Asking for funds for training

Asking for funds for training

How should marketers ask their bosses, or the finance department, to loosen the purse strings and pay up for professional development?

Allocating time and money for training helps marketers understand – and keep up to speed – with the latest marketing techniques, technologies and trends. It can provide insights into your customers, your competitors, and your own organisation, and help you build and manage successful marketing strategies. However, when resources are at a premium, extracting the funds to pay for training is not always easy. Here are five ways marketers can seek to show the value of the investment.

1. Make it part of an ongoing conversation

Training costs money, and those providing the cash need to trust that the money will be well spent. Start by underlining that marketing is a vital driver of growth, and deliver a clear vision of how the training can lead to increased productivity and sales. When a company implicitly believes in the value of marketing, convincing management to spend on training will be easier. Don’t wait until you need the money to start the conversation, bring it up as part of an ongoing dialogue and then be clear about why it is needed now.

2. Speak the language of finance

Just as marketers understand how financial outlay can lead to increases in reach, engagement and market share, finance people know how pruning costs can improve the balance sheet. This is to both sides’ credit. What finance dislikes most, however, is waste. Providing projections of how spending on training will lead to future sales will provide leverage here. Learning to speak the language of finance isn’t about speaking with the enemy, it’s a skill that marketers will do well to practice.

3. Provide solutions, not problems

If there is unlikely to be any new money on the table for training, or if resources are limited, work out if you can make savings elsewhere to offset the cost. Show that you understand the commitment your organisation is making by working out how the marketing department is contributing to that cost. The bottom line here is to provide solutions rather than additional problems.

4. Provide options

It’s vital that you cost everything carefully before asking for funds, and allow those providing the money to inspect the figures and ask questions. But you should also show alternatives. Could you provide premium, standard and budget options? How many people really need to be trained? Could the new knowledge be cascaded down for the benefit of others? When you take ownership of the numbers, others don’t have to set the agenda with theirs. Providing options at different price points might get you the buy-in you need.

5. Take responsibility 

Don’t take the money and run. If the funds for training are handed over, report back on what it achieves. In the short term, this could be a ‘show and tell’ – with colleagues and other interested parties – of what you have learned from the training. In the longer term, seek to demonstrate how new skills or knowledge are being incorporated into day-to-day work and marketing strategy, and are making a difference. If it’s hard to demonstrate that the money was well spent, look at why that’s the case and explain how it can be done differently next time around. If you want a ‘next time around’, it’s your responsibility to prove the value of the investment, and that you understand the commitment your company made to it.

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