Our remote team and network include marketing managers, marketing strategy experts, copywriters, graphic design partners, a website development agency, PR agency partners, a Facebook / Google advertising expert, and a 15-person remote team.

About The Author

Netta is the founder and CEO of Blue Seedling. She loves third wave coffee, thin crust pizza, and B2B marketing.
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