You need funds. Your program just blew through its budget. You’re out of money but that last mile is where the big payoff finally comes in. What do you do?
You have two choices: abandon the program or seek additional funds. Either way you will have some explaining to do.
How to Prepare
Running out of money and having to ask for more is uncomfortable and can even be embarrassing. It means admitting that something went wrong, wasn’t taken into account, or didn’t go as planned.
The sooner you get over these emotional responses, the faster you can take action. You’ll need a solid strategy for asking for, and getting, more money.
Follow these steps to build your case:
Step 1: Introspection
Take a good look at your program assumptions. Go back to the beginning and revisit how you built your initial budget.
Answer these questions in detail:
- Why are you near the end of a program and just now noticing that money is tight or gone?
- Did you miss a key component?
- Was the data you based your initial budget on incorrect?
- Did new data surface that influenced spending?
- Did you underestimate the cost?
- Can you identify areas of overspending?
- Was there a situation beyond your control that escalated your cost?
- Are there funds in the overall marketing budget that you are willing to reallocate to see this through?
Step 2: Itemization
Use the information gathered in Step 1 to assess and itemize the overages. Make a spreadsheet. For each item, list the following:
- Budget amount
- Actual amount
- Description of the item
- Explanation of overage
Determining this information takes time and effort, but it will be worth it to uncover the true financial picture and provide insight. For example, you may find that activities or purchases were charged to the program that should not have been and can be backed out. Or, you might find that you were overcharged for an item.
You’ll also identify areas where expense control and management need to be tightened up and communicated.
Don’t just take the numbers at face value. Dig in. This exercise will make you a better planner the next time around.
Step 3: Estimation
Now that you have assessed the current financial situation, estimate the funds needed to finish. This is the time to be brutally honest, to use realistic numbers, and to check and recheck your math.
You’ll only get one shot at asking for more money. Get that spreadsheet out again and open a new tab. Plug in remaining items and their costs. List the rationale for why you need this.
Step 4: Preparation
You’ve done your homework. You have the data. Put it together in a brief for the executive or committee you are presenting to.
- Write an executive summary that is no longer than a page and a half. The more concise the better.
- Prepare a presentation with only the data that informs management’s decision.
- Do not put all your background info and spreadsheets in the presentation, however, have it ready to discuss should they ask.
- Prepare two options for moving forward.
- Include the pros and cons of each option.
- Be willing to negotiate on various items.
- Practice, practice, practice. Ask your team, your friends, your family . . . ask someone to listen to your pitch. The feedback will help you frame and refine your message.
I recommend many sources for validating your assumptions in Why Marketers Fail at Internal Communications and What to do about it.
Step 5. Ask the People That Can Make the Decision
You’ll need to get on the calendar as soon as possible. Schedule a meeting with the person or committee you need to approve your funds.
- Have copies of the presentation and supporting information for each attendee.
- Be very specific and ask explicitly for funding.
- Make eye contact.
- Own and admit mistakes.
- Be honest.
- Don’t get defensive.
- Don’t dwell on failure, quickly move to discussing corrections and action plans.
- Be prepared to answer questions.
- Leave the meeting with an answer or timeframe for an answer.
- Thank them for their time.
Remember These Keys
You’ve most likely figured out by now that I believe preparation and communication are key. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be when you ask for more funds. The better you communicate the situation and the need, the more likely you will get what you ask for.