Marketing communication professionals sometimes encounter frustration when they are challenged to persuade company leaders to free up budget dollars for marketing spending or agreeing upon a new marketing concept. There could be one fundamental reason C-suite leaders and communications professionals cannot come to an agreement: MARCOM professionals fail to frame their proposals from a business perspective.
According to the Chippewa Valley Business Report, a different approach can be taken to achieve agreement. First, speak their language. Communication professionals too often try to teach their leaders the language of marketing instead of speaking it.
Leaders often think about the bottom line. Whether you work for an organization that is trying to make money for profit, or a not-for-profit that is trying to maximize the use of its money, it is important to talk the language of finance. Bring this language into your presentation. When you consider the budget, you will also come up with better ideas in the first place and bridge the gap between a “yes” and a “no.”
Put yourself in the C-suite shoes.
A Harvard Business Review blog post pointed to the three things that most concern CEOs:
- Talent pipeline and management: The ability to attract and retain talent to drive their organizations forward. CEOs also consider how to motivate people through tough times and manage diversity and cultural differences.
- Operating in a global marketplace: Even if your organization is not global, it is still part of a global marketplace. CEOs are challenged to establish and maintain a consistent company culture across different regions.
- Regulation and legislation: With shifting regulation and legislation, CEOs face the challenge of leading a company to adjust to change.
Marketing plan approval tips:
If you struggle to get your marketing budget or plan approved, try treating the planning process as a sale. Your potential customer is your boss or CFO. His or her problem is lofty revenue goals and a limited amount of money to spend on line items including marketing, personnel, technology and more.
If you review the background of the CEO of every company in the Fortune 500, you will find most of them were trained in the areas of sales, finance, operations or engineering. They either know how to sell their product, build it, manage money or manage operations.
According to Marketing MO, MARCOM professionals should help the CFO connect the dots between your marketing programs and company goals. Here are just a few ideas:
- What measurable goals have you built your marketing plans to achieve? For example, identify how many retained customers, average order size, number of new referrals, etc.
- What else do your plans support? If you can show why your plan is critical for both short- and long-term goals, it will be easier for your C-Suites to justify these expenses.
- Do you know the most cost-effective ways to reach your goals? Take ownership of the budget as if the money is your own.
- What is the return on investment? Even if you only give a rough attempt to show the C-suite that your marketing plans are an investment, it will help in your plan’s approval process.
Other ideas include showing how your plan can reduce expenses. Are your marketing efforts saving costs that would have been expended in other ways? Can you improve service? Show how you can increase customer or employee satisfaction that can translate into meaningful benefits for your organization such as reduced turnover and increased productivity.
Is there a way you can achieve some or all of your results by partnering with other departments within your company or others? For example, could you partner with Human Resources to reduce recruitment costs by using online tools to connect with candidates? Then rely upon the Call Center department to cut back on staffing hours?
You have to demonstrate your impact with real numbers that are tied to real business imperatives. Do that, and you’ll get that seat at the table. By using metrics as a means to bridge the C-suite and MARCOM gap, can be a meaningful way to achieve success for the whole company.
Spring Arbor University offers an online Master of Arts in Communication program that will ensure that you stay relevant in this rapidly changing world. Read about the program here.