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New Year, New Budget: How to Defend and Grow Your Budget in 2020

Posted by Kim Moseman on January 22, 2020

With a new year comes new opportunities, new hires and new budgets for agencies and marketing and communications departments alike. Ensuring your organization is focused and aligned with the company’s strategic objectives is a great place to start your planning.

Here are some easy best practices to help you not only defend your budget, but hopefully grow it if you need to stretch it.

Whether you are an in-house agency for a large Fortune 500 company or a creative agency, now is the time to capture and monetize your impact and use it to your department’s advantage.

Positioning the Ask

The start of a new year often brings new projects, products, services, plans, and negotiating. Expanding your budget might be a necessity.

But it’s not what you’re asking for, it’s how you ask for it.

“Understanding your in-house agency’s impact on the organization’s objectives, revenue and savings goals is key to positioning your department to defend and grow your budget,” said SVP Eliana Hassen, a veteran management consultant in the marketing communications space. “Creative and digital teams struggle to articulate their impact, because they are often slammed and not taking the time to go back and debrief with clients on how to measure the impact of their work. Monetizing the impact will go a long way.”

The best strategy is to consider how to position the “ask”. When asking to increase your budget, it’s crucial that you provide context for the impact of the increase. It is ideal if you can prove that the budget increase will:

  • Increase or positively impact revenue for the company directly or through brand recognition, social media metrics, etc.
  • Increase productivity for your team, ultimately increasing output
  • Decrease overall costs across the board, creating efficiencies

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Trimming the Fat First

Beyond proving the benefits of an expanded budget, cutting unnecessary costs proactively is a way of sometimes negotiating funds you need.

“As a leader in your company, you should be a steward of the company’s money, and your partners in finance will see and appreciate that,” Hassen said. “Your asks will have more weight because they are balanced by your constant trimming.”

Here are a few ways to slim down your budget before making the initial ask:

  • Eliminate the non-essential expenses: Take a step back and pinpoint where you can ditch unnecessary travel. Can you hire resources locally to support your efforts?
  • Capture cost avoidance: Defend what your team does and how you do it expeditiously and with budget in mind. One exercise is to take a project and cost out an estimate of what it would have cost for an agency to do the same work.
  • Outsourcing: Use your team’s time wisely and outsource the lower impact, smaller or cheaper projects so you can focus on the bigger, higher impact projects.

Meeting with finance quarterly and sharing your wins, efforts in cost cutting and impact on the bottom line is a great way of ensuring your team and it’s asks are top of mind.

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Hiring for the Future:

The beginning of a new year often means new headcount for your team. Those precious hires are impacted by a number of factors from the unemployment market, competition for high need roles and budget. PwC’s 2017 CEO survey reports that chief executives view the unavailability of talent and skills as the biggest threat to their business.

But many leaders are focused on hiring for the needs of today and not thinking to the future. The Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that 95% of hiring is done to fill existing positions. But you want to ensure that you are hiring smart and to meet the needs of your pipeline 3-6 months out.

Now is the time to push the talent envelop. Hire people open to cross training so your team has better widespread coverage.

Evaluate the skills on the table and explore the opportunities for hybrid roles. Look at what your team is hoping to create in the future. Consider your output strategy for the next 2-3 years, not just the current projects in queue.

“It’s easy to hire someone for your needs today, but part of your role is to anticipate and hire folks who can stretch into your needs of tomorrow,” Hassen said.

If you are an in-house team, consider bringing in someone with creative agency experience who has the talent you are looking for, but is perhaps ready to move in-house for the many benefits that large companies and in-house agencies offer.

Looking for more ways to disrupt in-house agencies and plan for 2020?

Email our in-house strategist and expert, Eliana Hassen eliana@crewscontrol.com

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