Why Employee Communicators Don’t Get Marketing Dollars.

Simple. They don’t play the marketing game, but they should.

Your Corporate Budget

Every fiscal 4th quarter starts the same, finance asking for budget cuts. For corporate communicators this is especially frightening because you probably don’t have much of a budget to begin with. Companies will squeeze everywhere they can, including the marketing department but marketing knows something you don’t – how to play the game. It’s actually quite simple; your actions need to be directly tied back to sales. If you cannot do that, you will never grow your budget dollars. I have met so many people who think that if they prove their projects cut costs the required financing will get approved. That is flawed thinking and this is why, cost cutting isn’t scalable. Sure you can save money by automating a process and eliminating a full time employee (FTE), but how do you scale that? Remove more FTE’s? Cannibalizing the employee base is not a way to grow your business or your career path.

The Epiphany

I was sitting in on a high level corporate marketing meeting at a large telecom when I proposed a sales contest to boost revenue. After explaining the details, a member of the team said, and I’ll never forget it, “This will cost us close to a quarter million dollars.” My instant reply was, “But how much will we make?” The marketing VP pointed at me and said, “That’s exactly the right question.” Bam – approved. Hit me like a lightning rod and I never looked back. It was so simple, act like marketing and you get marketing money. You see, if you can generate revenue your internal value sky rockets as your company is all about growth. All companies are. I am not advocating making things up to justify budget increases but I am saying that employee communication departments must start expanding out of their comfort zones. After all, when you are communicating and effectively arming the field with knowledge you help increase sales through retention, accessory sales, net ads and the like. If done ineffectively, the opposite will happen and communicators should be judged accordingly. Communication strategy plays a big part, if you don’t have a plan of how to increase sales via your role then you are simply a cost center. Expect the budget hatchet at some point.

But You’re Employee Communications – It’s Your Budget

Because you are now getting a larger budget (and more visibility) does not mean you start paying the entire bill. Employee communications/events etc. impact various departments uniquely. Sometimes, you have to put on a sales event, or have communications that really only impact customer service. This is where you need a large degree of political diplomacy as you will be asking the other departments to pony up their fair share of the bill. After all, by now you have a strategy that will show how effective a new communication campaign will be. As Mr. Wonderful from Shark Tank says, “You don’t get rich by spending your money, you spend other people’s money.” Same goes for budgets It may seem uncomfortable at first but it’s a part of corporate reality. Show your worth and dare to put your ideas on the line, tie your results to sales and reap the rewards.