3 Marketing Budget Questions to Know, with Help from “Hamilton”

April 7, 2016 Allocadia

hamiltonThanks to “Hamilton” – a hip-hop Broadway musical that’s been everywhere from the GRAMMY Awards to the White House – sound financial planning is back in the spotlight.

First, here’s a little history refresher for those trying to score tickets to the sold-out sensation. Alexander Hamilton served as the first U.S. secretary of treasury, and created the foundation for the entire financial system. Fast-forward a couple hundred years. After reading Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography on Alexander Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired to create a modern take on the “ten-dollar founding father” by brilliantly blending 18th-century history with 21st-century slang and style.

It might be hard for marketers to achieve Hamilton’s notoriety. But with marketing budgets constantly under scrutiny by key stakeholders, the ability to answer these three key budget questions might just get you a starring role.

1) How Much Are We Investing?

Following the American Revolution, both the federal government and the states had acquired a huge debt as a result of overspending. During the musical, Jefferson and Hamilton engage in their first lyrical battle over Hamilton’s plan to assume the state debts. While Hamilton and Jefferson manage to compromise and Hamilton’s program ends up being a remarkable success, the fear over spending more than planned still runs deep for many. When key stakeholders ask this quantitative question, they want to know the difference between actual spend and the planned investment amounts  – and have reassurance marketers aren’t overspending.

Depending on who is asking within the organization, other quantitative questions might include:

  • A CMO asking, “Is the entire marketing organization spending according to plan?”
  • A regional marketing team leader asking, “Is my team over (or hopefully under) budget for this quarter?”
  • A field marketer wondering, “Have I spent the right amount within my areas of responsibility?”

2) What Are We Investing In?

In “Hamilton”, Hamilton and Jefferson debate whether to establish a national bank in a rap battle, with Hamilton arguing: “A new line of credit, a financial diuretic, how do you not get it? If we’re aggressive and competitive the union gets a boost. You’d rather give it a sedative?”

Just as Hamilton and Jefferson debated about how to best solve the national debt, key stakeholders often ask qualitative questions to determine if investments are aligned to top-level business priorities.

For example, if creating awareness is an important business objective, qualitative questions to understand how much is spent on all branding-related marketing activities could include:

  • A CMO asking, “Are our marketing investments aligned to the company’s overall strategic goals?”
  • A regional marketing team leader asking, “Are we on track with our branding spend this quarter?”
  • A field marketer asking, “Which of these campaigns supports our company’s top-level awareness priority?”

3) What Are We Getting Out of Our Investments?

One of the characters in the musical reflects on Hamilton’s financial accomplishments: “He took our country from bankruptcy to prosperity. I hate to admit it, but he doesn’t get enough credit for all the credit he gave us.”

Marketers are asked this question all the time to understand revenue impact – which marketing investments are credited with driving revenue? Typical revenue impact questions include:

  • A CMO asking “Is our marketing spend helping us reach our revenue targets?”
  • A regional marketing team leader wondering, “Will my region hit its revenue targets this fiscal year?”
  • A field marketer asking, “How much revenue has been generated from my campaigns?”

As any marketer knows, these aren’t the only budget reporting questions you’ll hear. Prep to answer even the toughest budget questions by reading the Marketing Budget Reporting & Visibility quick guide.

Looking for a detailed playbook on the rest of the instructions your marketing budget should have come with, but didn’t? Download the full Your Marketing Budget: An Owners’ Manual.

The post 3 Marketing Budget Questions to Know, with Help from “Hamilton” appeared first on Allocadia.

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