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Once again, it is that time of year... when marketing departments are busily preparing next year's budget. As we all know, chances are you won't be able to get everything you're asking for. But, believe it or not, this may actually be a good thing.

Take it as an opportunity to re-evaluate what you have been doing and how you have been investing your marketing dollars. There is always a way to do more with less.

To help you get started, here are some common marketing budget drainers to avoid.

Marketing Waste No. 1: Spending money to reach the wrong people

The biggest waste in marketing is spending money on activities that reach the wrong audience. This is especially an issue for B2B companies that have a limited target market (how many Global 2000 companies are there?). Advertising and large tradeshows tend to be the biggest budget items, yet much of the audience is often off target. You will get much higher return for your marketing dollars by going directly to the companies and individuals that can purchase your product.

Building a database of your target market prospects is not an overnight proposition, but it will be the best marketing investment you've ever made. See more about it in "Reverse-Engineer Your Marketing."

Marketing Waste No. 2: Generating leads that Sales doesn't want

The second-largest waste is generating leads that Sales will never follow up on. It is way too common to hear Marketing complain that Sales doesn't follow up on its leads, while Sales complains that Marketing leads are a waste of time. Both have to agree on what constitutes a good lead, and both sides have to be accountable for their share of the equation: Marketing for generating "good" leads, Sales for following up on them.

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Eran Livneh (elivneh@MarketCapture.com) is president of MarketCapture (www.MarketCapture.com), which provides results-based marketing services to B2B software companies. He also publishes the MarketCapture blog.