I definitely appreciate Module 4 focusing on creating and adhering to a budget. Along with business development expenses, there are several marketing expenses that need to be benchmarked, managed, and validated by business development leadership. From professional development organizations to client philanthropy initiatives, the cash and time spent without discussions of actual opportunities can create schedule and budget fatigue, without clear goals. No one wants to avoid opportunities for key visibility all together, so a budget can help make clear choices about what is worth your time as a business developer and support quick decision making.
BUDGETING FOR CONTENT MARKETING (which is not service advertising at all, but does drive sales)
Content creation is a must! It was mentioned that Peter Madrid of Madrid Media is a well-known industry resource for content generation and media relations in Arizona. One way content can be generated is by publishing your personal descriptions of events you attend, coupled with educated opinions on the topic, speakers, and quality to your social media accounts. A budget that includes the sponsorship and attendance of BD roles for networking events, also benefits from the organic content created at that event that can be leveraged across your social media channels. As a thought leader, your content is respected and appreciated, usually sparks discussion and consideration, and as we know regularly spurs direct contact. That’s just one of many indirect but proven benefits of networking.
Tammy Carr, principal at Mortenson Construction, delivered great points on how to validate the anticipatory budget for the year while not frightening anyone into thinking you are for sure going to spend all of that money. There should be candid conversations that anticipate the actual budget impact each event has, from time commitments to associated sponsorships to travel for each individual included. If the participation as offered doesn’t make sense for your goals, short or long term, you are not obligated to overextend yourself. Saying no, as well as thinking through the impact of every resource allocation you commit to as a contractor will make a big difference in your bottom line, and actually strengthen your brand perception in money management and strategy over time.
BUDGET POLITICS – CAMPAIGNS & MORE
One of the mic drop questions, should we support foundations? Dean Howard, principal at Howard Partners, said that folks in our industry were starting to see that something might be “going on”, with regard to a possible conflict of interest related to the support of school district foundations. What is the potential conflict? Providing support in a financial capacity to a client’s non-profit network, in which the non-profit directly impacts the client financially in return, is seen by some as a conflict of interest. Also, providing funds to supercharge the political campaigns of board candidates or city officials can provide a louder and more aggressive platform for certain individuals to take the lead, and in return cause those political candidates to position contractors who supported the campaign to receive invitations to bid on the projects that were funded by the election. To curb this type of influential behavior taking the focus away from stakeholders’ best interest, legislation has evolved over time in Arizona to create and actually dictate the public sector procurement process. What you can and can’t do (which affects your budget) should be included as must-know knowledge for all new and experienced business development roles. ARS titles 15, 34, & 41 govern APDM processes, and how we can legally pursue public sector projects delivered with alternative project delivery methods. Since this language is now in our legal system, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Everyone engaging in business development activities should be aware of what’s going on with procurement legislation in regards to contracting, now and in the near future.
I also appreciate the discussion covering the basic principle of removing the risk from the client at all costs. With a lack of authoritative entities in Arizona (thanks Sue for pointing that out!) even owner’s reps are lacking a state checks and balance system in best practices of budget creation and adherence for public entities. That being said, they are open to “selling” districts on an array of services and solutions that may not be the best use of public funds, or aren’t proven solutions impacting education. Since budget planning can begin there, the negligence can have a domino effect. You being educated as a business developer on your budget internally and the dollars you spend on marketing and business development in each sector, as well as the political intricacies of spending the money you’re given is arguably some of your most important skills in today’s climate.