For many of us it’s budget season, again. The time of the year when we scratch our heads and wonder how we are going to convince everyone to sign off on a marketing budget that will actually allow us to deliver on the goals and objectives that have been laid down for 2017. And, if that weren’t enough, we continue to face a marketplace that changes daily — whether because of new technology, shifts in generational buying power, or changing customer behaviors.
So where do we start?
In my opinion, we need to start by embracing the changes we cannot control and thinking strategically about where we need to invest to advance our marketing capabilities.
Building Your Marketing Budget Based on a Strategic and Integrated Approach.
Just as you would start any marketing effort by analyzing where you need to invest the dollars available for best effect, our start point for the budgeting process should be with an in-depth analysis of our current marketing strategy, its performance, and where marketing opportunities lie for the coming year.
This coupled with a clear statement of priorities and a strategy directly linked to the priorities will allow us to focus on improving the areas that need the most attention. If we start here we have a good chance of making sure our marketing efforts will be more effective.
Secondly, our priorities and strategy need to deliver ROI. According to a HubSpot report, proving ROI and getting more budget are the leading challenges marketers face. And, the report further states, “Those who could prove ROI were more than twice as likely to receive higher budget than those who could not.”
Third, given that customer loyalty is most likely the focus of our attention our budgets should be focused on the areas, beyond specific marketing campaigns, that can positively affect our ability to deliver on our goals and demonstrate ROI: People, process, technology, and analytics.
Focusing on the Fundamentals May Not Be Sexy, But is Crucial for Success.
Every article, research report, or interview with a CMO I have read recently, validates what we have all been struggling with — how to afford better analytics, people with the right skills, and integrate our technology and our processes across departments. So, when it comes to building our marketing budgets why do so many of us start with the campaigns? Because they are the creative and sexy part of what we do. However, without the fundamentals, we are setting the campaigns and, importantly, ourselves up for failure.
If we add to this the constantly evolving dynamics of the competition, customer behavior and cultural influences, we see that a focus on fundamentals is the new sexy and something we need to embrace to be successful.
Building Flexibility into Budgets Has Never Been More Important.
As if we don’t have enough to juggle in the budget process, a transitional marketplace demands we are prepared to be adaptable, flexible and fleet of foot. By developing budgets that accommodate change, we can adapt to opportunities as they arise. One way to build flexibility into our budgets is through “scenario planning” and technology helps us a lot here.
I’ll leave you with the best practice I rely on. Being clear about how the returns on our investments will be achieved. Whether it be, investing in customer analytics or cross channel engagement platforms, or hiring for a new CRM position, at the end of the day, the rubber hits the road in marketing execution and proving its effectiveness.
About the Author: Connie is passionate about customer relationship strategy and truly understands consumer behavior. An executive level advisor for some of the world’s most prestigious brands, Connie has a track record of delivering game changing customer strategy alongside significant bottom line results. Through the years, companies such as GE Capital, Intuit Software and Costco Wholesale have sought Connie’s expertise. Connie is President and Founder of VeraCentra, a Customer Relationship Agency.
VeraCentra’s Closed Loop Solution is an integrated approach that brings together relationship strategy and data scientist teams to overcome technology and data challenges to help yield actionable customer insights. And our Journey design services coupled with our digital platform integration team work in parallel to advance action, creating and automating customer messages. Our Closed Loop Solution is fully integrated, allowing you to realize a quick return on your customer relationship marketing investment.