With the passing of Labor Day comes the most dreaded of all seasons, Budgeting. September is actually branded in my brain as coming with cooler temperatures, falling leaves…and Excel templates. So many Excels.
Although there’s plenty to loathe about putting a plan together for next year, there’s something satisfying in taking a hard look at the current year’s tactics, spending, and results and deciding where to put emphasis in the coming year. Which themes performed well? What content drove responses? Which vendors and platforms were clear winners? There’s something exciting about looking at a blank slate and deciding where to grow next.
And then, of course, there’s the downside of budgeting–namely, the budgeting component. Like many marketers, I have spent a lot of time budgeting through guessing. Partly this is because I wanted to sandbag a few budget pockets in case of later cuts and partly this is because I just never knew with 100% certainty what I’d want to spend money on in April of next year when I was staring at my computer in September.
In my experience, it always seems like Marketing is being asked to do more with less (stop me if I’m shocking you). Even if there are ready pots of money, there is increased scrutiny on how it’s spent and how it performs. This scrutiny seems to be felt most poignantly with respect to vendor spending, and for good reason–CMOs and CFOs are watching dollars go out the door want to know what their money got them. Fair enough, but how do you make the case for effective outsourced spend?
- Show the gaps. No matter the size of your company, there is something you’re lacking. If you’re a small company, this might be an automation platform. If you’re a larger company, this might be speed to market. Whatever it is, make sure it’s addressed (ideally without sounding whiny).
- Run the numbers. Any vendor worth its salt can show you how your dollars make sense. More than bottom-line performance, make sure you understand all the services that went into your spend so that you can answer questions about the creative or execution components that don’t always make it onto an invoice.
- Know the expectations. What number is your CMO carrying in regard to revenue influence? How can you affect that number? What goals are being handed down to your Sales counterparts? How is your vendor able to help you expand in your existing market and tackle the next?
There’s obviously a lot more that goes into budgeting (so much more in fact, that we’ll be talking about this topic quite a bit in the coming months!), but the biggest challenge will always be around proving that marketing money is spent wisely. Make sure your dollars add up to sense.