As a Media Planner/Buyer, Microsoft Excel might be the best thing created not named Spotify. From quickly analyzing media metrics to creating masterful flowcharts, Excel transitions copious amounts of boring and stale numbers into an elaborate story telling device; all of which can help your business flourish.

What if I were to tell you that Excel has a function to “predict” your company’s future without you having to do the hard math? The Forecast function can help with some of the following situations:

  • Forecasting future monthly or yearly sales (ex: sales managers setting monthly sale goals for teams, local business owner forecasting monthly or yearly gross)
  • Forecasting inventory (ex: number of menus to order, number of shirts to keep in stock)
  • Forecasting seasonality (ex: what percent change is to be expected from Summer sales to Winter sales, does seasonality effect monthly direct sales)
  • Forecasting number of conversions (ex: how many conversions will be attributed from the given advertising budget, how many phone calls can we expect from a direct mail campaign, how many visits will a website have)

Being a visual person myself, I’d like to show you some examples of how the Forecast functions looks.

Scenario 1 (Business owner wanting to predict 2015 Total Sales):

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In order to use the Forecast Function, you must have two sets of known data. These two sets can be anything you’d like. In order for Excel to forecast, it needs to know what the sales were for previous years.

After entering the known data and using the Forecast function, Excel analyzes both variables to forecast what 2015 sales should look like.

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That’s it! You’ve just utilized the forecast function to give you a future snap-shot of your business. 

Scenario 2 (Media Planner forecasting number of leads based on new advertising budget):

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Like before, we’ve entered our known variables (advertising budget compared to direct leads). We then used the Forecast function to forecast how many direct leads we could expect with the new $8,000 budget given by the client.

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We all know nothing is for certain and that an excel function can’t really “predict” the future but the Forecast function gives you a great starting place to hone in on your business planning goals.