3 ways to protect your marketing budget from cuts

For many executives, it's the most stressful time of the year: budget season.

It’s budget season. For many, it’s the high-stress time of year when teams gather for closed-door meetings with CEOs who will inevitably ask them to show more results with fewer dollars.

Suddenly, money that was earmarked for marketing is shifted to another department, leaving managers scrambling to adequately fund new areas like content production and social media, which are increasingly falling under the marketing purview.

If you’ve managed to avoid this conundrum, consider yourself lucky. Still, if life has taught us anything, it’s that it is better to be prepared than surprised. And there are certainly steps you can take to not only prepare but to prevent budget cuts in the first place. Here are three:

Some people understand budgeting to be a purely financial function chock full of numbers, percentages, and complicated calculations. Don’t be one of those people. Budgeting is more about communicating than it is about adding or subtracting. While marketing metrics are important, meeting your own goals won’t help you win the budget battle. Set meetings with other departments and add these five questions to the agenda. What are the business objectives for your team? What are the communications goals or expectations from budget holders? What similarities exist between the two? What activities are in place that bridge these two goals? What metrics are in place? And how are these reported to the budget holders?

Break down silos
There’s one thing that can prevent even the best marketing plan from succeeding: silos. These barriers, where departments act as singular entities instead of cohesive units, can render your marketing efforts unquantifiable and therefore useless. You must integrate with the sales process every step of the way to show the value of your joint efforts. Since it’s often easiest to begin change with yourself, begin by tearing down the silos within your own marketing department. Ensure your public relations, social, and content teams are aligning on metrics and measuring results in the same language.

Think customer first
Without customers, your business would cease to exist. The best businesses are those that are the most customer-centric. Sure, you want to drive sales and build brand awareness, but why is that important to customers? Start by asking yourself why customers need your product or service. Then align your efforts around the answer. When you’re developing your budget, keep customers top of mind and showcase how your marketing efforts are driving customer satisfaction and engagement.

Lisa Vallee-Smith is CEO and president of Airfoil.

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