Do you know every dollar on a first-name basis? If you are managing a marketing budget across multiple channels, and negotiating with business managers, C-suite executives and channel partners, the answer is most likely no.

In fact, much of the data you need to properly understand the drivers of cost or sales success are probably distributed across different systems — or worse, sitting in an Excel spreadsheet on someone’s desktop on the other side of the country.

In an age when marketers are more accountable than ever, CMOs need to take control of their information flows and, ideally, build a real-time view of how campaigns are working.

A new ebook from Aprimo — called “How Well Do you Know Your Marketing Budget?” — explores this very question, and offers suggestions to combat the challenge.

The bottom line is simple, but critical. You need to:

  • Centralise your view — By eliminating multiple sources of information it is much easier for CMOs and marketing leaders of all levels to arrive at a single version of budget truth. In turn, that will help provide visibility into the details of current and future projects and inform decisions about resource allocation.
  • Dig deeply into the details — Visibility is not enough. Marketers need immediate access to information in order to respond to rapid changes in the market. Often, the problems are even more fundamental, like understanding how much money has been committed and spent, and how much has been accrued. Furthermore, having timely campaign forecasts help marketing teams to stay on track. Easy access to information helps marketers to understand which campaigns are producing the best results and then allows them to reallocate resources where needed.
  • Make sure you are compliant — These days it is important for marketers to be able to respond with speed and accuracy to any internal or external audit. And as privacy rules firm up, and data is increasingly transferred to the balance sheet as a tangible asset, this is an issue that will become more pressing.

Data data everywhere, and not a drop to drink

The financial information that marketers need to make decisions is typically stored in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems such as SAP. But there is a problem: often the information is hard to access in a timely manner, or not presented in a way that aligns to the needs of the marketer. For instance, as the authors of the ebook note, “Traditional ERP systems roll dollars, pounds and euros up to the general ledger in ways that are meaningless to marketers”.

That makes it hard for marketing leaders to understand fully what is happening in different departments, geographies or product lines.

The result is that key insights are often missed, or arrive too late to make a difference. As a consequence, marketing funds are poorly allocated. It is a textbook example of an inefficient process hurting marketing effectiveness.

Then there is the time spent asking for reports to be run, which is often a frustrating bottleneck. Finance, IT and analytics departments are juggling priorities from across the business, or focused on meeting their own regular monthly, quarterly or annual report cycles.

Sometimes, homegrown solutions involve spending scarce funds building a granular view of an ERP system. There is an obvious problem in such an approach: is creating one-off or infrequent reports really the best use of everyone’s time and money?

The alternative is empowering the marketing organisation to understand the data better, so it can respond quickly. Rather than retrofitting a business-oriented system, or waiting in an endless queue for other departments to produce reports, a smarter approach for marketers is to implement a marketing-focused financial solution that ensures they have the necessary tools they need to stay agile, informed, and compliant.

About the Authors

Sean Campbell is a solutions consultant for Aprimo. He has worked with leading brands in the US, Europe, and APAC helping them to transform their marketing operations. Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which Aprimo is a Corporate Member. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.

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