How to get finance and others on your side for your marketing budget
Putting together an annual budget and having it approved by your finance division lead (or another budget holder) can often be a challenge. Especially in times of economic downturn.
Here is what has helped me secure budget for marketing and digital functions I have led.
At organisations where I’ve worked (small, medium and large), there has often been a cycle:
- Budget proposal aligned within the Marketing and Communications team – where team leads consolidate budgets for their area (with input from relevant members in their teams) into a joint-up marketing and communications budget. It is higher than what the team expects to get approved as the budget often gets negotiated down.
- The Marketing and Comms functional lead presents the budget to finance / executive leadership team (ELT).
- A few rounds of negotiations for reducing the budget.
Rationale for spend
What has helped me secure budget in this process is to outline how each proposed spend helps achieve critical organisational goals and deliver vital activity and workstreams that have already been greenlit by finance – effectively and efficiently. For example:
- Digital audit to assess the performance of our digital channels against organisational objectives, competitors and privacy regulation. Provide and implement recommendations for high impact, compliance and efficiency.
- Marketing activity to deliver critical stakeholder objectives. High-impact and low-cost business outcomes (awareness raising, lead generation, conversion), such as search engine optimisation, targeted digital adverts, etc.
- Current digital tools that improve effectiveness, efficiency and enable timely brand reputation management (Marketing Cloud, Hotjar, Sprout Social). Email platform management, sending marketing and transactional emails, driving website traffic and engagement (leads and sales). Collecting user feedback to improve user experience and increase service uptake. Identify, evaluate, escalate and respond quickly to contentious issues and customer enquiries.
- Marketing for [key stakeholder] high-impact areas – a new role and/ or freelancer/ agency support.
- Document business-critical information about digital assets for business continuity.
- Repeat quarterly and annual market research.
When asked to do more than your budget allows you
When I have lacked budget but been asked to do more throughout the year, I have:
- Ensured there are clear objectives, audiences, success measures, tracking and attribution in place to assess impact and inform future resource allocation. For example by introducing a brief for support requests and supporting teams with its use.
- Asked colleagues, whose requests my team can’t support, to back my business case for additional budget (be it to increase headcount, ad budget or somehting else) and/or factor in budget in their pots for the respective costs, with guidance from me/ my team.
- Decentralised activity (e.g. more people creating content, publishing content, setting up ads, using digital systems) with relevant training and support.
- Used free or low-cost tools to improve effectiveness and efficiency such as Hotjar, CRM with marketing capabilities (such as HubSpot) and Google Data Studio
Relationship with budget holders
A key factor has also been to maintain a good relationship with budget holders such as finance leads. For example, agree, document and follow processes for budget tracking and marketing and digital costs processing that works for finance. If I can think of a way to optimise this process, I have been further discussing options with finance.
I have been including these processes in induction packs for my team and reminding my team to follow them. I have even had a finance lead say they wished all teams were like mine.
These approaches have helped me keep finance on my side and secure key budget. I hope they help you too.
Help with your budget or getting more with less
If you would like to chat about ways you can get your finance team on board with your budget or help you improve the effectiveness and efficiencies of your marketing or digital communications, get in touch.