By Bekki Bushnell, Associate Director
We’re all having to do it – justify that spend in marketing & PR. Especially in tougher times. Unsurprisingly, we’re in the same boat; it’s not just a challenge for our prospects and clients. We also have to prove to our Board or senior management team that our efforts are worth the investment, and as budgets are tightened, this becomes more of a focus.
Speaking from experience, it helps to start off on the right foot by making sure your marketing objectives are aligned to organisational goals with a clear strategy in place to realise them. Sounds simple enough. But often, when the company adjusts its goals in response to market conditions or internal changes, those same adjustments aren’t carried through to the marketing plan.
The next step is building trust with your board or senior management team using the results you’ve achieved for the business and ROI to garner goodwill, which ultimately equates to more budget or fewer cuts.
When budget cuts are decided, PR & marketing are nearly always first on the chopping block. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – don’t do it. According to a recent PRWeek article, brands that don’t cut spending on PR & marketing during a recession experience far greater sales than their competitors when coming out of it – 256% in fact. This alone won’t necessarily sway your board or SMT, so you’ve got to keep them in the loop.
Now I’m not suggesting they need to know the minutia of what you’re doing and every tactic that your strategy entails – rather keep it to high-level updates looking at performance against KPIs to meet the business objectives supported with data-driven insights that can help the organisation improve or take action on.
In the same vein, when developing your strategy in the first place, involve the stakeholders, be it board, management team etc., as early as possible. It’s a lot easier to get buy-in if people feel like they’ve been involved from the beginning. Again, it’s not about getting them involved in the finer details, rather including them in critical meetings and getting in face time with your partners. All of which helps build that confidence and support internally.
Set objectives: Start at the beginning by ensuring your marketing strategy is aligned to the wider business goals
Manage expectations: Be clear on your short- and long-term objectives. Identify where the quick wins will come from and what will take a more sustained effort.
Set measurable KPIs: With KPIs that are aligned with the broader business objectives you should report back regularly on progress (at least quarterly) on the plan. If you’re working with suppliers, apply the same logic. Ensure you’re clear on what the investment is and expected results.
Proactively communicate: Update the board or senior team on your progress, being clear about results against your KPIs. This will help build the profile of the marketing department.
Replicate success: Understanding what works (and what doesn’t) is key to replicating that success across other marketing campaigns and likewise discontinuing or tweaking what isn’t working. Don’t keep doing the same things if the results aren’t as expected; show you’re listening to the data and taking action.
Don’t roll over: Don’t let your board or senior team cut your budgets without defending them! People want to do business with brands that they know will deliver in the way they need. If you stop spending on PR & marketing you’ll lack the ammo to help the wider business deliver on that – so be sure to point out the implications and impact of cut budgets.