On this blog, we often talk about the mechanics and best practices associated with developing a marketing strategy or implementing a marketing campaign, but the reality is that unless you find funding and executive support for your initiative, it will not likely get the budget or attention that it needs to succeed. Getting funding (and understanding how your company evaluates alternatives) is more important now than ever. This is because so many new ways of marketing have emerged over the last few years including social media, content marketing, distance learning and more, so that companies that have been doing the same thing for years are realizing they will have to re-align their spend in order to get the critical mass necessary to succeed when using any of these new forms of marketing.
Before I explore HOW to get funding, I think it is important to be clear on WHO I am talking to. If you come from a company that is busy running print ads in magazines, then don’t bother to read on. This is not for people who have been implementing marketing programs that have been done for years. This is an important lesson for change agents who want to make a name for their company and themselves by understanding and implementing well thought out new programs that will deliver results.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s discuss the five key ways to ensure that your program will get proper funding:
1) Do Your Homework and Develop a Well Thought-Out Initiative: There is no excuse for not doing your homework ahead of proposing a project. You know your company’s culture. If you are expected to bring research to the table, make sure it was done and done well. Make sure that goals are properly set and that you are providing a realistic timeline and budget. These are all par for the course.
2) Tie Your Initiative to a Business Challenge (not just a sales or marketing challenge): It never ceases to amaze me how many people forget this step. If you are going to the CEO or CFO for funding and you are proposing to do marketing in a way that it has not been done before, then make sure you connect your initiative to one of the core business tenet being discussed or presented by your top management team. There is only so many dollars to go around and if you are trying to have money redirected your way, your project will absolutely need to align with the core business goals. If you are not sure of the core business goals of your organization (and plenty of people are not) then listen for words like Revenue Growth, Market Share Growth, Innovation, Customer Service and more. Business challenges represent how your company plans to compete in the future, and aligning with them is a good idea for the project and your career.
3) Size Your Program so That You Can Demonstrate Progress Quickly: As we weigh the options of what is possible with a marketing program, it is very tempting to think big and long term, however; as you consider what to present to your executives, it is important to set their expectations appropriately. Remember that the most successful baseball teams are the ones that routinely hit singles and doubles and not homerooms. The same is true for business. Break your program down into a series of well timed, well defined milestones and you are very likely to get the funding that you need to successfully accomplish these smaller steps. Also remember that successes are important because internal resources tend to align more easily with projects that are perceived as being a success and those are the ones that are most likely to have on-going executive and funding support.
4) Provide On-Going Progress Reports: Now that you’ve shown the project to be a success in its early phases, remember that it is important to keep the internal PR program going. Champions are easily distracted as are others in the management team. To ensure that all know that their time and money is being well spent, make sure that you hold regular update meetings. Getting people talking about the success of your program and showing that it has widespread support is a great way to make sure executives are aware of the value of the program and a great way to make sure funding keeps coming your way.
5) Think Globally: Too often programs are started with a focus on a local market and never expanded to work worldwide. Again, as discussed in point 3, I strongly urge you to size the launch of your program small, but make sure your plans evolve to include other locations or markets. If your company has a strong growth focus on China or a specific vertical market, then make sure there is a plan for adaptation into these areas. This is a great way to evolve the program over time and continue to grow your budget and influence within the company.
Today’s marketers are being challenged to consider new channels and media than ever before. This shift is certainly going to cause a re-examination of the marketing budget. Make sure that you get the funding your project needs by using these 5 simple steps. If you think I’ve missed a step or want to provide your own experience putting these into action, please comment below.