Three Tips for Getting Through Budget Season

Making your marketing budget a universal tool for your organization

Hi everyone – it’s Chris Archunde from Raving, and today I’m talking about my three tips for getting through budget season. When we as marketers have a strong understanding of how our budget impacts other departments, what we really have is a universal tool for the entire organization. Once you master your budget process, I guarantee that planning for the next 24 months will be so much easier.

Tip #1: Prepare for Next Year’s Budget Season, today!

What does that mean? Typically, during budget season, you’re under the gun to turn in your numbers. You are part of a whole process where you’re with other departments and you must report to other high-level executives. Your numbers need to waterfall into the entire organization’s numbers, and that isn’t easy if you haven’t had your eye on the budget or your various classifications of line items throughout the year.

My advice is really to pay special attention to your line items, our classifications and how your numbers crossover or impact the other operational departments. As an example, do you know where your free play falls? Does that fall under your budget as an expenditure and roll up to the operational slot floor as a revenue generator? That same question would go for your player development hotel bill. That’s technically Marketing’s expenditure, but it is actually rolling up into the hotel or the resort side’s revenue number. Essentially, they’re counting on my department’s number to hit their number, whether we’ve communicated about it or not.

This example makes it sound a lot simpler than it is, but I would start with setting a meeting for your financial group, your controller, whoever it is that you work with in accounting, and yourself just to ask those questions. If you spend money on it or if it’s part of your budget as an expense, does it impact a department or project somewhere else in the company? Start there first. That’s the toughest one because your coworkers and your other departments must come up with revenue numbers as well. If your expenses fall under their revenue, ensure you’re both on the same page. It’s going to be a lot easier for both of you.

Tip #2: Anticipate and Plan for Recurring Monthly Costs

There can be visible or invisible costs showing up each month as agency retainers, performance agreements or other products or services that are used so support our player reward programs. You may not have been the person to go out and seal that deal, but the expense is definitely going to hit your budget even when the breadcrumbs lead back to other operational departments like Finance, IT and Administration.

When you have a better grasp on these expenses, and you’re able to track and reconcile them leading up to budget season, this process won’t be as frenzied and will allow everyone a little more breathing room. This is a great opportunity to talk to other divisions and really find out how your process may impact other operations and vice versa.

Tip #3: Plan, Prepare and Practice

You would do this if you were redesigning your slot floor. You would do this if you were going to remodel your house. You would have a plan and you might have two, three, or four different scenarios. So, apply that to your projects at work. Do your best to prepare for changes whether that’s working with more or less resources than the current year. How can you be sure how next year’s budget going to look? It’s possible that you may receive more resources, but it is also possible that you may receive less. Do the work ahead of time and know what line items absolutely cannot be cut, and which ones can!

What needs to remain intact for the next year to keep progressing? You’ve got to be brutal and realistic. Plan ahead and identify areas that could be modified, because you won’t be able to go in every year and ask for more money. If you are asking for more money, make sure it’s going to make a measurable difference in your operation, whether in the form of cost savings, improved efficiencies, or increased revenue. Know why you are spending the money and know why you’re allocating resources to your line items (because you’ll probably be asked about it). Being able to demonstrate this is extremely helpful for executives in making their big budget decisions – including giving you more money!

Be Part of the Solution

It’s hard to plan in a vacuum. If we have a full grasp of our budget and we have a strong understanding of how our budget impacts other departments, as I noted above, we will have a universal tool to support the entire organization. We become a resource. We’re part of the solution. We become the “go-to” when we know our budget inside and out, folks will come to us and ask us, “Where do you see this in quarter 1, 2, 3, or four?” Do the legwork. Go out to your peers and go out to your counterparts and ask them questions. Make budget season a collaborative effort. I assure you; you’ll feel so much more confident going into the next budget season and guarantee you’ll be more than prepared 24 months from now with the simple steps listed above.

Need an outside resource to streamline your marketing department budget? Ask us about our one-on-one mentoring or department-wide training that will set up a structure for years to come. Contact Kristine Woods at for more information on these hands-on programs.