3 reasons why marketing should lead the planning and budgeting process

Let’s face it. Planning and budgeting is not marketing’s favorite activity. The process is like trying to herd cats. There's no defined process, so you attend mind-numbing meetings and review endless and meaningless spreadsheets and PowerPoints.  Through it all, you have no idea what this has to do with your job and once the process is done and the plan disappears never to be seen again, you don’t care. Welcome to planning season. 

Fortunately, there is a better way - Have marketing operations (MO) lead the process. When this happens, the benefits to the CMO, marketing and sales are impressive.

A new strategic planning, budgeting and management model (SPB&M)

It’s fascinating to see the marketing operations organization assume more and more responsibility. In today’s more sophisticated marketing departments, one of those areas is strategic planning and budgeting, but with a significant twist. The twist is rather than treating planning and budgeting as a singular annual event, it's treated as an ongoing process throughout the year. The SPB&M model provides an overview of this new process.

3 reasons why marketing should lead the planning and budgeting process image

The SPB&M model includes two main phases: planning and managing. This is an important distinction of the SPB&M process. It represents strategic planning, budgeting and management as a continuous process of improvement, not a one and done effort. Planning includes three steps:

1. Facilitate alignment 
2. Mediate pro forma consensus 
3. Broker shared KPIs and publish plan. 

The use of facilitate, mediate, and broker as verbs is both intentional and descriptive of the role of the MO executive in this process. It also implies a strong process orientation. The managing aspect encompasses two further steps:

4. Track and measure
5. Responsive adjustment and optimization. 

This is where the MO leader shines.  After all, the MO team owns all the performance data! While not a linear step in the model, a key element is Lead and Manage Change.  This is such a critical driver of success, we have chosen to call it out separately and have it appear in every step of the model. It's represented by the horizontal bar across the bottom of the model.

Benefits to the CMO, the marketing organization and the sales organization

Benefits for the CMO

“For me, having my MO executive lead a formal SPB&M process, I now enjoy increased credibility as a business executive, not just as a marketing leader. Because of the increased visibility, alignment and transparency the process drives, I have more confidence in working with the executive team.  It’s clear how I am accountable and how I am doing with that accountability.”

The words most used by CMOs in describing how they benefit from an MO-led planning and budgeting process include credibility, confidence, visibility and alignment. The SPB&M process contributes to securing the CMO as an important member of the strategic conversation around annual planning. It helps the CMO to build a 'win together, lose together' culture because it aligns marketing goals to company and sales goals. The process also drives visibility, transparency and accountability to complementary KPIs.  

Benefits for the marketing team

“Since we’ve adopted a more formal SPB&M process, I finally understand the role we (the marketing team) play in the annual planning and budgeting process. More importantly, I now understand how what we do directly affects sales and company performance. I totally get what accountability means for me and my team.”

For the marketing team as a whole, the SPB&M process drives line of sight to accountability and confidence.  By defining the role of marketing in the planning process, marketing becomes a collaborator with sales and finance to meet organizational goals. Alignment between marketing, sales and finance is greatly improved and as a result, marketing feels more integrated into the company.  This builds confidence and a sense of working as a team.

Benefits for the sales team

“We see a difference in how marketing is working with us. Since they were a part of the annual planning process, they understand what we need to achieve and are coming to the table as a partner. Never thought I would see that!”

When marketing operations leads the SPB&M process, benefits to sales include gaining an unexpected partner in revenue and quicker course corrections during the year. As marketing operations drives the SPB&M process, they track and measure all marketing-related KPIs that affect sales performance. They hold marketing accountable for those KPIs and are able to help facilitate quick course corrections. This proactive responsiveness and ability to make data-based decisions ensures marketing is tightly aligned with sales around goal achievement. 

Career opportunity for the marketing operations leader

Successfully running a SPB&M practice enhances the career opportunities of the MO leader. As more companies realize marketing can and should be a growth driver in the organization, executives are looking for those marketing operations executives who have a proven track record for operationalizing a growth engine. 

Taking more of an investment portfolio perspective to the operations of marketing, the marketing ops leader who can demonstrate a growth agenda including broad expertise in planning, budgeting and optimizing operations, will have a long and full career.