Showing your value in transformative times

Showing your value in transformative times

Charlotte Stoel

Charlotte Stoel

I’ll skip the usual introduction. I don’t need to tell you about the disruption COVID-19 has caused: all organisations today face challenges, a key one being money.

Chop, chop, chop – you can’t read a news site or have a conversation with someone at the moment without hearing about an organisation reducing staff numbers, cutting suppliers, or lowering budgets, among other cost cutting measures. Cuts are being made across all businesses and all departments, and unfortunately marketing isn’t exempt. But there are ways of protecting your budget, or at least getting a less aggressive cut.

I joined the PRCA’s first MarComms Group virtual conference recently and collected the wisdom from the group on how to show value to the board and management level. The advice came from Infosys Consulting CMO Chris Fiorillo, Shallcross Partners’ Chris Hall, The British Promotional Merchandise Association Interim CEO Carey Trevill, and International SOS Group Marketing Director Nick Jones.

Here are the top tips to all you marketers out there:

Show deep business understanding: If the board is focussed on profitability, show you can do more for less, show you’re resourceful, show how to be more effective. If the board wants growth, show that you’re focussed on lead generation, customer engagement etc. Showing that your marketing focus aligns completely to the needs of the organisation now means you’re less likely to have your resources cut.

Create connections: If you’re not already, get out of the marketing bubble, make stronger connections internally. Is there a way you can get closer to finance? And if not finance, the people that influence finance, for example the senior team in sales or other C-level executives. You want others to support your case to retain your budget – you need to make them realise ‘I cannot be successful without marketing’.

Visibility and promotion: A way to get closer to board members or others in leadership is to build their profile externally, showing the value directly. You’re probably already doing this, by positioning experts and leadership as the faces of the company, but also look at your board and ask yourself: who could be more visible? Like the above, you’re creating more allies internally. 

Don’t think you can hide: All costs are on the P&L and a discussion about your budget will happen, if it hasn’t yet. Be proactive and think of solutions that work for both you and the business. In this current environment, the Finance team will currently be focussed on cashflow so maybe there are ways to create an impact now and pay later. For example, working with a PR agency, the payment terms can be 30-60 days, meaning results today, payment the following month. Not many organisations have cut their way to survival, rather it’s more about keeping costs down within acceptable limits.

More for less: Do the majority right and fast and don’t let perfection slow you down. Timelines have shrunk – the time for change is today, this week –, so forget about plans looking eight weeks down the line. And repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. Be as resourceful as you can.

The signs are showing that this recession will be short but sharp, compared with others in living memory. It may feel gloomy right now, but this is the time for marketing, because once we’re on the up, growth will come fast. Being prepared will mean you can go after every opportunity and look back at this time as just a blip!

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