The relationship between schools’ marketing and finance functions is a vital one. Despite an outdated view that marketing wants to spend money while finance wants to save it, the teams share a common goal – to improve revenue.
School marketing teams work to ensure that their enrolment pipeline remains buoyant and can set themselves apart from the competition by promoting the benefits, success etc of the school, while finance teams are responsible for managing the school’s budget, cash flow and spending. Marketing needs enough money to support its strategy; finance needs to understand the marketing plan and have confidence about a solid return on investment to allocate the funds the marketing team requires.
Strong collaboration and alignment between a school’s marketing and finance teams allows them to work cooperatively to achieve better results. Here are some ideas to foster a productive and harmonious relationship between your school’s marketing and finance functions.
Actively encourage cross-function collaboration
School leaders should play a proactive and visible role in supporting marketing and finance teams to connect and explore how they can work together to achieve the school’s goals. Some practical ways to do this might be:
- Scheduled bi-monthly or quarterly meetings where each team provides an update on the previous period and runs through what’s planned for the next period.
- Regular lunch and learn sessions where each team can share its expertise. For example, the marketing team might show finance how they decide to spend their social media budget, while finance may share the reporting and analytics they use to determine budgets or project cash flow.
Foster an environment where marketing is considered an investment
Marketers are constantly asked to do more with less. And when budgets are under pressure, marketing activities are often among the first expenses to be cut. While there may be times when finance is unable to give marketing the funds, they had planned to allocate to them, it’s essential that marketing is viewed across the school leadership team as an investment rather than an expense. To earn this respect, the marketing team should be able to demonstrate the success of past campaigns – for example, showing that a recent student acquisition campaign delivered five new enrolments.
Have the teams work together on projects
Today’s marketers have a variety of ways to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, with online tools and reporting offering better visibility of marketing performance than ever before. Ask your marketing and finance teams to come together and critically assess and test creative concepts for a planned campaign using the analytics available to them. Perhaps finance might even create a tiered structure where more funding is allocated to the campaign if it hits agreed benchmarks.
Make key performance indicators and metrics transparent
Regular meetings are an opportunity for the functions to share results and assess the effectiveness of past initiatives. From a marketing perspective, this might include exploring metrics like cost per click, number of enquiries received, and the number of enquiries converted to enrolments. Finance might share tuition arrears, the percentage of school families with confirmed payment plans, and forecasted cash flow.
Neither marketing nor finance will get the results the school wants if they operate in silos. An environment where there’s open communication and genuine collaboration will ensure the teams understand each other, respect each other’s contribution toward the school’s objectives, and can work together to achieve better results.
PCSchool from Nelnet International helps schools embed a best practice approach to financial management. Our platform provides advanced real-time reporting and analytics that allow finance teams to work more effectively with all areas of the school.
Nelnet International’s purpose is to build strong relationships that drive shared success. We’re proud to partner with organisations like Cole School Experts to add even more value to the schools we work with.