Whether your team is planning for next year’s budget, scoping out a new product launch, or exploring a new campaign, you are going to need creative to bring the hard work of your team to market and connect with customers. However, far too often, teams don’t remember to budget for creative, leaving your team scrambling at the last minute or, worse, losing significant momentum and attention for new launches. To help you and your team avoid this situation in the future, here are four things to consider when budgeting for creative projects: 


As the great Howard Stark once said, “No amount of money ever bought a second of time”. Talented in-house teams are commonly stretched too thin or don’t have the bandwidth to provide the time and attention needed to bring your creative to the next level. Just because your team CAN do something doesn’t mean they SHOULD. 

The opportunity cost of diverting your team’s attention toward special projects can be high compared to the work needed to “keep the lights on.” Additionally, many in-house teams are generalist by design and, therefore, may be unable to deliver excellence in specific technical areas like animation. Outsourcing to creative teams who specialize in particular areas, like Kru Creative, is an ideal solution because you can buy your team time and talent. 

As a general rule of thumb, teams should IDEALLY plan for 6-9 weeks for most medium to large-sized projects from kickoff to final deliverables. While it is possible to have creative deliverables in a shorter period, as each week passes, you are losing time for people to THINK and only leave them to DO. Projects need more time for creative teams to work out concepts to avoid making expensive mistakes. You should factor in your decision-making and approval process as it relates to the project timeline as well. If you don’t have the time and can’t make the time for decisions, you should reconsider your desire for creative. 

Lastly, consider the need to work side by side with a creative team throughout the year to test create on different channels with different CTA’s and combinations to drive the results you are looking for. 


In today’s content-hungry environment, there are many options on the creative menu. If your team doesn’t take time to understand the specific tastes of your audience and your team’s ability to deliver various flavors, then the options can become overwhelming. 

Whether you are pursuing a new idea or wanting to expand on an existing one, it is highly beneficial to work backward from the result you are looking for to focus not only on the creative but also the end goal as it relates to your broader company goals. Understanding how your team plans to distribute and promote the creative in line with those goals can be almost as important as the creative itself. 

For example, let’s say your team wants to start a podcast to increase awareness and influence in your market. How are you going to measure that? Can you allocate any ad budget to the promotion? Would your target audience allocate 15, 30, or 60 minutes to hear you talk? What is in it for them? Can your team plan and budget to pull compelling audio clips and other companion content for promotion? Or will a few email blasts and mentions in the newsletter get the job done? And will the audio quality be something an audience would dedicate time to? Spoiler alert: your subpar echo-filled zoom-quality audio won’t keep audiences engaged. 

Once you understand your overall goals and purpose, we highly recommend fighting the urge to look for the most hyped or “bro-moted” AI tool that will magically transform any average Joe with a keyboard into a creative wizard. While AI tools are opening up tremendous possibilities for improved workflows, they can also create a mess for many enthusiast thrifty DIY enthusiasts. If teams need to know what they are doing, they can quickly spend valuable time playing around, running into dead ends, or producing subpar creative. 

Regardless of technological enhancements, companies will always be better positioned to work with teams that specialize and dedicate their time to their crafts. Investing in long-term partnerships provides your company the ability to expand on mediums to deliver continued creative improvements so they can focus on their core strengths.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Measuring ROI during initial creative conversations is like measuring the size of a river from the humble headwaters. The best creative endeavors start as ideas that are given time and resources to develop and are adjusted to accomplish the end goals. The challenge for any marketing and creative team relationship is to find the right balance between creative energy and time with results in mind. 

To find the balance, I recommend that teams use pragmatism as a scale. For example, how practical is it to invest 12 weeks and tens of thousands of dollars on a beautiful 2-minute spot that will be used and seen once? With a bit of planning ahead of time, could the team figure out how to use segments of that video for an ongoing campaign? Can you pull out GIF’s, 10-second clips, and beautiful stills for social media, email, and sales materials? Can the creative have built-in iteration for changes in colors and graphics? 

In addition to pragmatism, I recommend understanding how much time and ad budget will be allocated to the produced creative. Is it the best idea to spend 10% of your marketing budget on a new piece of creative that will only be seen by an audience a few times and has no chance of extending beyond your earned media? And will that give you the best ROI? To be clear, we all operate in uncertain environments, and risks need to be taken in order to achieve success. I am arguing forethought instead of emboldened, expensive enthusiasm. 

Funding Sources

Marketing budgets are becoming increasingly tight and, sadly, are often the first victims of reduction efforts. It is always amusing to see companies actively handicap their future results by underfunding their bold ambitions. I have discovered that budgets are often more about context and association than line items. 

For example, attaching spending toward product launches is far easier to fund than just plain ole vanilla “marketing.” Tapping into innovation or research funds can also better contextualize what the efforts are trying to accomplish. Removing the barriers between marketing and sales by focusing on the commercial funnel from awareness to closed sales can also give proper context for how items are connected. A pragmatic approach that delivers creative consistently throughout the funnel can help make the case for both sales and marketing budgets to be allocated toward efforts. 

The easiest way to make the case for marketing budgets and specifically creative is for teams to be involved as early as possible in product development. When the creative roots trace back to the origins of the product blueprints, they will have the same sources of energy and resources. Additionally, previews of creative deliverables can be much-needed assets to help build internal momentum and enthusiasm needed to accomplish the ambitious goals and market impact of the product. When need and emotion intersect, creative thrives, and product development is an ideal environment. 

Wait, what about the hard costs?!?

Find yourself searching for a list of average costs for creative projects? You will likely be in a constant state of confusion as there is a lot of volatility in the creative market because it is book-ended by naive green freelancers hungry for any work and prestigious award-winning companies. Additionally, if you ask companies, “What does a video cost?” and base your budget on that, you may be setting a trap for your future self. Commonly, the scope creep that can happen from “average cost” to “this is what we want” can be significant and understandingly increase project costs. However, you can save your future self by coming to a creative team with a clear vision, known medium, and result, and then you will be in a better position to understand and create a realistic budget.

The old adage of “good, fast, and cheap…pick two” applies. Remember, creative projects are just as much about communication, organization, professionalism, and timeliness as they are about talent. At Kru Creative, we pride ourselves on bringing respect to the creative process by balancing talent, professionalism, and pragmatism to become a trusted vendor for creative deliverables.

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