Should the bean counters be running marketing budgets?

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Here’s a radical idea born out of my experience dealing with large organisations and their marketing teams: the accountants have a far greater appreciation for the value that marketing adds to their business than their marketing counterparts do.

Crazy, right? Let me tell you why I don’t think so.

By my reckoning, big companies are wasting between 20% and 40% of their marketing budgets.

This is a terrible return on investment anyhow you look at it. And it’s for this reason that when I produce a marketing audit report I couch it in the language of accountants because they’re the ones approving budgets.

By looking at the debits and credits, it’s very easy to see if a campaign has delivered what it promised. In the absence of these types of checks and balances, we can expect wastage to continue unchallenged.

This is a situation that shouldn’t be allowed to continue. The country is in a precarious position in which resources are going to become more scarce. Marketing campaigns should therefore steer away from ‘big idea’ strategies to practical, implementable action plans.

Boards of directors, business leaders and those holding the purse strings are demanding far greater accountability on the business benefits of campaigns. Gone are the days that CEOs and CFOs just closed their eyes and prayed when they listened to requests for increased marketing budgets. Not only can the impact be measured, but it must be measured. Market research tools allow executives to make the right decisions that help grow the business and gain some benefit from every rand spent.