Like most marketing organizations, every December our team was tasked with putting together detailed marketing plans for the coming year including campaigns by product, cost per leads and opportunities and budget by quarter and activity. After multiple reviews and revisions, the senior executive team approved the plan in early January and we began working with our agency on timelines and project plans. However, by mid-1st quarter, we still had not received final approval on budget, which meant that we could not actually sign a contract with our agency to buy lists, begin creative or even confirm incentives.
But despite not having budget approval or the authorization to launch any campaigns, the senior team scheduled weekly meetings to review progress on the sales pipeline and number of the leads generated by marketing. This weekly meeting quickly turned into a bloodbath since as a marketing organization we could not launch any new campaigns and the leads from the campaigns from the previous year were miniscule compared to the numbers we needed to generate to stay consistent with our forecast. Nevertheless, every week the marketing team was called on the carpet to explain why we were missing forecasts. Then once we had been sufficiently bloodied, we were sent back to revise our forecasts to show how we were going to make up the missed number of leads and opportunities in the next quarter. The revisions would have been doable if we had approval to spend any money. By the end of 1st quarter, we were less than a third of the way toward the number of leads and opportunities forecast which meant that the 2nd quarter forecast had to be doubled to make up for missed numbers. You would expect that the senior management team, which knew we didn’t have budget, would understand that without actually paying our vendors we could not produce campaigns or schedule events. But you would be wrong.
Near the end of 2nd quarter, we received final budget numbers and were given the authorization to sign contracts. Unfortunately the budget was a third less than the original plans we had submitted which meant that all of the campaigns would need to be re-evaluated to determine new cost per lead/cost by opportunity. All of which would have been fine if the management team would have allowed us to reduce the number of leads and opportunities forecast for the year. But of course, we were not and the expectation from management was that marketing was still accountable for our original numbers. So at the end of 2nd quarter, we launched the first marketing campaign of the year, which had to produce immediate results and generate more than double the number of leads and opportunities than any previous campaigns in the history of the company. Does this sound like a recipe for disaster?
Tracy Bramlet is an award-winning marketing and communications professional with more than twenty years experience working in B2B and B2C environments. Well-versed in all marketing disciplines including brand management, demand generation and SEO as well as social and affiliate marketing;
Tracy has worked for a number of leading global firms across multiple verticals. She has been identifying strategic opportunities; managing multi-channel integrated campaigns, implemented brand initiatives and helping companies exceed their marketing goals throughout her wide-ranging career.