The B-Word: Budget

There is one thing I have learned during my time as a marketer – we love spending money. Come Q4 we get out our excel sheets, analyze yearly ROI, and put together our best proposal to have an increased budget for next year. Oftentimes, our hopes fall short and we must find creative ways to do more with less; an experience that is quite common across all industries, verticals, and companies. With an increased expectation for success and a limited budget, we must put together a solid business case as to why our marketing department deserves the budget to match the high demands of the company.

While at the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference I attended a session by Laura McLellan, VP of Marketing Strategy at Gartner, who spoke about ways to fund and justify incremental marketing budgets. The main gist of this presentation is that marketers need to take a closer look at their budget to see what functions they are supporting, how it aligns with yearly goals and what needs to be changed for success. Here are some top takeaways from this session:

Marketing Budgets Must Align with Corporate Goals: From one year to the next it is not uncommon for company goals to change significantly. With buyouts, mergers, acquisitions, new executive management and better internal alignment, the expectations of the marketing department can evolve rapidly. With changing goals, you need a budget to match. If you request a 25% increase in budget from last year, make it known exactly why it is needed to achieve the goals asked of you. Defend your budget.

Share Budgets with Other Departments: As you look at your budget in detail, note how many items marketing shares with other departments. A great example here is the company website as it is instrumental in helping other departments meet their goals, such as sales, customer service, IT, business/brand units, etc. Instead of taking all of the costs for design, implementation, execution, hosting, and necessary integrations/updates, make a case as to why this needs to be shared with other departments. This applies to all types of services, software, and platforms that may be currently paid for by marketing, but should be more fairly split across the board.

Prove Your Worth: According to the session, three items are needed for marketing to be effective. First, the success measurements must align with the c-suite. Make sure you understand exactly what is being asked of marketing and that you are reporting in a way that is easily understood by your executive team. Second, the marketing itself needs to be effective. The numbers and statistics do not lie. If a campaign is not providing you with value, drop it. Finally, scrutinize over the final level of detail. For example, do you have the ability to barter or partner with a company? Is it better to buy the service you need, or build it?

Just as marketers are guardians of the brand, we are defenders of the budget. I was always taught that you can have anything you want in life, you just have to clarify what you need, make a plan, and ask. While it may be difficult to begin the process of understanding the state of your budget, it is the first step down the path of securing the funds you need to achieve your goals.

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