Taking one of our benchmark surveys? The following definitions and examples should help out as you categorize your marketing spend to match SiriusDecisions' definitions. Doing so will provide an apples-to-apples comparison when compared against your peer group.
PROGRAMS: these include all costs associated with specific marketing awareness, demand creation and sales enablement tactics and deliverables such as events (third party or company controlled), meetings, content creation, list rentals, third-party telemarketing, keyword purchases, various types of advertisements, PR & AR, channel marketing etc. These costs include any spend required to complete the tactics including any T&E attributed to a specific event, project or deliverable, as well as any project-based ad hoc spend on external services providers that helped complete a project. Also, contractors that engage more on an ad-hoc basis or are short-term, project based, should be treated as a programs expense.
PERSONNEL: these include all marketing personnel salary, bonus and benefits expenses, as well as any non-program specific T&E. If T&E cannot be associated with completion of a specific event or program, then it is considered non-program specific and should be viewed and accounted for as part of personnel costs. This category also includes any spend on contractors that are long-term and/or engage on an on-going basis and have responsibilities over specific areas.
SYSTEMS/TOOLS: These include all costs associated with any systems, tools or platforms used by marketing staff. This includes marketing automation platforms, marketing resource management systems, business intelligence tools, sales force automation systems (if used by the marketing staff), and data quality or management tools.
OUTSOURCED SERVICES: These include marketing functions outsourced to an outside services provider. This is not ad hoc project based work which falls under programs costs, but retainer based functional work such as outsourced public relations or creative creation project work.