-Peter Doyle (2008)
Recently the new CEO of a well-established but small company showed me his marketing budget and asked if he would get it approved. His background is finance and ICT, and his sales and marketing manager, also new, was a successful elsewhere salesperson with no formal training but some tactical experience in marketing. What they presented was a list of proposed activities and a request for approval of “a sum certain in money,” to finance these activities. There wasn’t even a hint of marketing strategy or a return on investment. It was never going to be approved as presented, I thought, but they did have some good tactical ideas.
Marketing and Value Creation
As Hooley et al (2012) put it, “Marketing is a process of value creation and delivery to customers that transcends traditional departmental boundaries .” Shrewd marketers know that their first constituency is the internal customer, so here are the three things that they do to get their budgets approved on time, every time:
1. Start with the CEO. What is his/her dream?
- What business do we want to be in 3-5 years from now?
- What should the brand footprint be in 3-5 years time?
- What would make our shareholders happy?
2. Your next discussion is with the CFO. What would make him/her look good?
- What would you like our Balance Sheet look like 3-5 years from now?
- What would you like our projected Income Statement to be 3-5 years from now
- What ratios would put us way above industry average?
3. Armed with the above, the next step is to create a marketing plan that is a roadmap for giving the CEO and CFO what they want, and your target customers more than they had expected.
The Marketer’s Secret
- What’s in it for the marketer, you may ask. I’ll share the marketer’s secret with you; but be sure to keep it strictly confidential: We work for more than achieving the quantitative and qualitative objectives. The journey is our real reward! And so our fun comes from the marketing thinking, followed by the planning process, constructing the strategic and tactical plans, presenting them as an investment that the CEO and CFO will find attractive, and then executing the plans to the benefit of all.
- Slick? Not really, for it is much easier said than done. Indeed, as McDonald (2007) speaking of marketing planning reminds, “The problem is that, while as a process it is intellectually simple to understand, in practice it is the most difficult of all marketing tasks.”
- So back to the case of my young friends. Obviously what’s needed here is not about bunting, banners, advertisements, social media and the related expenses. These are all important elements in the communications mix; but they are not the strategy to take the business where it needs to go, and so his Board is unlikely give the stamp of approval.
Good luck, my young friends. You were smart enough to seek advice early in the process. Now, how would you advise them: should they attempt to create their marketing plan on their own, with no additional expenditure; or should they seek professional assistance which comes at a cost?
Herman D. Alvaranga is president of the Caribbean School of Sales Management. Shrewd managers call him (876-527-3001) instead of looking outside the region for world-class sales and marketing consulting and sales force transformation.